How Much Money Does a Welder Make Per Hour?

Key Takeaways:

  • Welders can make anywhere from $13.60 to $34 per hour, depending on factors like location, industry, skills and experience.
  • Higher paying welding industries include pipeline, underwater, aerospace and nuclear welding.
  • Getting trained, certified and building up skills and experience can increase a welder’s hourly pay significantly.
  • Location also impacts pay, with some states and cities paying welders more than others.
  • Continuously learning new skills and techniques is key for welders who want to maximize their income potential.

Got No Time? A Quick Answer for You:

The average hourly wage for welders in the U.S. is around $18-25 per hour. However, pay can range from $13 to $34+ per hour depending on factors like industry, location, certifications and experience level. Welders in higher paying industries like pipeline, underwater and aerospace welding can earn $30-50 per hour with extensive experience. But in general, the more training, skills and certifications a welder gains, the higher their earning potential will be over time.

How Much Money Does a Welder Make Per Hour?

If you’re considering a career as a welder, one of the first questions you probably have is “how much money does a welder make per hour?” It’s a great question, because income potential is an important factor for anyone searching for a new career path.

The answer, unfortunately, is not a simple one. There are many variables that affect how much welders can earn per hour. Industry, location, experience level, training, and certifications all play a role in determining a welder’s hourly wage.

To give you the most accurate picture, we’ll break down the major factors that influence welder pay per hour in this comprehensive guide.

The National Average Hourly Wage for Welders

Let’s start by looking at the big picture.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national average hourly wage for welders is $19.84 as of 2021. The average annual salary for welders is around $41,350 per year.

Keep in mind this is just a broad average for welders across the country and across industries. Actual income can vary significantly based on the other factors we’ll cover next.

Pay Range for Welders Per Hour

While $20/hour is the average, welders can make anywhere from $13 to $35 per hour or more depending on their skills, experience and industry.

Here is the typical range you can expect:

  • Entry level welder: $13 – $15 per hour
  • Intermediate welder: $15 – $22 per hour
  • Experienced welder: $22 – $35+ per hour

As you can see, there’s quite a wide pay range in this field. Welders just starting out will fall on the lower end, while veterans with decades of experience and specialized skills can command wages of $35/hour or more.

Let’s look closer at what impacts a welder’s pay within this range.

Key Factors That Affect How Much Welders Make Per Hour

There are several key factors that impact how much an individual welder makes per hour:

1. Industry

The industry a welder works in has a major impact on income. Some industries naturally pay welders more than others based on the working conditions and skills required.

Higher paying industries for welders include:

  • Pipeline welding
  • Underwater welding
  • Aerospace/aviation manufacturing
  • Oil & gas and energy sectors
  • Nuclear and military welding

These specialized fields pay the best, with hourly wages commonly exceeding $25-35/hour for experienced welders.

However, the highest paying welding jobs also come with the most hazardous working conditions and require extensive training. Underwater welders, for example, can make over $100,000 annually but the job comes with high risks.

Meanwhile, welders in more common industries like construction and manufacturing are more likely to make $15-25 per hour on average.

2. Location

Your geographic location also impacts your income as a welder. Certain states and cities pay welders higher wages based on local economic factors:

  • Alaska: $28.07/hr avg
  • Illinois: $23.94/hr avg
  • Washington: $23.90/hr avg
  • New York: $23.68/hr avg
  • Hawaii: $22.78/hr avg

Meanwhile, welders in lower-cost rural areas typically earn less:

  • Arkansas: $17.03/hr avg
  • Alabama: $18.01/hr avg
  • Idaho: $18.86/hr avg

If you’re willing to relocate, moving to states or cities with high demand and higher wages can boost your earning potential.

3. Experience Level

Your welding experience also directly impacts pay. Entry-level welders fresh out of welding school often start at $15/hour or less.

But with 5-10 years experience under your belt, you can expect your hourly pay to increase significantly. Welders with decades of specialized expertise can eventually command $30-50+ per hour.

Putting in the time to hone your skills pays off with higher wages down the road. Gaining exposure to complex welding projects also allows you to increase rates.

4. Training and Certifications

The more training and certifications you obtain as a welder, the more valuable your skills become. Certain industries require certification to work on critical projects. For example, aerospace welders often need AWS D17.1 certs to weld on aircraft and rockets.

Some additional trainings that can boost income potential include:

  • Certified Welding Inspector (CWI)
  • Certified Robotic Arc Welding
  • Certified Welding Educator
  • Certified Welding Engineer

The right combination of certs can allow experienced welders to command over $50 per hour in specialized fields. Proving your expertise pays off!

How Much Do Welders Make in Different Industries?

To give you a better idea of income potential, here is a breakdown of hourly wages for welders in some top industries:

Pipeline Welding

  • Average Hourly Pay: $34/hour
  • Annual Salary Range: $36,000 – $106,348

Pipeline welders construct and maintain gas and oil pipelines. It’s complex, critical work that takes place outdoors in all weather. The nature of the job means pipeline welders earn some of the highest wages in the trade and routinely make 6 figures annually.

Underwater Welding

  • Average Hourly Pay: $25-30/hour
  • Annual Salary Range: $54,7000 – $300,000

Underwater welders rely on diving skills and specialized training to weld pipes and structures below water. It’s a rare, dangerous job but brings hazard pay of $25-30/hour and potential 7 figure salaries.

Aerospace Manufacturing

  • Average Hourly Pay: $25-35/hour
  • Annual Salary Range: $50,000 – $75,000

Welders constructing aircraft, rockets, satellites and other aerospace equipment earn excellent wages, especially with AWS certification. The work is intricate but pays off for skilled welders.

Construction Welding

  • Average Hourly Pay: $17-25/hour
  • Annual Salary: $35,000 – $55,000

Welders in building construction see a wide range but often average around $20/hour. Pay rises with experience and supervisory roles. Ability to weld outdoors in all weather is a plus.

Manufacturing Welding

  • Average Hourly Pay: $15-22/hour
  • Annual Salary: $30,000 – $45,000

Factory welding of parts and products tends to be the most common, and lower paying welding work. However it offers stable hours and income for welders as they gain experience. Pay rises over time.

As you can see, specialized sectors like pipelines offer the highest potential wages, while more general manufacturing welding brings lower hourly pay on average.

How Can Welders Increase Their Hourly Income?

For welders who want to maximize their earning potential, here are some top tips:

  • Get certified – Earning AWS, ASME or other certifications shows your skillset and allows you to charge higher rates.
  • Gain specialized skills – Learn high-demand skills like TIG welding, robotic welding, rig welding or coding/programming.
  • Work overtime – Volunteer for extra shifts and overtime to significantly increase overall pay.
  • Relocate – Moving to regions with more welding jobs and higher wages can give your income a boost.
  • Change industries – Transition into a sector like oil & gas or aerospace to increase pay.
  • Become a supervisor or inspector – Move into leadership roles with project management duties for higher salaries.
  • Continue learning – Take advanced classes and don’t stop adding new skills to stay in-demand.

With the right combination of training, expertise and job moves, an ambitious welder can steadily increase their hourly income over the course of a career.

Pro Tips for Advancing Your Welding Career:

  • Choose specialty certifications that set you apart, like CWI inspector credentials.
  • Consider relocating to thriving welding hubs like Texas, Colorado, or the Midwest.
  • Attend conventions and events to network and land higher-tier welding jobs.
  • Join AWS or WTIA to access continuing education and career advancement resources.
  • Invest in quality gear like an auto-darkening helmet to work efficiently.
  • Pursue in-demand skills like pipefitting, rig welding and coding to open up opportunities.

Conclusion: Experience Pays for Welders Who Perfect Their Craft

While entry-level welders can expect to start at around $15/hour, experienced veterans can eventually earn $35/hour or more in high-demand industries.

Location, training, certification, specialty skills, and industry sector all impact a welder’s income. But the very top factor is hands-on experience. Welders who continually expand their expertise and strive for excellence can steadily increase their wages over time.

There’s excellent income potential in welding for those who are willing to put in the work honing their abilities. But you have to be strategic and make smart career moves if you want to maximize your hourly pay over the long run.

With passion for the trade and some business savvy, you can steadily build up your expertise – and earning power. If you stay motivated and constantly improve as a welder, you can eventually join the ranks of the profession’s top earners.

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