The uptick in the popularity of trade jobs can be seen in the industry at the moment, thanks to the recognition of the skills needed for vocational careers and the salaries on offer. The career of a welder is no different. They’re in high demand and can expect good pay because of the skills necessary to perform their work well. There is also a great variety of jobs available to you as a skilled welder, each requiring their own skillset and level of ability.
What Does a Welder Do?
If you think of a welder, you’re likely to conjure images of people in full-face masks wielding flaming torches pointed at a metal structure as they slowly join pieces of metal together. This actually isn’t far off from what a welder fitter might do, but the job is far more varied than that.
A welder is a tradesperson who is skilled in the practice of fusing materials together. These materials can be metal or newer more exotic materials. Some examples of materials used in welding are:
Welders require a degree of physical fitness and dexterity to perform well, but above this, they need a great level of technical knowledge and practice and a familiarity with the kinds of materials they are tasked to join.
Let’s have a look at some of the best-paid jobs in the welding industry.
If any welder would be compared to a rock star of their industry, it would be the underwater welder. Not only do you need to be a highly-skilled welder, but you also need to be a proficient and professional diver too. Diving with a few hundred amps of live direct current is no cakewalk. You’ll find underwater welders working in industries like oil and gas, military or naval forces and, of course, shipbuilding. If you plan on working for the military or navy, you will need to take the AFQT before enlisting. Your AFQT score will help determine your potential occupational fit for the military.
To break into the underwater welding industry, you’ll need to be a certified welder and an expert of your craft on land with many years of experience in a welding career. You’ll also need to complete the prerequisite SCUBA diving course and log a good many hours under the ocean’s surface before progressing on to a certification in commercial diving where you’ll finally get your chance to do some underwater welding.
From there, you’ll likely get your first job as an apprentice in the industry, also called a dive tender, where you’ll learn the industry and how to perform well. Only then will you graduate to an underwater welder.
Nuclear Industry Welders
Here we’ll find welders working in a variety of industries, usually veterans from work in other welding careers who will then become specially screened and certified to work within the realm of the nuclear industry. You’ll also likely need to pass a police and FBI clearance before you’re certified.
You’ll find three different classes of nuclear welder:
- Class 1 – These welders often work in nuclear power stations, and directly deal with maintenance and construction with nuclear reactors and their cooling systems.
- Class 2 – Less dangerous, but still directly involved in the cooling systems, class 2 welders will deal with components that aren’t radioactive.
- Class 3 – The class 3 welder works on the supporting infrastructure and might not get as much exposure to nuclear radiation.
Nuclear industry welders are screened very thoroughly before they can assume these roles, and it is considered one of the more difficult welding industries to break into, but the expected salary reflects this.
Industrial Pipeline Welders
The industrial pipeline welder is, as the name suggests, an expert at welding, joining and repairing industrial pipelines. Here you’ll get exposed to a large variety of materials and welding techniques in the pursuit of your career in all kinds of environments and conditions.
Pipelines run all over the world and this means you’ll be working in environments like:
- Icy cold Alaskan landscapes
- Humid and cold swamps
You’ll also almost always be working on a site and not in the comfort of a workshop or factory, so expect to find yourself welding in all kinds of strange positions.
Pipeline welders are usually the most well-paid of all welders in the industry, thanks to the demanding nature of the job and the incredibly high skill required.
Aerospace Industry Welders
The aerospace industry has seen an enormous boom in growth, and this means there has been a surge in the need for engineers and tradespeople responsible for building and maintaining the space-going craft. An aerospace industry welder is one of those positions that has seen a surge in demand.
These welders can be found working in both space-going craft like shuttles, rockets, and satellites as well as commercial aviation craft like airplanes and helicopters. Because of the advances in the industry, these welders can expect to be exposed to a large variety of metals and even some more exotic materials.
Aerospace industry welders will often work on the cutting-edge of the industry.
If you want to take a step back from wielding the welding machine, you might want to consider looking at what it takes to be a welding inspector. In this profession, you’ll be performing critical safety and compliance checks in welding work to ensure it is up to standard and safety protocols.
To get started as a welding inspector, you’ll want a good few years of experience (at least 5, though probably more) and a degree in engineering technology (click here to find out how you can achieve this online). You’ll be carrying a lot of responsibility as a welding inspector, so this is the career suited to those with incredible attention to detail and thoroughness in their work.
As you can see, welding is so much more than making security gates and bars or fitting metals together. It’s a very varied career with a lot of opportunity in a well-paid career. There are many industries that require skilled welders with strong growth, so if you have a high attention to detail and are physically fit and dexterous, you should consider looking for work in a reliable, varied and challenging career like welding. It might be right for you.