Have you ever been curious about how much money a pipe welder makes on average each year? Well, you’re in luck! You are not alone–many people are researching this intriguing career field and wondering what kind of wage they could make.
In this blog post, we will look at answering that question. You will discover how much pipe welders make, what kinds of pipe welder jobs exist, and what to do in order to get into this type of welding career.
If you’re looking for high-paying welding careers, pipe welding may be the perfect choice for you. Keep reading to find out more!
What is Pipe Welding?
Before we look at the average salary of pipe welders, let’s look at what the career actually is.
Pipe welders can be known by many names. Some include steamfitters or pipefitters. They can even be known simply as “fitters.”
As a part of their job, they are expected to assemble, install, and maintain piping systems and the fixtures attached to those systems. They are also responsible for repairing any damages.
To join together pieces of pipe, welders can use various processes. These include but may not be limited to:
- Oxy-fuel welding (or gas welding)
- Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW)
- Tungsten inert gas welding (TIG)
- Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW)
- Gas metal arc welding (GMAW)
- Submerged arc welding
What Industries Need Pipe Welders?
A few of the industries that need pipe welders include the following:
- Construction industry
- Infrastructure for gas and water providers
- Pipelines to transport natural resources (oil and natural gas) to oil refineries and mineral processing plants
- Chemical processing plants
- Maintaining and repairing marine structures
- and more!
As you can see, there are many industries within the field of pipe welding, so it’s easy to diversify and find the right fit for you.
Average Pipe Welder Salary
There are different kinds of pipe welders, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), pipe welders in the United States makes $22.60 per hour. When you do the math, that comes out to an average annual salary of $47,010 (or one source says between $30,000 and $60,000).
Of course, this means that welders who are brand new to the field will likely make a wage at the lower end of the spectrum, while welders with more experience and more risk in their jobs can earn much higher salaries.
Pipe Welding Job Prospects
Now that you know how much welder’s salaries are on average, you may be curious about more details about the job. For example, you might want to know more about the prospects and potential of pipe welding long-term.
To answer that question, there are both pros and cons in regards to this occupation. Let’s look at one of each:
PRO: You Don’t Need Extensive Education
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on college to become a pipe welder. In fact, most welders only need a high school diploma or equivalent, followed by on-the-job training. Welders with little experience can find entry-level positions, and many pipe welders start their careers as welders, brazers, cutters, or solders.
If welders choose to get more specific training and earn welding certificates, they are welcome to do so. There are technical education courses available at some high schools, at vocational-technical institutions, and some community colleges. Or, you can even find private schools for welders or in welding schools in various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces!
It’s a great position to begin without a lot of up-front cost or debt.
CON: It’s Growth Projection is Slower than Average Jobs
Unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that they predict the employment of welders will grow by only about 2% from 2021 to 2031, which is slower than average when compared to the 5% expected growth of all other occupations. However, the good news is that it is still growing, as opposed to shrinking, and as people retire from pipe welding, new people are needed in each skill level to replenish the workforce.
So, even though pipe welding is growing at a slower-than-average pace, it is still a growing field that is in high demand.
The Highest-Paying Welding Jobs
Pipe welders in general can make a comfortable wage, but there are a few welding positions that can reach into the six figures. So if you want to be among the top earners, let’s take a look at a few of the welding jobs that pipe welders can do that pay relatively high salaries:
1. Rig Welders
Rig welders are pipe welders who work on oil rigs. They typically weld pipes on rigs in oil fields or on rigs that are offshore.
These welders often work long hours, including nights and weekends. They require a lot of education and experience, too. Because of this, they are often paid an higher hourly rate rather than a salary.
A rig welder can make over $50,000 but as much as about $200,000, depending on their location and work difficulty, which is significantly higher than the average pipe welder salary. For example, a rig welder in the North Dakota oil field makes over $76,000 annually on average.
2. Industrial Pipeline Welders
Pipeline welders work on pipelines that carry resources such as natural gas and oil. Like rig welders, they are paid an hourly rate rather than a salary, and they also tend to work long hours and travel from location to location, so the pay is relatively high.
Not to mention, a leak in the pipeline can have catastrophic consequences. This makes it incredibly important for pipeline welders to be good at what they do.
The average salary for pipeline welders in the United States is around $50,000 per year. However, some of the highest-paid pipeline welders make over $100,000 annually. For example, pipeline welders in Alaska earn an average salary of around $75,000 per year or even much higher.
3. Underwater Welders
Underwater welders are pipe welders who weld underwater. They work on bridges, pipelines, boats, and other structures that are submerged in water.
Underwater welders often work long hours in difficult and dangerous conditions. It is definitely a high-risk job, but also contains a bit of adventure if you like the thrill of diving. They also require a lot of education and experience, which is why this job is one of the highest-paid welding careers.
The average salary for an underwater welder is about $54,000 per year, or up to $80,000. But some of the highest-paid welders with the most experience can make up to $147,000 annually.
You can find out more about what it takes to be an underwater welder by watching interviews like this one on the internet.
4. Certified Welding Inspectors
Next, one of the top earners in the pipe welding industry is the certified welding inspector (or CWI).
A certified welding inspector is someone who inspects welds to ensure they meet quality standards. People in this career typically have a lot of experience and education in welding and pipefitting, which gives them the opportunity to make more of an annual income than the average pipe welder.
The average salary for certified welding inspectors is around $73,000 annually. However, some of the highest-paid welding inspectors could make over $100,000 per year.
5. Welding Engineer
Lastly, a highly-skilled and highly-paid pipe welding career is the welding engineer.
Welding engineers are responsible for designing, testing, and overseeing the manufacturing of welded products. They work hard and have a lot of things to oversee in their job. This is also one of the welding careers that are in the most demand.
They typically have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, as well as a certification from the American Welding Society (AWS). And to be among the highest paid, several years of welding experience helps too.
The average salary for a welding engineer is around $55,000 per year. However, welding engineers can make even up to $120,000 annually with the proper experience and education, which is pretty impressive!
Now You Know All About How Much Pipe Welders Make
So there you have it–the average wage produced by pipe welders each year!
Overall, pipe welders can make a good annual wage, with some welders making over $100,000 per year. That can make for a comfortable living!
The type of pipe welding you do, as well as your experience and education, will largely determine your salary, but that is to be expected in any career.
If you’re interested in pipe welding, be sure to research the different types of pipe welding and what each entails. That way, you can make the best decision for your career. Happy hunting!
What did you find most surprising or interesting about pipe welding careers? Let us know in the comments below!