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That’s what you’ll say when you hear about the amazing variety of welding jobs that are out there and how much they pay.
You like the idea of working outdoors? Traveling? Getting new skills and moving up in the world?
The same is true if you want an indoors-only job close to home. Or if you like sales or teaching or science or even research. Or if you want to start your own company.
The starting pay for most welding jobs is pretty basic, especially right out of high school. But, with more experience, the potential to earn two or three times that amount is definitely there.
And making $100,000 or more isn’t out of the question. But only if you are the best of the best—the Tom Brady or Derek Jeter of welding—and you are willing to work in some far-off spots.
hy is welding such a wide-open gig? It really comes down to this— you see and touch every day: the car you drive, the bridge you drive over, and the school or mall you drive to.
Welding’s also part of making airplanes, ships and all kinds of manufactured products, from lawn mowers to earthmoving equipment.
And then there’s energy. Welding, for instance, plays a huge role in building and maintaining offshore oil rigs. The same goes for pipelines, powerplants and even those big wind turbines.
Just ask Scott Shriver. Shriver’s the chief fabricator for research and development at Hendrick Motorsports, the team behind NASCAR superstars like Jeff Gordan, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson.
“I got started in welding growing up on a farm,” says Shriver. He helped his dad weld farm equipment “to keep things going.” Then, after Shriver took some welding classes in high school, his instructor said he was great at it and should think about welding as a career.
“I was into racing motorcycles,” Shriver says. “One day a friend of mine says he wants to race sprint cars—dirttrack- style cars. I helped him build his first car from the chassis up.” From there, Shriver welded his way to the top of the racing business in just a few years.
Hendrick Motorsports, where Shriver works, does things old-school but with the latest technology. The company builds its cars from the ground up, and Shriver’s involved in how the cars are put together. Especially the welds, which are key.
“I personally get a feelng of satisfaction from doing something that not very many people can do,” says Art Cady. He’s been welding probably longer than you’ve been alive, and he’s seen the world while doing it
. He’s in Chile now and loving it.
What’s Cady worked on? He’s got a long list. “,” he says with a laugh.
No doubt, Cady has charted his own course in life as a welder. So has Derek Arnold, an artist near Baltimore who uses his welding skills to turn old construction equipment (road-paving machines, stuff like that) into huge sculptures that look and move like dinosaurs. He has also put together a car he says looks like a cross between “The Flintstones” and “Mad Max.”
To help pay the bills, Arnold also does awesome specialty welding, making cool-looking metal fences, railings and furniture. (Curious? Take a look at his page at www.ghostmine.com).
here are even jobs for welders who like to dive. . “Commercial divers have to find it, clear it, inspect it and repair it or build it new”—all in diving gear, says Garber. A lot of that involves welding. It’s challenging work, for sure.
OK, by now you know there is a wide range of jobs out there for welders. Everything from building dinosaur sculptures to building nuclear powerplants.
Starting just out of high school with only basic welding skills, you are looking at $10, $12 or $14 an hour. Underwater welding also pays well, but it depends on where you’re working. Garber, from the Commercial Diving Academy, says commercial divers doing “inland” work on bridges and powerplants mostly make $40,000 to $50,000 a year, but some make $60,000 or even $70,000 if they get a lot of overtime.
Work “offshore” on an oil rig, though, and you probably will start out at $60,000, Garber says. After a few years, you could make $100,000 or more. “But that’s a different type of career,” he says. On an oil rig, you usually work 12 hours on, 12 hours off, every day for six weeks, then you come back to dry land for a week. It’s not for everyone.
enerally, “,” says Richard Seif. He’s the senior vice president of global marketing at Lincoln Electric, Cleveland, which makes all kinds of welding equipment and offers welding training.
If you have math and science skills, going to college to become a welding engineer just about gurantees good pay—more than $50,000 a year to start and thousands more a year after that, Seif says.