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SALARY INFORMATION



Profiled Company:

MCD Plastics and Manufacturing
Piqua, OH

MCD Plastics & Manufacturing specializes in machining plastic parts.

Website:  http://mcdplastics.com
Profiled Company:

Miller Electric Manufacturing Company
Appleton, WI

Miller Electric Mfg. Co., with headquarters in Appleton, Wisconsin, manufactures arc welding and cutting equipment designed for manufacturing, fabrication, construction, aviation, motorsports, education, agriculture and marine applications.

Website:  www.millerwelds.com
Profiled Company:

American Welding Society
Doral, FL

From factory floor to high-rise construction, from military weaponry to home products, AWS continues to lead the way in supporting welding education and technology development to ensure a strong, competitive and exciting way of life for all Americans.

Website:  www.aws.org
Profiled Company:

Caterpillar
Peoria, IL

Since its inception over 80 years ago, Caterpillar has grown to be the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, and industrial gas turbines. In partnership with our worldwide dealer network, we drive positive and sustainable change on every continent. We are proud to be a leader in building the world's infrastructure, and in enabling progress for millions of people around the globe.

Website:  www.cat.com


“No way!” 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? There’s a welding job for you.

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.

Why is welding such a wide-open gig? It really comes down to this—welding is part of just about everything 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.

There are real out-there jobs, too— the kind of jobs you may never think have a welding angle. 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. “Coal-fired power boilers, nuclear powerplants, a nuclear-waste treatment plant, computer-chip manufacturing plants, liquefied natural-gas plants, refineries, pipelines, gold and copper mines, the cooling system for a Cray supercomputer, office buildings, hospitals…I think that about covers it,” 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).

There are even jobs for welders who like to dive. Welding underwater is part of what a commercial diver does, says Allen Garber, who is the chief administrative officer at the Commercial Diving Academy in Jacksonville, Florida. “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.

To put it bluntly, though, a big part of the job satisfaction is making money and a good living. So what does welding pay? It depends on the kind of welding you do, where you do it, how long you’ve been doing it and how good you are at it.


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.

Generally, “the more types of welding you master the more you can earn,” 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.

So where can welding take you in life? It’s really up to you.
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