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The Most Lucrative Welding Positions

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The Most Lucrative Welding Positions

In 2017, the U.S. national average pay for a welder was approximately $18 per hour, or about $38,000 per year. While this wage is on-par with many entry-level jobs, welders of the higher skill levels earn well above the national average. By “higher skill levels,” we mean the more dangerous and difficult welding jobs. But skill level is not the only factor in payment. Geographic location, labor shortages, and travel, for example, play an important role in welders’ income. In this article, we’ll cover which welding jobs pay the best, and the reasons behind compensation.

Industrial Pipe & Pipeline Welding

Expanding U.S. infrastructure has surged demand for pipeline welders. Pipelines are used in a wide variety of industries and exist in almost every corner of America. Northern states like North Dakota, Montana and especially Alaska, for example, are experiencing a pipeline boom due to fracking and drilling. Wages in these states have double in some instances over the past few years. The average hourly pay for pipeline welders is $23 per hour, with a maximum around $50 per hour.

Pipelines are also widely used in industrial facilities ranging from manufacturing plants to nuclear power plants. To take advantage of this large employment opportunity, Industrial pipe welders need their welding certification and typically around 2 years of entry level experience.

Underwater Welding

One of the flashiest skilled welding jobs, underwater welding is extremely difficult and requires a lot of additional training, which also results in substantially higher compensation. Underwater welders must complete rigorous scuba diving training, earning a commercial scuba diving certificate, in addition to their welding training. In murky waters with limited visibility, freezing temperatures, and time limits confined by oxygen tanks, these skilled craftsmen work on pipelines, electrical units, dams, bridges, offshore oil rigs, and much more. Underwater welders often use shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) and sometimes flux-cored and friction welding.

At the highest levels in the most difficult underwater welding jobs like saturation diving, pay can be upwards of $100,000 per year. The average hourly wage for underwater welders is around $26.32. Earning your welding certification is the first step to becoming an underwater welder, followed by a commercial diving license and further specialty training. But mastering this difficult craft is well worth it.


Certified Welding Inspectors (CWI) would argue they have the best jobs in the welding field. CWIs work on contracts, traveling all across the country inspecting industrial and commercial welding operations. They can work for both the government and private companies, which means wages can vary. Almost any welder can become a CWI in time. Experience is all that is really required to become a CWI, but employment often depends on references, knowledge and education.

Many of these welding positions take years of experience to achieve but are certainly something entry-level welders should aspire to. Every welder in these top-tier jobs started in entry-level positions. Everyone of them also has a deep passion for what they do. They want to be the best in their field, which is why they’ve risen to such high paying positions. The Welding program instructors at CCNN want that very same thing for you. If you’re interested in learning more about a lucrative welding career, reach out to CCNN today and see how we can help you reach your goals.