What are the Highest Paying Welding Jobs?

Hull Technician 3rd Class Jose Rodriguez welds L-brackets together aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.


Everyone knows that welders are among the highest paid tradesmen. Welders who work hard to develop their skills and knowledge of the craft are able to benefit from high demand, and the ability to bargain for better pay and access to highly sought after positions.

A welder’s pay can vary greatly depending on the state they work in, the company they work for and the skill level they possess.

When choosing which niche to fill in the welding job market it is important to understand the difference between different welding positions. Some types of welding jobs pay much more than others for good reason. Some positions will require a welder to work in harsh or unpleasant conditions.

Many places where demand for welders is high, like Alaska, are known for difficult weather and challenging conditions. Welders are also frequently asked to leave their families for long periods of time at very remote work locations.

In many cases, the jobs can come with significant hazards as well. Remote locations, dangerous environments, and jobs that require the welder to work in an enclosed area generally pay much more than other welding jobs.

Underwater welding jobs are generally the most dangerous for a variety of reasons-and offer pay that few other welding positions could compete with.

Three Best paid Welding jobs

As an occupation, welding comes with a great deal of satisfaction. But it is also a highly competitive trade which requires those considering it to weigh their options carefully.

What follows is a description of the highest paying welding jobs available. We will discuss the hazards, the benefits, and the pay ranges for each to help you make a more informed decision.

What are the Highest Paying Welding Jobs? 1

A Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant pipefitter welds piping for the Munitions Washout System.

Pipeline Welder

Oil, gas, water and other pipelines provide the lifeblood of our infrastructure. Pipe welders will always be in high demand as
long as the demand for fuel and other resources is high.

Many pipe welders work on oil rigs and refineries. These facilities comprise the majority of the oil and gas industry.

What are the Highest Paying Welding Jobs? 2

Pipe welder keeps it all together, as he welds piping for the Munitions Washout System.

Pipeline welders are also needed in the automotive industry, shipbuilding, nuclear energy, aerospace, and fabrication, not to mention the armed forces.

Often times, work areas in hard to reach locations. In addition to learning how to lay down high-quality welds, welders working on industrial pipes must master the application of their craft while working in difficult positions.

The national average Pipe Welders salary range from $33k – $38k/yr according to salaryexpert.com. On payscale.com your Market Worth would be 51k/yr and on glassdoor.com it’s $44,635/yr.

Underwater Welder

What are the Highest Paying Welding Jobs? 3

JINHAE, Republic of Korea (March 15, 2016) U.S. Navy Builder 2nd Class Jesus Saucedo Gomez (right) with Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2, performs an underwater fillet weld.

Easily one of the most dangerous activity a welder can do, underwater welding is also among the most secure and highest paying job out there.
Underwater welding comes with special compensation for the added hazards that come with working underwater.

In addition to the obvious dangers, these tradesmen also have to cope with barometric pressure. Despite all this, many underwater welders enjoy the challenge and travel, as well as the surreal working conditions.

Underwater welding comes in two forms, wet welding, and dry welding. Wet welding is done while the welder is submerged, either partially or completely. Specially designed welding rods are used to make this possible. Dry welding or hyperbaric welding means welding in a sealed chamber that is submerged.

The hyperbaric chamber encloses the welder and the material to be welded. It is filled with helium or argon and oxygen to force the water out, allowing the welder to do his work. 

What are the Highest Paying Welding Jobs? 4

2 Diving Detachment Bravo, remove his helmet after an underwater cutting training scenario

Underwater welders are required to undergo an extensive course of training. This education includes diving proficiency, which comes with a whole range of required skills as a professional welder. Aspiring underwater welders must pass a series of stringent performance and knowledge tests to earn their underwater welder certification. Skill sets required include SCUBA diving, top side welding, and underwater welding.

The average underwater welders salary is $80k – $97k annually. However, most incomes float around $25,000$80,000. Diver welders in the top 10% make $115k while the bottom 10% pull in $30,700. And according to payscale.com its $37,453 – $108,667

Welding Technician

What are the Highest Paying Welding Jobs? 5

WARDJet Weldbot in work

Welding is a terrific skill set to have and will continue to be much-needed for many years. Welders will be needed to work in difficult to reach places, low volume fabrication, and repair.

Many functions of welders will remain too complex to automate. Machines have been built that can perform many welding tasks, but working in unpredictable environments and making difficult decisions will require a professional human welder for the foreseeable future.

In construction, a certified welding technician will regularly encounter a variety of metals and various situations which require their specialized expertise.

Contractors and employers will expect the tech to be well-versed in the latest developments and technology within the field and able to apply it.

What are the Highest Paying Welding Jobs? 6

Welders monitor an automatic welding machine used to weld seams of the Fire Water Storage Tanks at the Blue Grass pilot plant.

A welding technician typically works in construction or assembly work. He or she must make critical decisions involving the type of welding techniques, equipment, and processes to be used.

The need for certified welding technicians will continue to increase, making this career path a secure job opportunity with good pay.

Pay by Experience for a Welding Technician is on an upward trend.

An entry-level certifiedWelding Technician with less than 5 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $51 – $62(in thousands) based plus bonuses, overtime pay and tips.

Locations Where Welders are Best Compensated

As we have mentioned, above average paying welding jobs requiring extensive travel, work in remote locations, and those involving hazardous conditions almost always offer the best pay for welders.

Alaska highest paying welding jobs 
Arguably the best place to earn the most money as a welder is in the state of Alaska. There, the average pay is $43.83 an hour. Alaska has an oil and gas industry that is thriving and growing rapidly. Enormous communities surround the largest work sites where a welder could settle down for some time if he wished.

The second best location for welders who wish to obtain the highest rates of pay is the island state of Hawaii. The average hourly rate there is $39.75 per hours. The oil and gas drilling industry has an enormous presence there with a lot of underwater welding , offering great job security. What’s more, the idyllic location and terrific weather year-round make Hawaii a highly desirable location.

The Mainland United States
Finally, we have North Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Nevada- in that order. Demand for the skills of experienced welders in these states is highest without leaving the contiguous United States. Compensation rates will depend on the nature of the job and the company the welder works for.

The advantages include a lower likelihood of having to work far from one’s family and ease of access to the job. Some welders who love to live on the road travel on their own between these states and live satisfying lives.


What are the Highest Paying Welding Jobs? 7

Equipment Operator 3rd Class Thomas Dahlke, assigned to Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2, gives the OK sign before beginning a low-visibility underwater cutting evolution

Welders work is an exciting and challenging trade that requires a lot of dedication from its practitioners. The travel, unique job sites, and good pay makes it a very appealing job for those whose demeanors suit it.

If you intend to go into professional welding, keep in mind that it requires a high level of skill and personal fortitude. Successful professional welders are highly respected for their toughness, problem-solving abilities, and resolve.

Anyone hoping to make it in this trade must be ready to go above and beyond the demands of the ordinary workplace.


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