What is a Welder?

Welder working

Welders are tradespeople who play an important role in the construction of infrastructure and the manufacture of many products. [1] It can be fulfilling, hands-on work for those with the right skills. Learn more about how to become a welder.

What Does a Welder Do?

Welders use over 100 different techniques to fuse metals and other types of materials together. [2] They work in a diverse range of fields, constructing everything from ships to spacecrafts to computers. In fact, welding is essential to the manufacturing of more than 50 percent of U.S. products. [3] Learn more about what a welder does.

Career Overview

Several industries rely on the strong metal joints that welders make for new construction, maintenance, and repair. This is one reason the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cites for faster than average job growth for some of the occupations that employ welding.The BLS predicts jobs for welders will increase at a rate of 6 percent through 2026, which is about as fast as the average for all professions in the U.S. [4] Ironworkers, who weld the structural and reinforcing iron and steel that supports buildings, bridges, and roads, will see 13 percent job growth. [5] Pipefitters install and maintain the pipes that transport gases, chemicals, and acids. Jobs for these tradespeople are predicted to be added at a rate of 16 percent. [6]

Job Growth Factors

  • Manufacturing demand due to the versatility and importance of welding to numerous processes
  • Aging infrastructure in need of repair [7]
  • New construction of power generation facilities [8]
  • Replacing retiring workers [9]

To learn more, read the blog post in which we discuss the welding job outlook in the United States.

Top Employers

  • Welders: Manufacturing [10]
  • Pipefitters: Plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors [11]
  • Ironworkers: Foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors [12]

Job opportunities tend to be better for welders who are proficient in the latest technologies. [13] Employment of welders can also vary by state. Midwest Technical Institute has campuses offering welding training in three Illinois cities: Springfield, East Peoria, and Moline. Illinois employed 13,080 welders in 2016. [14] MTI also offers a welding program in Springfield, Missouri, a state that employed 8,120 welders that year. [15]


Earnings for welders are influenced by multiple factors, including credentials like certification, work experience, location, and industry. Certification in specific welding processes, such as gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), and additional education can lead to higher paying positions. [16] The industries that pay the most for this profession are electric power generation, transmission, and distribution plants; scientific, professional, and technical services; natural gas distribution companies; businesses managing the transport of crude oil via pipelines; and paperboard, pulp, and paper mills. The top paying states for welders are Alaska, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Wyoming, and North Dakota, according to the BLS. [17]MTI offers a range of certifications for students of its welding programs, including in various types of shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), flux-cored arc welding (FCAW), and gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW). Obtaining a welding job usually also requires certification with the organization in the processes needed for the position. Graduates of its welding programs in Illinois and Missouri typically make $24,517 a year. [18]

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Welder Skills

Working as a welder requires a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Welding programs typically offer a basic overview of the theoretical concepts and hands-on training in the practical skills.

Theoretical Knowledge

  • Blueprint reading
  • Shop math
  • Metallurgy
  • Electricity [19]

Practical Skills

  • Computing
  • Mechanical skills: how to use, maintain, and repair tools and machines
  • Equipment operation [20]
  • Safety practices [21]
  • Welding processes [22]

Welder Qualities and Traits

While individuals learn many of the skills of the trade in welding classes, there are natural qualities and traits that can prove beneficial on the job.

  • Steady hands
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • Physical strength & endurance
  • Attention to detail
  • Sharp spatial orientation [23]
  • Near vision
  • Control precision
  • Critical thinking [24]

Career Opportunities

Welder training, work experience, and certification can lead to career opportunities and advancement.

  • Green jobs: construction and manufacturing [25]
  • Traveling welding jobs: shipbuilding & repair, pipeline installation, motorsports, underwater welding, industrial shutdowns [26]
  • Welder: employment opportunities include pipefitter, boilermaker, structural welder [27]


Education Requirements

Entering the welding profession requires learning a specific skillset. Possessing natural qualities and traits can also prove helpful. Many employers prefer to hire job candidates with formal welding training, and some even pay for the instruction and testing necessary for welder certification. [28]

How to Become a Certified Welder

There are multiple paths to becoming a certified welder: some of the most common are receiving welding training at a vocational school and becoming certified in specific welding processes; taking a welder qualification test to demonstrate proficiency in certain processes through an employer; or validating a skillset through a test administered by an outside organization, such as the American Welding Society (AWS), the American Petroleum Institute (API), or the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). [29] [30] [31] [32] [33]

Licensing & Certification Requirements

Welders may need a state occupational license or certification from a national organization in order to ply their trade. [34] Requirements vary by state and employer. [35]MTI certifies students of its welding program in several welding positions and processes, including those necessary for shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), and flux-cored arc welding (FCAW). The school’s certifications can be helpful when seeking ASME certification. Employers typically also require job candidates to certify in the welding positions necessary for the job. The school offers welding training in Illinois and Missouri. [36]

Similar Professions

  • Assemblers and Fabricators
  • Boilermakers
  • Sheet Metal Workers
  • Industrial Machinery Mechanics
  • Industrial Machinery Maintenance Workers
  • Millwrights
  • Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
  • Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers
  • Metal and Plastic Machine Workers
  • Machinists and Tool and Die Makers [37]


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