What are the highest paying welding jobs?

Seabery Welding Lab
December 20, 2021

Welding, like most professions, is a trade in which continuous learning, the pursuit of advanced certifications, and moving into specializations can all lead people towards higher pay brackets.

In this piece, we will look at some of the highest-paying welding positions, as well as provide additional insight about how you can earn more as a welder. All figure ranges are approximations based on multiple sets of industry data.

Pipe Welders

$25,000 – $130,000

The typical pipe welder can expect to earn $50-60k, so this is a well-paying position that offers a lot of flexibility. Pipe welders install and repair pipes for many industries, especially construction, engineering, and manufacturing.

The job is not an easy one, but it’s not as specialized as some of the other positions we will discuss. It will require a lot of hard work, long hours, and tough conditions. Some say that pipe welders have to be fit and limber to master this role, as the pipes don’t move, so the welder must physically adapt to every situation. This presents challenges and dangers that justify the high pay bracket.

Pipe welders who work in the oil industry, or even green energy, are likely to earn the most money. This is even more true for those willing to work offshore or in other parts of the world.


  • Complete a welding training program (MIG, TIG, or Stick)
  • Continuous practical development and training

Underwater Welders

$40,000 $200,000

One of the most difficult and risk-enduring jobs in the welding world is that of the underwater welder. Submerged, in complex conditions, and with advanced tasks to fulfil, only those who are immensely skilled and who can handle pressure are up to the task. There’s a great deal of training and physical conditioning to go through and of course, you need to be an expert welder when not underwater. 

Offshore oil and gas are the typical employers, but you can also find work in shipbuilding. Remember, you need to be a water lover, as you’ll spend much of your working time either preparing to submerge or on the ocean floor. An average salary is likely to be around $60-70k, but the top companies will pay the best underwater welders as much as $200k. This justifies the time, effort, personal expense, and difficulty that it takes to obtain everything listed below.


  • Complete a welding training program (MIG, TIG, or Stick)
  • Complete advanced international diving courses
  • Obtain commercial diving certifications
  • Wet welding certification (AWS)
  • OSHA certifications (if U.S Based)
  • CPR training
  • Underwater first aid training

Nuclear Welder

$25,000 – $140,000

Nuclear welding is fairly niche and often leads expert welders to projects such as building nuclear-powered vessels, working in shipyards, and repairing reactors. This is one of the most varied and difficult positions in the industry and so will demand an average salary of around $70,000.


  • Complete a welding training program (MIG, TIG, or Stick)
  • Underwater welding certification
  • Commercial diving certification

Military Support Welders

$40,000 – $160,000

This is another specialized welding position that could lead you far away from home and into the face of danger. If the project you’re being sent to work on is in a warzone or a region of conflict, the pay packet will be considerably higher. On the other hand, many military support welders are positioned on a base close to home, with considerably less risk. The majority of tasks include maintaining buildings, ships, and equipment. 

This career path can lead you into the army, navy, coast guard, national guard, marines, or air force, all with very different needs and pay structures.


  • Complete a welding training program that teaches: GMAW, GTAW, FCAW, and SMAW
  • Complete military training

Certified Welding Supervisor

$30,000 – $80,000

Supervisor jobs are perfect for the more responsible and safety-inclined welders, who see dangers before they happen, and who know that protecting welder health is vital to doing a good job. These positions are well sought after and involve doing regular safety checks, taking care of welders’ well-being, meeting timelines within budget, and doing quality control. 

It’s the certified welding inspector’s job to make sure guidelines are met and safety precautions are respected. 

This is a step into management, and so it requires:

  • Full training as a welder
  • Significant welding experience, the more the better (5+ years as standard)
  • Leadership skills
  • Eye for detail
  • Safety certifications
  • Professional certification for supervising

Certified Welding Inspector

$42,000 – $100,000

Make note that a supervisor and inspector might appear at first glance to be the same thing, but they actually undertake very different responsibilities. Whereas a supervisor is more about compliance, deadlines, and safety, the certified welding inspector is responsible for the evaluation of completed welds, running tests, and keeping on top of documentation. This means that the inspector won’t do a lot of welding, but needs to be probably the best welder on the whole team to maintain high standards.


  • Full training as a welder
  • Deep knowledge of every welding process and industry standard
  • Three years of welding experience
  • Professional certifications
  • Be a great communicator and team player

Rig Welder

$50,000 – $200,000+

We’ve saved the biggest earner until last. In general, rig welders are the highest earners in the industry. They are hired for the most difficult, important, and prominent jobs, the welds in which a lot of risk hangs in the balance. This is the job for the best welders, so not everyone is cut out for rig welding. It requires long and difficult time commitments, an advanced education, and numerous qualifications. On top of that, you might need more than a decade of experience in welding before a company will even read your CV. 

Rig welders will do all sorts of tricky and technical procedures, including everything you read about underwater welding. This position will involve long periods away from home, long hours 7 days a week, and difficult working conditions and travel. 

7 Ways to Earn More as a Welder

  • Qualification and certifications
  • Developing specialized skills
  • Taking on greater risk or responsibility
  • Keeping patient and pursuing more hands-on experience
  • Being willing to travel overseas or spending lengthy periods on rigs
  • Taking on a busier schedule
  • Developing leadership skills that will get you noticed for promotions