Highest Paying Welding Jobs That Pay 100k


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If you are looking for the highest paying welding jobs that make 100k welding and considering a career in welding, then this guide is for you.

There is a lot of discrepancy out there stating that it is not possible to make 100k welding.  Experts from the corporate and collegiate universities state that welding jobs do not pay that much.

While that might be true for some welding jobs, it is not true for all welding jobs.

Some of the highest paying welding jobs that pay 100k would include nuclear welders, welding business and shop owners, overseas military support welders, and underwater welders. Certifications from the American Welding Society are necessary in most cases to increase your chances of earning 100k welding.

Top Highest-Paying Welding Jobs:

  • Military Support Welder Salary Range: $62,000 – $200,000
  • Underwater Welder Salary Range: $55,000 – $200,000
  • Nuclear Welder Salary Range: $60,000 – $185,000
  • Industrial Pipeline Welder Salary Range: $55,000 – $175,000
  • Business Owner Welder Salary Range: $55,000 – $150,000

Down below we have broken out the detail on these specific welding jobs and fields in the profession.

Welding Jobs That Pay 100k

You can make 100k welding by focusing on the highest paying welding jobs.  Those jobs would include a nuclear welder, military support welder, and an underwater welder.  Additionally, a lot of welding shops have welding business owner salaries in excess of $100,000.

welding jobs that pay 100k
Some of the welding jobs that pay 100k include military support welder, underwater welder, nuclear welder, ironworker welder, and industrial pipeline welder.

There are also other things to consider such as education, training, and prior experience in the welding field as well that significantly impacts your earnings.  These jobs are not intended with just a few years of welding experience, but rather more long-term prospect.  In other words, starting out in these fields are welding jobs that pay 100k down the road.

So if you are looking how to make more money as a welder then be sure to check out or detailed guide below.

It will lay out the best strategy how to make 100k welding by focusing on the highest paying welding jobs.

How Much Do Welders Make an Hour?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a welders salary per hour is $20.43.  This rate is across all welding industries which include all welders positions such as cutters, ironworker welders, solderers, and brazers.  In some areas of the country, welders can make significantly more where there is a shortage of skilled welders available.

Highest Paying Welding Jobs Per Industry

It is possible to make 100k welding.  In order to make 100k welding, its essential that you focus on the highest paying welding jobs in the field.  By focusing on the highest paying welding jobs, you will improve your chances how to make 100k welding.  Some of the highest paying welding jobs include military support welders, underwater welders, pipe welders, nuclear welders, and business owner welders.

Military Support Welder Salary

While a lot of people question whether or not making 100k welding as a military support welder is possible, it can be attainable under certain conditions.  Military support welders salary in the federal government have an average salary of $62,848 in 2018 according to federalpay.org.

Military Support Welder Salary
Military Support Welder Salary: $62,000 – $200,000

This amount is based on military support welders salary only.

  • Military Support Welder Salary ranges from $62,000 to over $200,000 

A lot of military support welders for the Navy, Army, and Airforce must also be overseas.  At times of war or other missions that take place in the federal government involving national security, welders must be on hand to make parts, repairs to aircrafts, ships, and structures of a base overseas.

Welding Overseas in the Military

How to make 100k as a military support welder certainly involves being based overseas or living on a base.  Additionally, there are other financial factors that you have to take into account.

For example a military support welder often times receives a housing allowance.  This can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars a month to over $1,000.

There are several factors that affect the housing allowance of a military support welder in the government.  One of those factors is whether or not the welder has dependents.  If they have dependents, they can receive an additional allowance.

The same holds true if they are also an officer with the Army and they can receive extra allowance pay. If a military support welder has to relocate temporarily for an assignment and becomes separated from their family, they can receive additional compensation for that. Look into the pros and cons of hiring an accountant to see if you need one for overseas work.

Another allowance for military support welder is reserve pay since military support welders often serve as part of the reserves unit.  Reserve pay varies based on years of experience.

Federal Government Military Support Welder

If you add up all of the allowances on top of the federal government military support welder average salary of $62,848 as noted above, you can make over 100k welding as a military support welder for the federal government.

There are some variables to consider such as experience and years of service, office status, but you can make 100k welding with the government.

Additionally if you are fortunate enough to find an opportunity as a military support welder contractor, you can make 100k welding.  Working as a military support welder can be considered one of the highest paying welding jobs due to the danger involved.

It is not uncommon for welding contractors to make over 100k welding overseas especially in the middle-east area.

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Underwater Welder Salary

Another one of the highest paying welding jobs to make 100k welding would be to become an underwater welder.

There are two different types of underwater welders known as offshore divers and onshore divers.  Both of these terms (although called divers) translate to underwater welders.

If you want to earn 6 figures welding as an underwater welder, then you should focus on offshore diving.  With just as little as five years experience, an underwater welder can make over 100k.

Underwater Welder Salary
Underwater Welder Salary: $55,000 – $200,000

An underwater welder salary is one of the highest paid welding jobs there is.

  • Underwater Welder Salary ranges from $55,000 to $200,000

Some underwater divers are also known as saturation divers.  Saturation divers receive pay premiums based on the depth of the dive.  The deeper an underwater diver goes for the job, the additional pay they can receive.

A saturation diver can receive well over 100k for welding considering the additional pay for the depth of the job.

A lot of underwater divers go all the way to the bottom of ocean and channel floors.  This is because the oil and gas industry have a lot of pipes that run on the bottom of large water channels.

When an underwater welder has to go that deep, it takes a strain on the body of the welder  That is why the depth pay is more lucrative the deeper the underwater dive has to go because the diver has to assume more risk to himself and his body tissue.

Make no mistake there is a lot of certification and training that is necessary to safely perform welds and wet dives in the water.  Underwater welding is one of the highest paying welding jobs because of all the risk.

Some of those risks include drowning, shock, explosions, and overall sickness and fatigue on your body due to the descending and ascending in the water.  That is why underwater welding is considered one of the highest paying welding jobs to make 100k welding.

Underwater Welder Safety and Certification

Certification is a must if you are considering an career as an underwater welder and there are a lot of dive schools that can teach how to properly become an underwater diver safely.

Here are some of the best underwater welding schools available for training and certification:

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Nuclear Welder Salary

The salary of a nuclear welder is in the same boat as an underwater welder due to all of the risk associated with nuclear welding.  A lot of the highest paying welding jobs for nuclear welding positions are with the Department of Energy.

As a nuclear welder, you will work with components that house nuclear elements either presently or in the future.  This may include jobs at nuclear power plants or for the government and armed services.

Nuclear Welder Salary
Nuclear Welder Salary: $60,000 – $185,000

Additionally, a lot of nuclear welders have to pass rigorous background checks due to the nature of these jobs with the government.

  • Nuclear Welder Salary ranges from $60,000 to $185,000

Some nuclear welders may work on projects directly related to the national security of the Country.

Whether that be navy vessels, or machinery, a vetted background check by the FBI is required.  These types of nuclear welders are also called “nuclear cleared welders” because of this background clearance component that is required.

Some FBI background checks can last 6 months to a year as they are very thorough.  FBI background checks include talking to former employers and even neighbors in person in some circumstances.

As a result of the necessary security clearance and also the element of high risk working with nuclear elements, compensation is high.

Nuclear cleared welders and nuclear welders are one of the highest paying welding jobs there is.

Additionally, if you decide to work as a nuclear welder, the top 11% in the field make over 100k welding as a nuclear welder according to ZipRecruiter.

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Industrial Pipeline Welder Salary

Industrial pipeline welders are also considered one of the highest paying welding job in the field of welding.  Pipeline welders can also make over 100k welding.

industrial pipeline welder salary
Industrial Pipeline Welder Salary: $55,000 – $175,000

The greatest chance to make over six figures welding as an industrial pipeline welder is by traveling to where the work is needed. South Dakota pipeline welding jobs are in demand.

Pipeline welders work a lot for the oil and gas industry repairing pipes that carry resources such as oil and natural gas.

As such, you will work a lot in places such as Alaska, Oklahoma, and Texas at refineries where oil companies and oil fields are located. Pipe welding jobs in Arizona are also popular.

  • Industrial Pipeline Welder Salary ranges from $55,000 to over $175,000

Additionally, there are tons of cargo ships that travel back and fourth from US to China.  A lot of those ships are like floating cities, with tons of infrastructure.

Pipeline welders have to travel on those ships in order to make emergency repairs to critical pipelines if an emergency should arise.

The same thing is true with the cruise ship industry.  Those mammoth boats are floating cities that must support thousands of passengers. Cruise ships have their own water treatment operations and also must carry a ton of fuel. As a result, cruise ships other must have pipeline welders on hand to make repairs as emergencies arise.

Oil and Gas Industry Employ Pipeline Welders

However, mainly it is the oil and gas industry that employs most of the pipeline welders.  The life of a pipeline welder will involve travel due to the fact that the oil & gas industry is location-specific for the most part.

You could work for your local utility company as well (they do employ pipeline welders) but if you want to know how to make 100k welding, you will have to be open to traveling in some of the above scenarios.

That is why the industrial pipeline welder is one of the highest paying welding jobs to make 100k welding.

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Business Owner Welder Salary

A lot of people wonder if a welding business is profitable?  The salary for a welder can be substantial if they have their own welding shop. A welding business can be considered in the ranks of highest paying welding jobs as well.  A welding business can be profitable and make 100k welding by having a solid business plan and their own established shop, but also by starting a mobile welding business as well.

business owner welder salary
Business Owner Welder Salary: $55,000 – $150,000

How you run your welding business and the decisions you make will affect the salary of a business owner as well based on the type of welding he is doing, the type of jobs, and the contracts that are established.

  • Salary for a welder business owner ranges from profit of $55,000 to over $150,000.

Some contracts might be by the job, while others might be for large suppliers such as for the auto industry or aviation industry.

Start a Welding Shop

There are a couple different ways you can run your own welding business.  Focusing on your business plans is key to your welding shop becoming one of the highest paying welding jobs for you.

The first would be with a permanent shop with a physical facility.  You will have to secure a place o set up your shop.  Things that will impact your welding shop will be the type of structure you need.

  • Can you run a welding shop out of your garage?
  • Do you have room to build a shop on your primary residence property somewhere?
  • Be sure to look into local ordinances to se what is permitted.
  • If buying an established facility, will you pay rent or buy property outright?

Keep in mind, it will be extremely difficult to start up a welding shop with a couple years experience.  The best way to make 100k welding as a business owner would be after you have at least a decade in the field and have acquired a ton of contacts who are willing to offer you contracts for welding jobs.

By leveraging the power of networking with people and jobs you have done over the years, you might be able to branch out later in life to make 100k welding on your own with your on business on your terms.

You must consider how to construct your physical shop and buy inventory, equipment, and materials that you need to buy for welding jobs.

Running your own business can be considered one of the best highest paying welding jobs available because you are calling the shots and making the decisions.

Start a Mobile Welding Business

The other way to make 100k welding is by starting a mobile welding business.  By following this avenue to welding profits, you can grow your business at your own pace.  You can start a mobile welding business by investing in welding equipment, buying a vehicle to transport equipment in, and focusing on high-profit customers that you can drive to.  You can also charge higher rates since a mobile welding business is seen as more of an “on-demand” service.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of expense for someone to run their own welding shop with the cost of the physical welding shop structure.

By starting a mobile welding business, you can defer some of those costs initially until you become more profitable.

You will still need to make an initial investment in items such as a portable welding machine along with welding equipment and materials to travel with you.

Also, you will need some type of cargo van or truck to move your equipment around in.  The advantages of starting a mobile welding business are that you can travel to the job sites which might yield higher profits on your bottom line.

This advantage is why a mobile business could also be considered one of the highest paying welding jobs as well.

When you have a mobile welding business, you can select only the highest paying welding jobs to keep your profit margins high.  By focusing on that, you will be able to make 100k welding as a mobile welder in no time at all.

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Welding Certification Salary

In order to land one of the highest paying welding jobs, you need to be certified with an AWS welding certification.  By having an AWS welding certification, you are in a better position to make 100k welding at the jobs mentioned above. A certified welder salary is a clear advantage if you are looking to boost your earnings.

The American Welding Society (AWS) is a professional welding organization that offers specialized welding certifications in a lot of different welding areas. 

Top Welding Certifications:

  • Welding Inspector
  • Resistance Welding
  • Radiographic Interpreter
  • Welding Supervisor
  • Welding Engineer
  • Welder Program
  • Robotic ARC Welding

Becoming certified as a welder will land you the highest paying welding jobs.  That is why most welders choose to get certified in order to make 100k welding or even to do welding on the side in addition to their full time careers.

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Welding Certification Cost

The AWS welding certification costs vary depending on the certification required.  Generally all of the certifications are over $1,000 including the exam.

You can find the welding certification cost price list for AWS that will break down the costs for courses and certification.

How Long Does it Take to Get Certified as a Welder?

There are other welder trade schools and training programs out there in addition to AWS.  To get certified as a welder take anywhere from 6 months to 9 months depending on speed and scheduling of courses.

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Related Questions:

How Much Does a Welder Assistant Make?

A welder assistant is a skilled worker who has the ability to perform tasks such as welding, brazing, and cutting. The average annual salary for a welder assistant in the United States ranges from $32k-$37k. A typical day at work for a welder assistant would include using electric arc welding tools to join metal parts together by melting them together with an electric current; using gas-fueled or air-powered torches to cut steel sheets into smaller pieces; operating industrial machinery like drills and grinders that are used in production of various goods; assembling products like car engines, refrigerators, and washing machines on assembly lines.

Make Six Figures a Year Welding

As you can see, it is possible to make six figures a year welding even if you are just looking to become an ironworker welder.  With the right experience, certification, equipment, and conditions, it is possible to make 100k welding. Focusing on the highest paying welding careers is also vital, along with networking for jobs and contracts. Welders for hire offer great opportunities.

Traveling is also essential especially overseas to areas of high political risk if you are looking to make six figures a year welding with the government.

Welding is a great skilled trade to know how to do safely.  These are the best highest paying welding jobs available if you are looking to take your welding career and income to the next level.

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BG Vance

For over 20 years, BG Vance has been a leader in public and personal financial management. He's developed and managed public budgets in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars. He is passionate about the FIRE movement and was featured in the Detroit News in 2001 about saving for retirement. Through the years, he's assisted families and individuals with getting their finances on track. He holds an MPA, is a licensed Realtor, and is currently working on a book about personal finance.

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