Friday, March 20, 2015

A market signal that there is demand for welders

HOUSTON — Ryan Gassett had already put in a full day, moving heavy boxes and furniture for $15 an hour, when his introductory welding class began at 10 p.m. By the time he arrived at Lone Star College north of Houston, the highway toll collectors at the exit for the school had closed for the night and the campus janitors were mopping bathrooms. 
The graveyard-shift course was not his first choice, Mr. Gassett, 19, explained, but “there were no other openings.” So he took what he could get. 
...Entry-level welders can earn about $16.50 an hour. Experienced structural welders earn over $30, plus a per diem expense bonus. Specialty welders command $55 to $100 an hour, the upper end offered for someone, say, who can work underwater...
..Mr. Parks at San Jacinto College said they could barely keep pace. “Most of our students are getting snatched up before they finish their certification,” he said. Enrollment in its welding classes has grown by 75 percent since 2010. Two years ago, the college added 10 p.m.-to-2 a.m. classes to meet the demand. “We would offer more classes if we could,” Mr. Parks said, but the school can’t find any more instructors. 
Night welding classes at San Jacinto and Lone Star attract high school graduates with no experience
who live at home, entry-level welders who want to increase their skills and pay, and experienced craftsmen from other states who are lured here by the high pay but lack a degree. Many begin their schooling only when their day jobs end.
I don't think people who say there is strong demand for scientists know what strong demand looks like.

*(I don't think you can call a situation where 4 answers to "Who Should Pay for Workers’ Training?" range from "the taxpayers" to "someone else" a debate.)

Credit: Lisa Balbes
UPDATE: Lisa Balbes sends in a photo: "I've seen this at a couple national boy scout events - showing the boys what a great career welding is." I wonder what the American Welding Society's annual operating budget is?


  1. With the drop in oil prices my assumption is the current demand for welders has largely disappearing and likely switch to greater supply than demand. Another typical Boom and Bust cycle in the oil business.

  2. 200K/year for specialty welding eh? How many welding certifications could you get in the space it takes to do a chem PhD?

    1. The thing that bothers me about these articles on welding is they never talk about what it takes to earn 200k in welding. I presume it takes:

      1. A crapton of overtime.
      2. Working (as Anon1221p says) in dangerous environments.
      3. A lot of experience (i.e. 5+ years.)

      Is saying "some welders make 200k" sort of like saying "some chemists make 200k?"

    2. That's fair. Still, I wonder what the opportunity cost comparison between chemistry PhD and welding would like if someone did it.

    3. 6.3 years X student stipend plus 5 years PhD industrial salary


      (cost of 1 year training for welding certificate) + (9.3 years of working as a welder)

    4. Well yes, but the trick is filling in those values and, I think equally importantly, getting some sense of the possible variance in the possible PhD salary (could be 100k if you work for DuPont, could be 50k for a smaller company).

    5. The ACS Salary Survey would get you what you want (or at least some values to work with.) Are you an ACS member? If so, the ACS Salary Comparator can get you really granular data that needs to be taken with a couple three grains of salt.

  3. Underwater welding is a death wish. I'd rather work my (reasonably fun, challenging) chemistry job at 50/hr than risk dying daily for $100/hr.

  4. I'd have to agree with anonymous 10:51AM.

    My son got his welding certifications several years ago. Bounced around at a few $11-13/hr jobs with no benefits for a while and was "recruited" by a company that built heavy-duty coal mining equipment. The company was doing nationwide searches for hourly welders. All went well for about 3 years, and then they layed off over 80% of its "highly valued" welders. (Remind anyone of pharma and chem. ind. platitudes about "most valued assets?")

    And note that even $30/hr is $60K/yr without overtime.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20