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Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Summary

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Quick Facts: Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers
2021 Median Pay $47,010 per year
$22.60 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2020 418,200
Job Outlook, 2020-30 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 34,100

What Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers Do

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to join, repair, or cut metal parts and products.

Work Environment

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers may work outdoors in all types of weather, or they may work indoors, sometimes in a confined area. Most work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Welder, Cutter, Solderer, or Brazer

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, combined with technical and on-the-job training, to enter the occupation.

Pay

The median annual wage for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers was $47,010 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Employment of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 49,200 openings for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers Do About this section

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to join or cut metal parts.

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use hand-held or remotely controlled equipment to join or cut metal parts. They also fill holes, indentations, or seams in metal products.

Duties

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers typically do the following:

  • Read and interpret blueprints, sketches, and specifications
  • Calculate and measure the dimensions of parts to be welded
  • Inspect structures or materials to be welded
  • Weld materials according to blueprint specifications
  • Monitor the welding process and adjust heat as necessary
  • Maintain equipment and machinery

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers use welding torches and other equipment to apply heat to metal pieces, melting and fusing them to form a permanent bond. Some workers specialize in welding; others perform all disciplines or a combination of them.

Welders join metals using a variety of techniques and processes. For example, in arc welding they use machinery that produces electrical currents to create heat and bond metals together. Welders usually choose a welding process based on a number of factors, such as the types of metals being joined.

Cutters use heat from an electric arc, a stream of ionized gas called plasma, or burning gases to cut and trim metal objects to specific dimensions. They also dismantle large objects, such as ships, railroad cars, and buildings.

Solderers and brazers use equipment to heat molten metal and join two or more metal objects. Soldering and brazing are similar, except that the temperature used to melt the filler metal is lower in soldering. Solderers commonly work with small pieces that must be positioned precisely, such as to make computer chips. Brazers connect dissimilar metals through the application of a filler material, which creates strong joints in products created with multiple metals; they also may apply coatings to parts in order to reduce wear and protect against corrosion.

For information on workers who operate welding, soldering, and brazing machines, see the profile on metal and plastic machine workers.

Work Environment About this section

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers wear protective clothing and welding helmets for safety.

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers held about 418,200 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers were as follows:

Manufacturing 64%
Specialty trade contractors 7
Self-employed workers 4
Repair and maintenance 4

Welders and cutters may work outdoors in all types of weather, or indoors, sometimes in a confined area designed to contain sparks and glare. They may work on a scaffold or platform high off the ground.

In addition, they may have to lift heavy objects and work in awkward positions, such as overhead, while bending, stooping, or standing.

Injuries and Illnesses

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers risk injury on the job. They may be exposed to a number of hazards, including fumes, very hot materials, and intense light created by the arc. Workers avoid injuries by following safety procedures and using personal protective equipment, such as welding helmets, hearing protection, and heat-resistant gloves.

Work Schedules

Most welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Many manufacturing firms have two or three 8- to 12-hour shifts each day, allowing the firm to continue production around the clock if needed. As a result, welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers may work evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Welder, Cutter, Solderer, or Brazer About this section

welders cutters solderers and brazers image
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must have a steady hand to hold a torch in place.

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, combined with technical and on-the-job training, to enter the occupation.

Education & Training

Employers often prefer or require candidates to have a high school diploma or equivalent and technical training. This training may be available through high school technical education classes or programs at vocational–technical institutes, community colleges, and private welding, soldering, and brazing schools. In addition, the U.S. Armed Forces offer welding-related training.

Courses in blueprint reading, shop mathematics, and mechanical drawing may be helpful. An understanding of electricity also is useful.

Workers also may enter the occupation through an employer-based apprenticeship program. Some apprenticeships are available for entry-level workers who have no prior experience or training, while others are targeted toward those who have completed a vocational–technical school welding program.

Although some employers hire inexperienced entry-level workers and train them on the job, many prefer to hire workers who have completed training or credentialing programs. Entry-level workers with formal technical training still receive several months of on-the-job training.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Welders must be licensed in some states and localities; requirements vary. Contact individual state or local government licensing agencies for more information.

Professional organizations offer courses leading to general certification. For example, the American Welding Society offers the Certified Welder designation.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) offers certification in practical welding technology for workers seeking to enhance core competencies, and the Institute for Printed Circuits offers certification and training in soldering.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that welders complete training on electrical safety. Other types of OSHA training are available but generally are not required.

Some employers require general or specific certification for particular jobs. They may pay the cost of training and testing for employees.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers perform precision work, often with straight edges. The ability to see characteristics of the joint and detect changes in molten metal flows requires attention to detail.

Manual dexterity. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must have a steady hand to hold a torch in place. They also need good hand–eye coordination.

Physical stamina. These workers must be able to endure long periods in awkward positions while bending, stooping, or standing.

Physical strength. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must be able to lift heavy pieces of metal and move welding or cutting equipment.

Spatial-orientation skills. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers must be able to read and interpret two- and three-dimensional diagrams in order to fit metal products correctly.

Pay About this section

Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Median annual wages, May 2021

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

$47,010

Total, all occupations

$45,760

Metal workers and plastic workers

$42,960

 

The median annual wage for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers was $47,010 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,350, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $63,660.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Specialty trade contractors $48,020
Repair and maintenance 47,530
Manufacturing 46,630

Wages for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers vary with the worker’s experience and skill level, the industry, and the size of the company.

Most welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Many manufacturing firms have two or three 8- to 12-hour shifts each day, allowing the firm to continue production around the clock if needed. As a result, welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers may work evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook About this section

Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

8%

Total, all occupations

8%

Metal workers and plastic workers

2%

 

Employment of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 49,200 openings for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

The nation’s aging infrastructure will require the expertise of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers to help rebuild bridges, highways, and buildings.

Employment projections data for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

51-4121 418,200 452,400 8 34,100 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Assemblers and fabricators Assemblers and Fabricators

Assemblers and fabricators build finished products and the parts that go into them.

High school diploma or equivalent $37,170
Boilermakers Boilermakers

Boilermakers assemble, install, maintain, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases.

High school diploma or equivalent $64,290
Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights install, maintain, and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery.

High school diploma or equivalent $59,380
Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers design, construct, adjust, repair, appraise and sell jewelry.

High school diploma or equivalent $46,640
Machinists and tool and die makers Machinists and Tool and Die Makers

Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate equipment to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.

See How to Become One $47,940
Metal and plastic machine workers Metal and Plastic Machine Workers

Metal and plastic machine workers set up and operate equipment that cuts, shapes, and forms metal and plastic materials or pieces.

See How to Become One The annual wage is not available.
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair piping fixtures and systems.

High school diploma or equivalent $59,880
Sheet metal workers Sheet Metal Workers

Sheet metal workers fabricate or install products that are made from thin metal sheets.

High school diploma or equivalent $53,440

Contacts for More Information About this section

For details about apprenticeships or other work opportunities in this occupation, contact the offices of the state employment service, the state apprenticeship agency, or local businesses that employ welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship program online or by phone at 877-872-5627. Visit Apprenticeship.gov to search for apprenticeship opportunities.

For more information about welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers, visit

American Society of Mechanical Engineers

American Welding Society

Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International

Institute for Printed Circuits

Precision Machined Products Association

O*NET

Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/welders-cutters-solderers-and-brazers.htm (visited July 25, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Thursday, April 28, 2022

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2020

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2020, which is the base year of the 2020-30 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2020-30

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030. The average growth rate for all occupations is 8 percent.

Employment Change, 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.