Welding is the most popular way of permanently connecting metal, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in its 2010-2011 occupational handbook. The bureau notes that, with the proper certification, most graduates of a welding school should find no difficulty in landing a job. Once employed, the average hourly rate earned by a welder varies depending on factors such as location.
Nationally, America's more than 357,000 welders earn an hourly rate of $17.61. If the welder works full-time, she can expect to bring in $36,630 a year. Welders in the 25th percentile -- that means 75 percent of welders earn more than this group -- net $13.60 an hour while welders in the 75th percentile earn $20.39 hourly.
Top Three Employers by Employment Size
Architectural and structural manufacturers employ the greatest proportion of welders in the nation, according to the bureau. Here, welders earn an average hourly rate of $16.03. This rises slightly at agriculture and mining machine manufacturers -- the second biggest employer -- where welders bring in $17.12 an hour. Commercial and industrial machine repair companies come in third and pay an average of $17.26 an hour.
Top Three Employers by Salary
Get a job in the spectator sports industry as a welder, and you'll earn an average of $29.73 -- a significant jump over the national average. National gas companies place second when it comes to welding wages, doling out $26.81. In third place you'll find pulp and paper mills, ringing in at $26.27.
States by Employment Concentration
Wyoming's welders make up the most concentrated workforce of welders in the country. The state's welders can expect an average hourly wage of $22.45. Closely following Wyoming comes Louisiana, which pays $19.60 on average. Oklahoma is home to the third biggest concentration of welders, where they net just $16.71 an hour.
States by Salary
Head west -- and north -- for the best wages on a state-by-state basis. Alaska places first at $29.59. The "Aloha State" of Hawaii ranks second, at $25.10. On the opposite side of the country, the District of Columbia comes third at $24.95 an hour.