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Upcoming Labor Trends in Welding

Welder welding aluminum

We’ve been putting welders to work across America for many years, and all that experience has taught us that many welders are of unique commitment. One of the things that set them apart from other skilled tradespeople is how ready and willing some welders are to relocate for an interesting, or new position.

Welders and automation

We were wondering about the future of the trade itself, so we checked in with Aerotek’s Market Research department. First up, do employment trends suggest that the welding trade is less threatened by automation than some other skilled trades?

According to the data, “Much of the automation impact is wildly inconsistent, but you could say potential changes are afoot, with welding requiring even more skill. What we’re seeing in many markets is that welding remains one of the hottest tickets in the country to a good livelihood, readily attainable to anyone with the aptitude for it. This is true in manufacturing but also in the construction and energy labor markets too.”

A recent article highlights how this continued demand for people over automation is “the tightest since 2000, resulting in increased competition for skilled and experienced workers.”

The piece quotes a noted economist as saying, “The energy rebound is putting additional demand on regional markets for skilled workers such as welders and equipment operators. We expect wages in the construction industry to continue to experience above-average gains as labor supply lags behind demand.”

Name your industry

One of the chief reasons welders of all types remain in such high demand is their flexibility to work across a multitude of industries, including the big three of manufacturing, construction and energy.

A recent article from the Tulsa Welding School assessed the top opportunities for welders in key states where the demand for their skill is strongest. For instance, in states like California, where increasingly aging infrastructure has already become seriously degraded, there’s high demand for welders to work on large state water infrastructure projects.

In states like Texas, an ambitious welder has more choice due to a wide range of trades that includes “industrial manufacturing, automotive welding, pipeline welding, ship and boat building and architectural welding.”

Where the jobs are

Texas is considered by many economists to be the “welding jobs capital of the U.S.” Our experience in the Texas market bears this out. For welders on the move, Houston has become a magnet locale, enjoying the highest level of employment for welders of any major metropolitan area.

For the potential nomad welder who’s ready to move for work, our market research team suggests some promising areas for opportunity, including:

  • States like Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana, which are currently seeing new growth in the oil, gas and energy sectors.
  • States like Ohio, Tennessee and South Carolina, all of which are undergoing a resurgence in manufacturing.
  • And states like Utah, Washington, Florida and New York, where the construction market is booming.

Specialties matter

In many trades, the opportunity to specialize in a particular area is often available, and welding is no exception. Some welders train to specialize in a particular technique, carving out a real area of expertise for themselves, while others pride themselves on having a broad knowledge of a variety of skills, on being a “master of all.”

If you’re a welder who’s just starting out, or one who is considering a possible upskilling, it’s essential that you know where the demand is greatest for one specialty or another. Our research team developed a topline analysis of a large volume of welding job openings across a range of industries and regions, and here’s what they found:

  • MIG welding was listed in 45% of postings
  • TIG welding came up in 15% of postings

Welder career pathing

As with many skilled trades, the optimal path for an aspiring welder flows through technical schools, community colleges and good, old-fashioned, on-the-job training.

Each path offers advantages, but technical and trade schools may offer the quickest route. Some courses are as brief as two-four weeks, and upon completion, students are eligible for an American Welding Society (AWS) certification.

When you’re ready to get to work, in whatever state, industry or specialty you’re interested in, we stand ready and eager to help. Check out our available opportunities and keep your resume updated so we can aid in your job search.