Welders and Machinists Job Outlook

Making money in metal!

Good to excellent pay and decent job security are just two reasons workers are attracted to jobs in welding and machining. The best news for prospective students is that current graduates aren't filling up all the positions, so there will still be a steady supply of great opportunities after they will have completed welding school training.

Welders, cutters, solders and brazers

Slow employment growth due to a decline in U.S. manufacturing will be offset by a lack of qualified professionals and large numbers of retiring workers. Most job growth will be in construction. Technological advancements may also allow welding will to be used in more applications.

Welders, cutters, solder and brazers earnings

  • Median hourly earnings - $14.72
  • Middle 50 percent - $11.90 to $18.05
  • Top 10 percent - over $22.20
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $9.79

Setters, operators and tenders earnings
These workers set up and monitor automated welding machines and make between $10 to $24 depending on their skill level.

Machining

The main reason prospects for machining jobs remain positive despite slow growth is that workers with the right skills may choose other careers over one in the production industry.

For the most part, machinists work in manufacturing or small machine shops. Maintenance machinists can work almost anywhere production machinery is used.

Dips in the economy (when demand for machined goods is low) can mean reduced hours or layoffs for workers in the industry. Plant maintenance machinists are most protected from this.

Machinist wages
Job growth could be slow but opportunities good because of a lack of trained workers to fill open positions.

  • Median hourly earnings - $16.33
  • Middle 50 percent - $12.84 to $20.33
  • Top 10 percent - over $24.34
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $10.08

Tool and die maker wages
The number of these skilled machinist positions is expected to decline but opportunities will continue to be excellent. The number of graduates each year is projected to be less than the number of job openings.

  • Median hourly earnings - $20.55
  • Middle 50 percent - $16.70 to $25.93
  • Top 10 percent - over $31.19
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $13.57

CNC programmer wages
Jobs in this occupation will also decline but a low number of students in training will mean good job prospects.

  • Median hourly earnings - $19.31
  • Middle 50 percent - $ 15.67 to $24.00
  • Top 10 percent - over $28.89
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $12.89

Machine tenders, operators and setter wages

These workers can make around $10 to $22 an hour, depending on where they work and their specific duties. The amount of jobs will decline but retirements will mean a large number of job openings.

Statistics courtesy the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2004