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Welder: What I do and how much I make

Neil talks about his responsibilities and compensation as an industrial welder.

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Video transcript

My name is Neil. I am 32. I work as welder and my annual salary is between 70 and $90,000 a year. I work for a medium sized industrial contractor that is based on the west coast but we do, or they have done jobs throughout the country and also like internationally. When you get to work everyday, the first thing a welder does, you go to your job area because usually these are really big sites, you know, we've worked at mines that are 45 miles long. So you have to get to your job area and then you have to get the welding machine ready and you have to lay out your leads and you have to get the tools which, you know, you can be working with I-beams or pipe that weigh up to several thousand pounds each so you probably have to get a forklift or a crane to get the metal to where it needs to be to where you can weld it and then you weld it. And you're using a lot of grinders and hand tools to prep the metal for welding. It can take up to like a couple of hours to get setup to do a weld. I've had welds that the weld itself took 15 minutes to complete and I had to wait three days to do it because we had to wait for a crane to come to lift off a piece of machinery so we could access the pipe. And then once we accessed it, we had to get safety to come over and check to make sure we were doing it right and then the middle had to come in and say, "Oh, everything looks good around here." And then by that time, the crane moved so we couldn't pick it up and oh my God. That's the one thing about being a welder is that you're job is going to entail a lot of waiting but it's your job to be ready to go when the time's right so you need to always have your little bucket with your hood and your rod and everything you need right then. When they've gotten everything ready for the weld, you need to be ready to do it. The field of welding is very large. There's many different kinds of things you can do with it. The kind of subfield that I've chosen, industrial field, they're the biggest projects, the dirtiest, that you're going to be like away from home the longest. I rarely end the day where I don't need to take a shower and wash my clothes. Like you're going to be getting dirty. You're going to be working hard. It's a trade that is pretty hard on the body. They've done a lot in recent years to make sure that you know you can work your entire working life and not have any kind of serious health issues, but it's still hard on your body. Like my knees hurt at the end of the day. You know you get little cuts and scrapes on your hands and that's just part of it. So it's not really for somebody who's not willing to get dirty and get things done. I have days where I look at the health data in my phone and I walked about 12 miles that day. There's lots of walking around. There's lots of like getting in a cramped little position and lying down on an I-beam, you know, 35 feet in the air or trying to unbolt some stupid little bolt that's in your way. Usually the worst days on the job for me because we work outside for the most part are just when there's bad weather. If we're running six weeks behind, a little bit of rain is not going to keep us from working. We're working in the rain. We've worked in the snow. I've worked in 105 degree weather which is not very fun when you're a welder because it's hot. The best days are usually where you get to like really like excel at your skill, where I'm like I'm a pipe welder. I made some cool pipes today. And you look at them and you're like those pipe, everything is very straight, they run where they need to. Like they look good, the welds look good. They all pass x-ray. Everybody who walks by notice a little bit like, "Oh, those pipes look good." Guys who are around this stuff really know. You can walk by something and look at it and tell that somebody did a good job at it. And even if it's, you know, a pipe that's under a huge piece of equipment that nobody really looks at, when somebody pulls out the grading tool to like repair the bottom, whatever it is, they're going to look at and they're going to be like, "Huh, somebody did a good job here."