A few years ago, we published an article on the top states where the top-earning welders make the most money: which states boast the highest welder salaries? How much do welders make per hour in each state?
The article featured a series on jobs started by USA Today, which used Lightcast data to focus on middle-skill fields, like welding, that students could prepare for with a community college education. The article also featured a piece by The Wall Street Journal about a 24-year-old Texan who made $140,000 in 2014 as a welder after graduating from Texas State Technical College.
The original version of our article turned out to be so popular, we decided to review the data and update it. Plus, with many people returning to higher education to upskill or change their field of work due to current economic upheavals, it’s good to remember that it doesn’t always take a four-year degree to land a good career and comfortable income.
When we wrote this article back in 2015, the data compared the 2013 earnings of the top 10th percentile of welders in the top and bottom 6 states for welders with the median earnings in those states.
At the time this data was pulled, welders in the top 10th percentile made the most in Alaska, at $43.83 per hour. Hawaii and North Dakota followed close behind ($39.75 and $39.05, respectively). Top-end welder salaries in these states make $83,000 to $91,000 per year if they work full time (40 hours per week for 52 weeks).
Including Alaska, Hawaii, and North Dakota, the top 6 states for welders were:
The bottom 6 states were:
What does the most recent data tell us?
Using data from Q1 of 2020, the current top 6 states are:
The bottom 6 are:
Alaska remains in the top spot, but Hawaii and North Dakota have dropped into fifth and eighth place, respectively, and New Mexico leap-frogged 4 other states for second place. But there’s still more we can look at when analyzing welder salaries.
In this data pull, we added another layer of analysis: cost of living (CoL). Welders might make the most money in Alaska, but how far will that money get you in Alaska, based on how expensive it is to live there? When welders earnings are adjusted for cost of living, we get an entirely different result.
When adjusted for cost of living, the data shows us that New Mexico takes the top spot, with the top 10th percentile of welders making $45.65/hour before CoL adjustment, and $44.19 after CoL adjustment. While welders in Alaska might make the most money, that money has less purchasing power than in other states. This illustrates the importance of considering cost of living when comparing wages across different geographic areas (an important concept we’ve written about before).
When comparing the most recent data with data from 2013, the last question to ask is, “Have these jobs grown since we last covered them?” In all but four states and the District of Columbia, the answer is, “Yes!” And in 23 states, there have been over 1,000 openings annually since 2013. The opportunities for high-wage, high-skills jobs without needing a four-year degree are still out there.
Want to see the most recent job postings data for welders? Check out our Job Postings Dashboard, where you can search job postings data by occupation, as well as by industry, company, job title, and skills.