Some of the most lucrative jobs in the welding profession involve hard work and long hours; however, many welders admit the perks outweigh the pitfalls when it comes to these highly sought-after positions.
Welding shutdown jobs are popular for good reason. While these positions don’t tend to offer a traditional 9 to 5 schedule, they typically come with a plethora of advantages, from high salaries and extended time off, to exciting travel opportunities.
This article will cover everything you need to know about a welding shutdown career, including the scope of work, common responsibilities, average salary, and career development opportunities. We’ll also discuss the typical amount of travel and types of welding jobs available, along with the advantages and disadvantages associated with shutdown work. Finally, we’ll share how Surehand can help you save time and energy by searching for open positions on your behalf.
Industrial sites, such as manufacturing and production plants, must shutdown periodically for scheduled maintenance. In some cases, these factories and plants are forced to close temporarily due to emergency maintenance needs. Regardless of the reason(s), industrial shutdowns can be incredibly pricey.
Experienced welders are typically hired to inspect machinery and perform necessary maintenance. These temporary contractors tend to work long hours in order to complete essential tasks in a timely manner.
Common responsibilities include temporary and/or permanent repairs to indoor or outdoor pipes. Shutdown welders also inspect all welds for proper fit by utilizing various inspection methods, which may involve electronic devices and X-ray machinery.
Many industrial sites opt to hire only highly skilled welders who are able to pass a series of tests prior to starting scheduled or emergency maintenance. Some industrial sites may require a welding certification. Welders may be expected to complete an interview and/or math exam. Pipe welders are often asked to perform a fitting test before starting a job. Additionally, many companies conduct drug and alcohol screenings, federal background checks, and some workers may be required to hold a security clearance. In the case that a welder does not meet the necessary requirements, he or she may not be hired.
Some sites may have tools on hand for contracted welders, but in many cases, contractors are expected to carry their own equipment, which may include safety gear and general tools, along with welding tools specific to the job. It’s important for welders to ask for a list of required tools and equipment to ensure they arrive at the jobsite prepared.
While the average pay for welders is just under $47,000 annually, according to Payscale.com, shutdown welders generally make much more. In fact, GoWelding.org reports that some shutdown welding jobs pay more than $150,000 per year. It’s important to note that pay range can vary greatly depending on education, certification, experience, skillset, and location.
The workweek is anything but average, with shutdown welders working 84+ hours per week; however, the majority of these workers take up to six months off each year, which is considered a major advantage in the shutdown welding field.
Unscheduled shutdowns often increase demand, with employers looking for highly skilled welders who are willing to relocate quickly. These emergency jobs often come with a loftier pay rate.
According to Weldingpros.net, the states with the highest rate of pay for shutdown welders include:
There are numerous career options in the welding profession. Some only call for a high school diploma or equivalent, while others require a college education, technical degree, and/or apprenticeship. On-the-job experience is often just as important to employers as education. Luckily, there’s no shortage of positions for new and experienced welders. As of 2018, there were 424,700 jobs in the welding field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In many cases, welders will gain experience in a traditional welding job before entering the world of shutdown welding. From machinists and sheet metal workers to assemblers and pipefitters, the sky’s the limit when it comes to growth opportunities.
Many times, shutdown welders are referred to as traveling welders. That’s because many of these folks travel to various job sites throughout the country, depending on where they’re needed.
The shutdown welding profession can be unpredictable. Some men and women view the ever-changing nature of the field an adventure, as most traveling welders are unaware of where their next opportunity will take them.
Shutdown welders may travel up to 1,000 miles with only a day’s notice. While some employers pay for welders’ hotel stay, many contractors are expected to cover their own accommodations, food, etc. For this reason, traveling welders generally keep plenty of money on hand for travel and living expenses.
Although frequent travel and long hours can make shutdown welding jobs tiresome, traveling welders are able to set their own schedules, with the flexibility to take extended time off between shutdowns to rest, recover, and prepare for their next adventure.
As mentioned previously, there are a multitude of opportunities for shutdown welders. With experience and the right skillset, traveling welders are able to find work year-round. The many types of shutdown welding jobs include:
Welding Helpers: Some employers will hire shutdown helpers to assist welders with their tools and equipment, and maintain a clean, clutter-free environment. While a helper’s salary is typically considerably less than that of a skilled welder, these entry-level positions are a great way to break into the welding field.
Boilermakers: Individuals skilled in boilermaking can fabricate iron, copper, and/or steel to build large vessels, such as boilers, to contain hot liquids or gases. Boilermakers are often hired on a per diem basis to repair boiler systems.
Ironworkers: These tradespeople assemble and install large metal pieces to form structural frameworks. Ironworkers are often hired for shutdown positions when metal components require maintenance.
Sheet Metal Workers: Because sheet metal is utilized throughout many industries, sheet metal workers are in high demand. During shutdowns, these individuals may be hired to install new metal sheets, inspect existing metal, and/or fasten joints or seams using a variety of welding techniques.
Production Welders: Men and women who work as production welders fuse metal by using heat and other welding methods. Their expertise may be utilized to repair metal components through a variety of procedures, including laser welding, during shutdowns.
Welding Inspectors: People who work as welding inspectors are in high demand, both in traditional positions at industrial sites and itinerant shutdown jobs. Typically, inspectors oversee welding staff, focusing on high-quality work and adherence to stringent deadlines.
As with virtually any career path, there are advantages and disadvantages that come with shutdown welding jobs. When weighing the pros and cons, be sure to consider your lifestyle and relationships, as well as your short and long-term goals.
Many traveling welders can’t imagine returning to a traditional welding role. Advantages of shutdown work include:
While some folks enjoy the job security that a traditional career path can offer, many traveling welders love the flexibility and lack of long-term commitments. With most jobs lasting anywhere from a few days to several weeks or months, shutdown welders have the option to travel from one jobsite to the next or take a breather between jobs.
The majority of traveling welders travel to many states within a year’s time, and some even opt to travel internationally. While there’s limited downtime, welding professionals may choose to stay in a location after the job is complete to explore the area.
Although many shutdown welding jobs require knowledge and experience, traveling welders are bound to learn new skills along the way. Traveling welding jobs are an excellent way to sharpen skills and acquire valuable information that welders can utilize in future jobs.
Some traveling welders choose to work year-round, but many take extended time off to spend time with family and friends, enjoy their favorite activities, and avoid the burnout that can result from constant travel.
The perks of being a traveling welder are undeniable, but the job isn’t for everyone. Disadvantages include:
Shutdown welding jobs often don’t come with the benefits many permanent welding jobs offer. While traveling welders may receive overtime and bonuses, they typically don’t have the option for health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, etc.
Although the travel opportunities can certainly be a perk for some, spending weeks or months on the road at a time can be exhausting. Being away from family for extended periods of time is also an important consideration for individuals considering this career path.
Traveling welders may spend the vast majority of their time away from civilization. In addition to long hours, many industrial sites are in remote locations far away from urban areas, which can result in workers feeling isolated.
We understand that searching for shutdown jobs can be a tedious process, so we’ve created a fast, easy, and effective way to connect you with job opportunities. Simply fill out your free Surehand profile, and we’ll search for open positions on your behalf, notifying you when an available job meets your criteria and skillset. This is a great timesaver for traveling contractors who value their limited free time between jobs. Best of all, you can choose how much information to share with prospective employers.
Shutdown welding jobs are a great way to quickly build your resume, making you stand out among the crowd. We’d love to help you advance your welding career to the next level.
Stop searching. Let good NDT jobs find YOU.