Texas is the second-largest state in the nation, ranking only behind Alaska in terms of size. It’s also number two in economic output, generating close to 9% of the nation’s overall gross domestic product–only California has a higher output.
From bustling metropolitan areas like Houston and San Antonio to the far-flung rural towns of Big Bend country, Texas has a diverse geographical landscape and an equally varied economy that makes it a hotbed for welding activity.
Read on to learn more about the best opportunities for welders in Texas and how much you can expect to make in welding jobs in the Lone Star State.
Texas is a huge hub for innovations in air and space travel. It’s home to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, NASA’s central location for human spaceflight training and research, as well as Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, which is the fourth-largest airport in the world.
Seventeen of the 20 largest aerospace manufacturers in the world, including household names like SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Bell Helicopter, and Airbus, have a presence in Texas.
All this aerospace activity has created strong demand for skilled welders who assemble fighter planes and helicopters, aid in the development of navigational instruments, and repair and maintain commercial aircraft.
The U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy maintain a major presence in Texas. It’s home to the Army’s Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, seven Air Force bases and three Naval air stations.
The world’s largest helicopter repair and maintenance facility is located at Corpus Christi’s Army Depot. Texas ranks behind only California for the number of active duty and reserve service members who live there.
Welders play a major role in the fabrication, maintenance and repair of our nation’s defense armaments, working on everything from light equipment to tanks and ships. Military welders also work in a construction capacity, building bridges, laying out infrastructure and constructing outposts.
When you think of oil, you probably think of Texas, and for good reason. In 2019, the state accounted for 41% of the country’s crude oil production, processing close to six million barrels of crude oil per day–that’s 31% of the nation’s total refining capacity.
Most of the world’s largest oil and gas firms, including the likes of Halliburton, Exxon Mobil and Valero, have headquarters here. In fact, 13 of the state’s 20 largest public employers are in the oil and gas industry.
The nearly half-a-million miles of pipeline in the state are a huge provider of welding jobs, with welders needed to assemble, inspect, and repair the infrastructure that powers the largest petroleum operations in the country.
Texas’ manufacturing industry employs some 870,000 people, or about 7% of all nonfarm workers in the state. Chemical manufacturing is the leading sector, supported by the state’s robust petroleum industry.
Petroleum and coal products as well as computer components and electronics also make up a sizable chunk of the Texas manufacturing portfolio. These sectors support some of the highest wages in the state; the average salary for petroleum and coal manufacturing workers, for example, tops $130,000 annually.
In the manufacturing industry, welders are involved at nearly every phase of production: including:
If you’re a welder looking for work in Texas, there’s good news: you’ll have your pick of cities to find ample job prospects.
If you prefer a major metro area, Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth are all strong contenders; RSI.edu ranks these three Texas hotspots among the top ten places in the nation to get a welding job. Houston alone is home to an estimated 18,000 welders. San Antonio and Austin also have strong job outlooks for welders.
If a small town or suburb is more your speed, check out Baytown, Midland, Corpus Christi or Odessa. According to salary reports from Indeed, welders in these towns earn even more per hour on average than they do in Houston.
The average base pay for all welders in Texas is around $18 an hour, or about $37,500 a year. It’s not uncommon, however, to find welders here making many times this amount. The difference comes down to your certifications and the industry in which you work. Here are a few of the most promising options.
You’ll bump up your salary prospects by about 35% if you become a certified welding inspector. This highly regarded credential qualifies you to handle the full scope of examinations required to determine the integrity of a weld.
In addition to inspecting completed welds, you’ll handle qualification records, oversee nondestructive testing, and keep an eye on the entire welding process to be sure processes are being carried out correctly. At higher levels, they’re also responsible for writing or approving weld procedures.
Certified welding inspectors in Houston earn an average of $63,000 per year, with the top 10% bringing in upwards of $85,000.
One of the most in-demand welding skills among Texas employers is robotic programming. Welding robots are increasingly used to handle spot welding and arc welding in high-production environments like on a manufacturing assembly line.
A robotic programmer ensures the performance of the hardware and software needed to complete robotic welds smoothly and efficiently, altering the programming as needed to accommodate new parts and process modifications. Robots are being used more and more for long seam weld inspection and other applications.
According to Indeed, candidates with this skill earn about 10% more than the average welding candidate.
Level II NDT Technician
Nondestructive testing (NDT) is the process of evaluating the integrity of a product, component or system without causing damage to it.
In the welding world, NDT technicians use a series of techniques to examine welds for defects in such a way that does not require disassembling or destroying the overall item or structure (i.e. examining the condition of welds on the girders or cross beams of a bridge deck without having to shut down the bridge to traffic for a long period of time).
NDT level II technicians in particular are in high demand in Texas. This certification qualifies you to set up and calibrate NDT equipment, perform nondestructive tests, interpret and evaluate testing results in accordance with the relevant codes, and train level I technicians.
The high level of skill required for aerospace welding jobs makes this field one of the most lucrative for competent welders. You’ll need to work your way up, gaining experience and building your proficiency in increasingly delicate and specialized types of welds.
SpaceX, which operates a private rocket production, testing and launch site in South Texas’ Boca Chica, is one of the top aerospace companies for welders, paying an average of $78,000 per year.
As we mentioned earlier, thousands of Texas welders find work on the state’s vast network of oil pipelines, and they’re paid handsomely for the hard work.
Pipe welders here earn an average salary of $62,000 a year, with the opportunity to increase your earnings to six figures through a combination of experience, overtime and contract jobs.
You’ll also find lucrative welding jobs in the energy industry’s various offshoots. McDermott, an energy engineering and construction firm, for example, pays welders an average of $78,000 a year.
The construction industry is one of the largest and fastest-growing in the state, employing nearly 800,000 people or 5% of the total Texas workforce. Welders are in demand to help fabricate the structures of multi-family housing units and commercial developments, both of which are seeing a recent surge in activity.
San-Antonio-based Zachry Construction Corporation, which specializes in transportation and civil construction, boasts some of the highest-paid construction welding positions at an average of $36 an hour, or roughly $75,000 a year.
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