Houston is the fourth largest city in the U.S. and growing quickly, expanding in population by close to 11% between 2010 and 2019. With prestigious higher education institutions, beloved sports teams and easy access to travel by air, land and sea, it’s easy to see why Houston is an attractive option for Texans and out-of-staters alike.
The cost of living here is low–far lower, in fact, than other major metro areas like New York and Los Angeles–and the weather is temperate all year long.
And perhaps most importantly (since you’re reading this article), it’s a great place to find a welding job.
Houston is the number one metropolitan area in the nation for the number of employed welders, home to nearly 19,000 welding professionals.
Six out of every 1,000 people here are employed in welding occupations, which is more than twice the national average.
If you’re interested in finding welding jobs in Houston, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll break down the average Houston welding salaries and take an industry-specific look at the most promising welding jobs to pursue in the biggest city in the Lone Star State.
The average welding salary in Houston ranges from $40,000 to $50,000, with different sources offering varying estimates for the exact figure within that range.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median hourly wage for all welders, cutters, solderers and brazers in Houston is $24.43, or $50,800 a year.
That’s close to 20% higher than the median wage for all welders in the United States, which, for reference, is $42,490.
Known as the “energy capital of the world,” Houston serves as a hub for nearly every sector of the energy industry, from traditional fuel sources like oil and gas to renewable energies like wind and solar power. It’s not just production that happens here; Houston is a hotbed for activity in energy transmission, marketing, and the creation of energy-adjacent technology, as well.
Out of 128 publicly traded oil and gas companies in the U.S., 44 are located in Houston. It’s home to more than 600 production and exploration firms, not to mention over 100 solar and several dozen wind energy operations.
Firms in Houston account for 13% of the country’s biofuel refining capacity, with pretty much every major name in the industry–BP, Chevron, Halliburton, ConocoPhillips, Exxon, Shell, and more–all having a major presence here.
The energy industry calls for welders at every level and of every skill set. Houston typically sees a steady stream of job openings for TIG welders, MIG welders, combination welders, welder helpers, fitters and field engineers, among other positions.
Even with the slowdown in the oil and gas industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the economy, there’s still plenty of work to take advantage of.
Houston has long been a pioneer in the aerospace field, perhaps most famously known for its role in the historic Apollo 11 mission in 1969. The city was home to mission control for the International Space Station for nearly 20 years and today serves as a hub for space exploration at the Johnson Space Center.
Houston boasts at least 350 companies involved in aircraft development, aerospace manufacturing, research, technology and aviation support activities, accounting for some $2.9 billion of trade in 2019.
In fact, aircraft, spacecraft and the parts for them are the city’s 11th biggest international trade commodity. Ten of the nation’s largest aerospace manufacturing firms have headquarters in the region.
Aerospace welders are some of the most skilled metalworkers in the world, responsible for high-precision welds that can withstand the immense pressure and extreme environmental conditions associated with being launched high into the atmosphere or outer space.
Welding engineers are also in high demand in this field to continuously push the boundaries of what’s possible in the field of welding, developing new techniques and discovering better, lighter and cheaper materials with which to build air and spacecraft.
Texas is home to tens of thousands of manufacturing firms, and one out of every three of them are located in Houston. The region’s 6,400 manufacturers produce more than $80 billion of products annually, making the city the number two metropolitan area in the country for manufacturing output.
Houston’s central location in both the United States and North America make it an ideal place to make and transport goods for companies like General Electric, JSW Steel and Toshiba.
Some of the best manufacturing opportunities for welders lie in the fabrication of metal products, electronics and machinery, which are especially prevalent in Houston. Emerging sectors like medical device and food and beverage manufacturing also hire welders.
With convenient access to transit by ground, air and sea, Houston has established itself as a major transportation and logistics hub. It’s equidistant from the east and west coasts, is bisected by a number of major highways, and is just a short jaunt by air to any other major metro area in the country.
The city’s 800 miles of rail lines and two international airports present the best transportation-related job opportunities for welders. On the rail side, welders are needed to build, maintain and repair the lines and machinery that keep freight and passenger trains running smoothly.
In the air travel field, welders help keep aircraft in working order and work in machine shops for companies like United Airlines, which has a major hub at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and Southwest, which has a base at Houston Hobby.
Houston offers well-paying opportunities in a diverse range of welding positions, but it’s not just the salaries themselves that are a compelling reason to job search in this city.
Texas doesn’t levy personal income tax, which means you’ll get to take home a greater chunk of every paycheck. Also, as we touched on earlier, the cost of living is lower when compared to other major U.S. cities. Housing, for example, is about 20% cheaper in Houston than the national average.
If you’re going after a high salary, here are some of the best Houston welding jobs to pursue.
Welders play a vital role in Houston’s oil and gas industry, with some of the best-paid welders working on the rigs that carry out drilling, fuel processing and storage.
Rig welders are essential in building and repairing the infrastructure necessary to extract and process oil using techniques like gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) and flux cored arc welding (FCAW).
They also work extensively on the pipelines that transport the fuel.
Rig welders may live and work permanently on the job site or may be transported in as needed to get the job done as quickly as possible. Houston rig welders make an average of $77,000 a year, with the highest earners bringing in $130,000 or more annually.
Pipe welders, as you might imagine, are also a prominent fixture in Houston’s oil and gas industry. But the job prospects aren’t limited to the energy field. Pipeline welders will also find jobs in commercial and residential construction, industrial and manufacturing environments.
Because pipe welders often work in remote locations, they’re also typically eligible for additional pay on top of their base rate. For example, many pipeline welding jobs pay a per diem ranging from $150 to $200 to cover daily expenses like meals.
One of the most lucrative welding careers you can pursue in Houston is that of welding engineer. The welding engineer develops the procedures that the entire welding team will follow, focusing on techniques, processes, materials and designs that will help the company make the final product as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
Welding inspectors play a particularly important role in the manufacturing industry; they’re responsible for ensuring that the welds in finished products meet all necessary quality standards and safety requirements.
Getting a job as a welding engineer typically requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in engineering as well as certification and state licensure, where required.
The average welding engineer in Houston earns $110,340 a year, with the top 10% of earners bringing in $150,000 plus.
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