Stunning natural landscapes, an affordable cost of living and many family-friendly towns make Michigan an attractive place to live. Pair those factors with thriving industries like aerospace, defense, automotive and manufacturing and you’ve got a highly desirable market–and a matching need–for skilled workers.
Michigan residents have their pick of big city living or small town charm, all set against the backdrop of the beautiful Great Lakes. With four true seasons, plenty of year-round activities and a moderate average home price, the Great Lakes State is an option worth considering if you’re looking to start or grow your career as a welder.
Read on to learn more about the best welding jobs in Michigan and how to get them.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average wage for a welder in Michigan is $41,000 a year. Welders on the lowest end of the earning curve make below $34,000 a year, while the top 10% bring in $53,000 a year or more.
When looking at welding salaries in Michigan, it’s important to consider how they stack up against how much you’ll spend to live there. On average, Michigan has a notably cheaper cost of living than the average for all states in the U.S., meaning every dollar earned will stretch a bit farther here.
Housing is the biggest factor contributing to the state’s affordability. The average home price in the U.S. is around $231,000, but in Michigan that number is just $151,00–a 35% difference. U.S. News & World Report ranks Michigan among the top five states in the country for cost of living.
Michigan has a global reputation as the hub of the American auto industry. Despite major setbacks for the city of Detroit with the 2009 bankruptcies of Chrysler and GM, Michigan still produces more automobiles than any other state, accounting for 20% of all U.S. output.
In recent years, the focus of Michigan’s auto industry has shifted heavily to research and development and autonomous vehicles. 76% of automotive R&D in North America happens here, accounting for $10 billion in annual spending.
Since cars are largely made of metal and welding is the primary method for joining metal parts, welders are in high demand in the automotive industry.
They’re needed to join structural components and engine parts using techniques like resistance spot welding (RSW), metal inert gas (MIG) welding, tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding and laser welding.
Increasingly advanced welding techniques are partly to thank for the vehicles we drive becoming lighter and more fuel efficient.
Additionally, the auto industry’s use of welding robots has grown dramatically in recent years, and skilled welders are needed to oversee the robots and tackle specialized, hands-on welding needs.
Michigan may be known as a pioneer in automotive transportation, but in recent years the state’s sights have been increasingly set on the skies. The state is home to more than 600 aerospace-related companies, from part manufacturing to research and development.
For every 1,000 workers in Michigan, seven of them are engineers in the aerospace field (four times the national average).
This highly technical field relies on welders to manufacture and repair airplanes, fighter jets, helicopters and spacecraft. Welders in the aerospace field often deal with delicate metals and parts that must be able to withstand large amounts of force, so precision is key.
Welding techniques frequently used in the aerospace field include TIG welding, shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), and gas metal arc welding (GMAW). Spot and seam welding are used to join sheet metals, while plasma arc welding (PAW) may be used for miniature applications.
Michigan’s manufacturers account for a huge portion of the state’s jobs, employing 14% of the total workforce and contributing $102 billion in output 2018. Manufacturing here is diverse and robust, with sectors ranging from the traditional, like food and beverage, plastic, rubber and metal parts, to the innovative, like medical devices and carbon fiber.
The average compensation for manufacturing jobs in Michigan was $79,000 as of 2017.
Manufacturing is the largest employer of welders nationwide, accounting for six out of every ten welding jobs. It should come as no surprise, then, that welding is at the heart of most manufacturing operations.
Welders are responsible for joining the materials, both metal and non-metal, that make up the different parts of products we use every day. The quality of the weld has a huge impact in the quality of the resulting product.
You can find nearly any welding technique being used in manufacturing in some way, but some of the most common methods in this field are SMAW, GMAW, gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), flux cored arc welding (FCAW) and submerged arc welding (SAW).
ROBOTIC WELDING TECHNICIAN
Robotic welding has been rapidly expanding in recent years and is expected to do so for the foreseeable future. The global robotic welding market is projected to reach nearly $6 billion by 2023, which represents a compound annual growth rate of close to 9%.
The growth is fueled in large part by an increased demand for automation and a greater need for scalability in modern manufacturing operations.
A robotic welding technician handles the setup, maintenance and operation of robotic welding equipment. Some may design the robot, while others monitor and troubleshoot the robot during production.
Though some robotic welding technicians may not do much actual welding themselves, the nature of the job still requires a thorough knowledge of basic welding principles, so a certificate in welding from the American Welding Society or a degree in a related discipline is recommended.
The average robotics technician in Michigan earns $58,000 a year, with the top 10% earning over $77,000.
ROBOTIC WELDING PROGRAMMER
A robotic welding programmer is responsible for programming welding robots to do their work faster, more efficiently, more cheaply and with fewer errors. Basically, they’re tasked with making sure welding robots achieve maximum return on investment, or ROI, for the company.
Meanwhile, they must ensure a consistent output and quality level regardless of batch size or part complexity.
To be a robotic welding programmer, you’ll need a thorough knowledge of established weld procedures as well as an understanding of the specific robotic technology used by your firm, including robotic control software. Training in the latter area is often provided by an employer or the robotic equipment manufacturer itself.
In Detroit, which is Michigan’s largest city, the average robotic welding programmer earns $72,000 a year. The highest earners in the field may take home upwards of six figures.
Working from an extensive knowledge of physics, engineering, metallic materials properties and welding codes, welding engineers design the standards that welders follow when doing their jobs. They plan, supervise and examine welding operations to ensure quality, efficiency, and compliance with all necessary standards.
A welding engineer plays a critical role in the integrity of welded products and structures, and thus, becoming one requires a high level of education and credentialing. To get a job as a welding engineer, you’ll typically need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree as well as to pass a rigorous certification exam.
A welding engineer in Michigan earns an average of $78,000 a year. With several years of experience, it’s not uncommon for professionals in the field to earn upwards of $100,000.
If you’ve built a resume of on-the-job welding experience, particularly if it’s in a niche area, you can earn a highly lucrative living as a welding professor. Welding professors work at a college or university educating students on welding principles and techniques.
While you may be able to get a well-paying job as a welding instructor teaching welding basics at a trade school or community college, the real money lies in faculty roles at large universities.
Welding professors at the University of Michigan, for example, earn between $150,000 and $250,000 a year working in the school’s intelligent manufacturing and mechanical engineering departments.
To become a professor, most schools require at least a master’s degree, and you’ll need to work your way up the ranks of the education hierarchy starting with roles like associate professor first.
As you can see, there’s a diverse and exciting array of available welding jobs in Michigan, many of which will allow you to comfortably support your family and then some. Instead of searching for a Michigan welding job, let the right job come to YOU with help from Surehand.
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