With a rich cultural history and a diverse natural landscape, the ‘Beehive State’ is home to some three million Americans. It’s also home to a dynamic economy spearheaded by the energy, aerospace and manufacturing industries.
If you’re looking for a job as a welder, Utah is a promising location on which to set your sights. Here, we’ll share how much you can expect to earn from welding jobs in Utah and point you in the direction of some of the top industries that employ welders in the state.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly pay for welders in Utah is just under $22. On an annual basis, the average professional in the welding field earns just upwards of $45,000 here.
Welders on the low end of the spectrum, like those who are just starting out in their careers, begin making around $28,000 a year, while those in the top 20% of earners take home $70,000 a year or more. Compared to the other 49 states, Utah sits squarely in the middle when it comes to how its welding salaries stack up.
If you’re looking for a field where you can earn a healthy living without a four-year degree, welding is definitely a strong contender; the longer you work in the field and the more advanced credentials you obtain, the stronger your earning potential.
Utah is a national leader in renewable energy, allocating significant investments to geothermal, wind and solar power initiatives.
Welders play an important role in such efforts, creating the components for the massive turbine blades that power wind farms, building the infrastructure for biodiesel plants, and making the high-precision micro-welds that are required to craft solar panels.
Utah ranks 11th among all states in solar generating capacity, generating more energy than it consumes and producing enough to supply energy to the surrounding states. In late 2019, 20 communities in the state, including Salt Lake City, committed to achieving 100% renewable energy use by 2030. This means skilled workers in this sector will likely be in high demand for the next decade.
Mining has played a big role in Utah’s economy for more than a century and still persists as a strong part of it today. Utah is the third largest metal producing state in the U.S., with mines for gold, silver, zinc, lead and other minerals, along with fossil fuel mines for coal and petroleum.
Welders are needed not only to tackle welding jobs at the mine site itself, but to build, maintain and repair the heavy machinery required by the industry. Tools like dragline excavators, blast hole drill rigs, and crushers play a core part in mining operations and also require the utmost structural integrity.
Thus, welders have a critical role in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of the state’s mining operations.
Known as the ‘Crossroads of the West,’ Utah has long been a central hub for ground, rail and air travel. All those miles of roadway and rail lines require careful upkeep, inspection and repair; according to the state’s department of transportation, the industry was expected to provide some 40,000 new jobs in 2016 alone.
Utah has also recently passed a gas tax to fund transportation improvements in the state, which should provide stable jobs for many years to come.
Welders have their pick of jobs in Utah’s transportation sector. The state’s seven major long-distance highway freight routes necessitate maintenance of major transit infrastructure like bridges and tunnels, while the thousands of miles of rail lines require rigorous round-the-clock upkeep by field welding technicians.
In a Forbes list of nearly 400 metropolitan cities where manufacturing is thriving, Salt Lake City was ranked number 15. The city has seen a 7.2% increase in manufacturing jobs over the last five years, more than double the growth of years prior. Statewide, manufacturing is a $20 billion a year industry.
Welding jobs in Utah’s manufacturing field are numerous and diversified. Production welders are needed to fabricate the various components that go into manufactured products.
Welding engineers help companies produce their products in the most efficient and cost-effective way, while welding inspectors carefully check to make sure those products meet the required codes and standards.
Home to industry powerhouses like Boeing, Northtrop Grumman and L3Harris, Utah is one of the top states in the nation for aerospace and defense employment. The industry provides jobs for some 30,000 people.
Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welders are in particular demand in this field, as this method is ideal for creating the complicated joints required in aircraft components. Contract welding gigs are common in the industry as well, both for civilian and military organizations.
If you’re looking for a specialty that comes with a high earning potential, becoming a pipeline welder might be the right move for you. In 2015, the average salary for workers in Utah’s pipeline industry was a whopping $106,704.
Utah is home to more than a dozen pipeline operators that maintain the infrastructure to transport crude oil, natural gas and refined petroleum products across the western United States.
Pipeline welders build and repair these important lines, often working in remote locations and under potentially hazardous conditions, which contributes to the lucrative pay.
Once you’ve mastered basic welding techniques and gathered a few years of experience, you might be ready to move on to a role with more administrative oversight. A welding engineer combines practical welding skills with technical and administrative duties to plan and oversee an organization’s welding projects.
To become a welding engineer, you can earn certifications like the AWS Certified Welding Engineer certification with a combination of formal education, on the job experience, and the relevant exam.
In Utah’s aerospace industry, for example, a welding engineer might work alongside a welding team to generate the proper welding procedures to be used on an aircraft and identify opportunities to make the operation leaner or faster without a loss of quality.
The top 10% of welding engineers in Utah bring in $80,000 to $100,000 a year or more.
Welding inspectors use various techniques to assess the quality and strength of a welder’s work, ensuring that the resulting welds are safe and ready to function as designed as part of the overall structure. Welding inspectors can find work in any field where welding is conducted, with some of the major employers being the energy, manufacturing and engineering sectors.
Nondestructive testing (NDT) is another viable job opportunity for industrial jobs in Utah for those who want to expand their skill set beyond the welding industry. NDT involves a specific category of tests to evaluate the properties of a material or component that does not change or alter the material being tested.
Penetrant testing (PT) and magnetic-particle testing (MT) are two potential NDT methods one can specialize in, with the former earning approximately $107,000 a year in Utah and the latter earning an average of almost $49,000 a year.
Aside from being an accessible field with strong salary prospects and endless learning opportunities, there are other alluring reasons to consider living in Utah as a welder.
It ranks 28th in the nation for cost of living, which means a dollar spent in Utah goes about 3% further than it does for the nation as a whole. Groceries, utilities, transportation and miscellaneous expenses are all cheaper here than they are on average in the U.S. overall.
While housing prices are more expensive than the rest of the nation on average, this is driven largely by the high concentration of residents in the Salt Lake City metro area, which is home to nearly half of the state’s population. Housing is more affordable in Utah’s smaller cities, like St. George or Provo, and considerably cheaper in more rural areas.
For fans of outdoor recreation, it’s hard to think of a more ideal place to live in the United States than Utah.
There’s boating, swimming and water sports in the Great Salt Lake. You’ll find endless opportunities for hiking, backpacking and camping in the state’s “mighty five’ national parks. Cyclists and mountain bikers will enjoy more than a thousand miles of mapped trails in the state. And, despite the characteristic desert landscape, there’s even skiing and snowboarding at the 15 mountain resorts statewide.
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