From the charming, music-filled streets of downtown to the Great Smoky Mountains just a stone’s throw away, Knoxville, Tennessee offers a unique blend of city living and Southern charm.
The rich arts and culture scene delivers a regular calendar of festivals, performances and shows, while two national forests, nine state parks and a thousand miles of waterways make the area an outdoor lover’s paradise.
Home to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is a young city, with 18- to 35-year olds making up the largest segment of the population. A low cost of living and no personal income tax make it an attractive market for job seekers, including welders.
So how much can you make at welding jobs in Knoxville and what are the best industries to work in? We’ll share this information along with some tips on where to start your job search.
The average wage for welders in Knoxville, Tennessee is $20.39 an hour, or about $42,400 a year. The top 10% of welders here earn $50,000 a year or more. The city has a location quotient of 1.5 for welders, meaning it has slightly more welding jobs per thousand residents than the rest of the country on average.
Welding salaries in Knoxville are influenced by a number of factors, including level of experience, certifications and industry. The welding field in general is one where the more you know, the more you earn, and this is true regardless of where you live.
So, putting in time and building up a more advanced resume of welding skills will open doors to higher paying jobs.
The economy in Knoxville is highly diversified, which means it doesn’t depend on just one or a handful of industries to employ the majority of workers. This is a good thing because it helps shield the community from dramatic swings, like if one major employer were to close its doors.
Projected job growth over the next ten years in Knoxville is 37.5%, which is above the national average of 33.5%. The area’s trade, technology and manufacturing sectors in particular have seen noteworthy growth in recent years, and all of these are great avenues to find welding jobs.
Another factor making welding a dependable career choice in Knoxville is the cost of living–it’s considerably lower than the national average. Housing is the biggest factor in Knoxville’s affordable lifestyle, with a median home price of $173,000 compared to $231,000 overall in the U.S. Transportation, grocery and utility expenses are all also lower than the national average.
Knoxville has been named to a number of ‘best places’ lists that indicate people enjoy living here. In 2013, the city was named number two on the list of Happiest Cities to Work in Right Now by CareerBliss.com and was among the top 50 Best Places for Business and Careers as reported by Forbes.
Just this year, it was named on Livability’s list of the 100 Best Places to Live in the U.S. The outlet cited its natural beauty, big-city amenities, low unemployment rate and vibrant downtown scene as driving factors for its desirability.
The energy sector is a strong employer for welders in Knoxville. Unlike other parts of the country, however, the bulk of the jobs aren’t in pipelines or drilling, but in research and development.
The U.S. The Department of Energy is the biggest employer in the city, providing jobs for some 13,000 people at its Oak Ridge Operations office.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is the largest national science and energy national laboratory in the Department of Energy system. It conducts basic and applied research to find solutions to the country’s problems in energy and security.
Welders at ORNL fabricate, install and repair products that are used in the lab’s research operations or maintenance of the facility.
Also calling Knoxville home is the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). EPRI conducts research and development in electricity generation, delivery, and use with the goal of making electric power greener, safer, more reliable, and more affordable.
While the bulk of Knoxville’s energy sector focuses on technology, it’s not without its share of energy development activity.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is currently considering a project that would add about six miles of new transmission line to serve a growing area of customers. The new line would be built primarily with steel, which would no doubt require a team of welders to construct and maintain.
For a city of its size–about 190,000 people–Knoxville has a major manufacturing presence. There are more than 100 small- to medium-sized manufacturers located in the area, fabricating everything from electronics and machinery to food and beverage products.
One noteworthy manufacturing employer is Y-12, which employs more than 4,300 people producing components and technologies used in national defense weapons. They also safely dismantle and store components of retired weapons and nuclear materials.
Y-12 hires welders and welding inspectors who can ensure its important projects are completed to the exacting specifications required for a partner of the U.S. military.
Another major manufacturing employer in DENSO, an automotive manufacturer that researches, develops and produces parts for clients around the world. The Fortune 500 company has been around since 1949 and employs more than 4,000 people in Knoxville.
Other big manufacturing employers in Knoxville include Boeing Defense & Space, which makes missile and defense systems, Aluminum Company of America, which extracts and produces aluminum, and CMH Manufacturing, which produces manufactured homes.
Good welding jobs in Knoxville aren’t limited to for-profit operations; many can be found within the public sector. The City of Knoxville, Knox County and the University of Tennessee, all of which are among the top ten employers in the area, hire welders to work on various infrastructure projects and other public initiatives.
Some of the best welding jobs in Knoxville can be found with the hundreds of small businesses that call the area home. Indeed, for example, lists more than a dozen Knoxville welding positions offered through employment agencies, which can be a good source of temporary and contract work.
Construction companies, boatbuilders and even the Knoxville Zoo were among other employers looking to hire qualified welders.
A welding engineer oversees an organization’s welding staff, creating the specifications and processes they’ll use to do their jobs. Welding engineers generate welding procedures and create the proper documentation to ensure those procedures are carried out effectively.
In the event of welding-related issues, they conduct failure analyses to understand the problem and come up with the appropriate corrective measures.
The average salary for welding engineers in Knoxville, TN is $73,000 a year, with the highest 10% in the field earning $87,000 or more.
Whereas welding engineers develop the specifications for welding jobs, welding inspectors make sure those specifications are reflected in the finished product. They examine manufactured components, buildings, bridges, elevators, vehicles and more to assess the quality and strength of the welds used to produce them.
Welding inspectors also inspect welding equipment and materials used on a project and ensure the welding staff is adhering to all company and state safety regulations.
The average welding inspector in Knoxville earns $54,600 a year, with the highest earners in the profession making $100,000 or more.
Union welders, as their name suggests, are part of a labor union. Union welders work on union job sites, which frequently include construction, shipbuilding, pipeline and manufacturing projects.
Union workers are entitled to great benefits, including health insurance, pensions, overtime pay, family and medical leave, and strong job security.
Union welders in Knoxville belong to Ironworkers 384, the local chapter of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers. Welders who are part of this union earn a base hourly rate of $27.77 an hour, or about $55,000 a year.
We typically think of welders in terms of their work building and creating things, but they also play a critical role when things go wrong.
A shutdown welder steps in in the event that a pipeline or facility goes offline — these can be scheduled shutdowns for maintenance or due to an issue, taking quick measures to repair the problem and get the facility back online.
They work in or on pipelines, power plants, chemical plants, industrial or water facilities, and refineries.
Job listings for shutdown welders in Knoxville advertise hourly rates up to $24 an hour, which amounts to about $46,800 a year.
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