High-paying, in-demand welding careers await VU students

High-paying, in-demand welding careers await VU students

VU student in welding class.

June 21, 2021

VINCENNES, Ind. – A career in welding can lead to jobs building race cars, making aircraft and ships, or working on an oil rig in the ocean. There is high demand for skilled welders, who earn high wages in a variety of industries and fields.

The American Welding Society estimates the shortage of skilled welders could be higher than 450,000 professionals by 2022. Retiring baby boomers have impacted the number of available jobs and advanced technology is making modern welding a more high-tech skill.

Vincennes University is filling the gap and training a much-needed skilled workforce for the state of Indiana and the nation through its Welding Technology program. VU’s associate degree program is designed to prepare students to become welders in the field in addition to managers, foremen, welding inspectors, and engineers.

According to Lincoln Electric Technical Sales Representative Nathaniel Tsai, "We tell students the demand for welders is so high that you can find a job anywhere you go. Whether it’s a tractor-trailer facility, an automotive facility, or a construction steel facility. Anywhere you go, you have a skill set that you have learned whether it is at Vincennes University or Lincoln Electric that can be applied and is in desperate need right now, and makes you an attractive prospect for companies."

A shortage of workers is pushing wages higher and leading to sign-on bonuses in skilled trades like welding. Since welders are in huge demand and are in short supply, they have the freedom to choose who to work for and where to work.

"We have employers and labor unions come in, and they all need all of our students,” VU Welding Technology Department Chair Tom Noel said. "They’re not down one position. They're down 30 or 40 positions. The demand is higher than it has been in probably 20 years. They need trained, skilled, start today welders.”

The median annual wage for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers was $44,190 in May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest 10 percent earned more than $66,250. Multiple welding jobs exist that pay six figures.

VU’s welding program has a graduate placement rate of around 96 to 97 percent yearly. Graduates typically earn a starting wage between $20 and $25 per hour.

"VU’s Welding Technology program is an excellent program,” Bedford North Lawrence High School Welding Instructor David McCart said. "The instructors are very good at what they do. They are very personable and know the welding industry inside and out. The students that I’ve had go through VU have gone on and had success in the welding industry.”

Indiana Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch (center) interacts with VU welding technology students and faculty during a Vincennes Campus visit in February 2020. Standing to the left of Crouch is Welding Technology Program Chair Tom Noel.

Indiana Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch (center) interacts with VU welding technology students and faculty during a Vincennes Campus visit in February 2020. Standing to the left of Crouch is Welding Technology Program Chair Tom Noel.

VU hosted the annual Lincoln Electric Summer Workshop earlier this month. Career opportunities, advanced processes, hands-on training, robotics, and other welding-related topics were explored by high school educators to help them better prepare their students for the workforce.

Like many industries, technology is leading to fast-growing changes in the welding industry. Manual welders are in demand. However, there is also a need for individuals who have the knowledge and skills to program welding robots.

A skilled manual welder who can program and operate automated welding systems and advanced manufacturing technology increases marketability in students. 

Tsai demonstrated a state-of-the-art welding robot arm designed for classroom use during the workshop on the Vincennes Campus. He emphasizes that robots enhance the way we work.

VU student using a welding robotic arm.

Lincoln Electric Technical Sales Representative Nathaniel Tsai demonstrates a welding robot on the Vincennes Campus earlier this month.

"A robot cannot run without someone telling it what to do,” Tsai said. “It used to be the phrase, “Automation is the future.” That is no longer true. Automation is the current, present time. It has been going on for decades and decades, and it keeps advancing every year. Every year there’s a new piece of technology or changes that are made. Automation is almost in every industry market. It is used for repetitive and meticulous jobs.”

Tsai added, “Welders have an accomplished skill and take pride in their work, doing something they enjoy. By adding a robot in a welding station, the skilled welder who learned the trade from a school like Vincennes University, can hone in on their craft and create future advancements and opportunities.”

A welding career can result in financial and job security, career advancement, and valuable and rewarding work throughout the world. Click here for more information about VU’s Welding Technology program. Apply to VU.