‘America needs more welders and fewer philosophers,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio proclaimed during the 2016 presidential campaign.
He hit the nail on the head without disrespecting philosophers.
Industry News reported that in 1988, there were 570,000 welders compared to the 360,000 in 2012. Considering that the manufacturing and construction sectors have boomed in recent years, the growing shortage of welders is troublesome. Even worse, the American Welding Society estimates a 290,000-job deficit by 2020.
This shortage is primarily due to the large number of welders reaching retirement age and fewer young men and women signing up for welding classes.
It is not a matter of pay. A welder with basic skills can start at approximately $40,000 a year with good benefits. Those who complete further training and gather job-site experience can earn in excess of $100,000 annually. Welders with special skills working on pipelines, with exotic metals, and on underwater projects command even greater wages.
There is another financial advantage. Welding students generally don’t face the crushing financial debt from student loans. The average university undergraduate borrower owes $30,100, according to The Institute of College Access and Success. That means they’ll be paying about $300 a month over 10 years.