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Welding Information (Including a Brief History of Welding)

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Getting into welding is a smart move for your career and earning prospects.

Welding is simply the process of sticking one piece of material to another, so what could possibly be interesting about the welding industry? You may be surprised to learn that welding is fascinating, with so many opportunities you never knew existed.

We unravel welding facts and statistics to bring you fun, bizarre, and crazy welding information.

Welding Facts Summary

Welding employs 592,000 individuals in the US alone. Surprisingly, it is not a diverse field, with women making up just 5.3 percent. The vast majority (68.1 percent) are white males, with Hispanics and African Americans making up just 15.8 and 9.7 percent respectively. The average age of a welder is 40, and you don’t need a college education to enter the industry.


15 Key Welding Facts and Statistics

Here’s an at-a-glance rundown of our top 15 welding facts:

  1. Welding has been practiced for thousands of years.
  2. The first welding manual was published in 1540 by Italian Vannoccio Biringuccio.
  3. Edmund Davy invented acetylene, which is welding using a flame.
  4. The first industrial robots were developed in 1961 and used for welding in the automotive industry.
  5. Fifty percent of all human-made products involve some form of welding.
  6. The global welding services market (welders doing the job) is projected to be worth $28.66 billion by 2028.
  7. The welding products market (welding machines and sundries) is worth $30.5 billion and is projected to grow to $37.2 billion by 2025.
  8. The top three industries that support welding are automotive, aerospace, and construction.
  9. The welding industry employs 592,000 people in the US alone.
  10. There is predicted to be a 400,000-deficit in welders by 2024.
  11. Alaska pays the highest hourly rate at $43.50.
  12. India is fast becoming the epicenter of global welding.
  13. Welders are always in demand, making it easy to earn money on the side.
  14. Welding is dirty and physical work.
  15. Welding is also dangerous, with over 4,000 welding-related injuries annually in the US.

Welding Facts and History

Welder welding metal in workshop with sparks

What do you know about the origins of welding? Not much, we bet? Let’s peel back the layers of time to reveal the potted history of an industry that has become so important. Without welding, we wouldn’t have bridges, skyscrapers, or even space flight.

1. It’s Older Than You Think

Welding is believed to have started around 4,000 BC in ancient Egypt. The first metal to be welded was copper, but the techniques developed to include other metals. Tin was discovered in 3,500 BC, and bronze was first welded in 2,000 BC.

The ancient Egyptians also developed the first pressure welding techniques by heating iron ore into sponge iron. The Sumerians produced swords in 3,000 BC using soldering techniques.

2. The Romans and the Middle-Ages

Fast forward to 60 AD, and we see the first evidence of gold brazing. Roman author Pliny recorded that salt was used as flux and the color of the gold changed based on the difficulty of the process.

We have to fast forward a couple of hundred years to see the first examples of iron pillars used in building construction in India. By 400 AD, the Romans, Scandinavians, and English built structures with welded iron.

3. It’s a Bestseller

In 1540, the first welding manual was produced by Italian metallurgist Vannoccio Biringuccio detailing forging techniques. It was entitled “De la Pirotechnia,” and it helped Renaissance welders master the process, cementing the future of welding.

4. The 19th Century

Things propelled rapidly as the 19th century dawned. The discovery of acetylene (open flame welding) heralded a leap forward and enabled the manufacturing of more intricate tools and equipment from all types of metals.

Sir Humphrey Davy discovered he could create an arc using carbon electrodes and batteries. Two years later, Russian Vasily Petrov made a stable electric arc to enable welders to melt metals safely.

Sir Humphrey’s cousin, Edmund Davy, invented acetylene, the technique of welding using a flame. The 19th century is regarded as the birthplace of modern welding processes.

5. Robot Welders

It sounds like something from the future, but the first industrial robots were developed for welding in 1961. Creator George Devol called it the Unimate, which could be programmed to repeat specific movements at high precision.

It was put to work in the automotive manufacturing and armaments industry.

6. Welders In Space

No, it’s not the name of some low-budget B-movie about welders flying through space. The first ever space welding occurred in 1969 during the Russian/U.S. Soyuz-Apollo Space mission. Space welding was first used by Alexei A. Leonov to construct an antenna in space to test the compatibility of each country’s equipment.

7. It’s Electric!

Without welding, electricity would still be in its infancy. Before welding, no one knew how to create electricity using magnetism and electrical currents. Scientists studied welding closely and worked out how to produce this energy source.

So, without electricity, there would be no modern welding, but without welding, there would be no modern electricity. It’s a win, win!

8. Go Nuclear

The inventor of the first nuclear bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, was a welding scientist before he invented such terrible weapons of mass destruction. From swords to armor, welding has helped humankind create new weapons, but none are as terrifying as the nuclear bomb.

Welding Industry Statistics

Three-dimensional graph and charts

Without welding, civilization as we know it would not exist. Welding is everywhere, from space travel, to roads, bridges, and buildings. There would be no cars because we wouldn’t have invented the wheel, and we would still be using rocks as tools.

Let’s take a look at the welding industry and shine a light on several exciting stats.

9. Welding Is Everywhere

Welding accounts for 50 percent of every human-made product on the planet. From space, the oceans, construction, cars, infrastructure, and homes, the list is endless.

10. How Much?

The global welding services market was worth $20.32 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow to $28.66 billion by 2028. This growth is driven mainly by the car industry and rapid urbanization, increasing the demand for more vehicles (1).

11. Growth, Growth, Growth

The welding-related product market is worth $34.1 billion and is expected to grow to $37.2 billion by 2025. That’s a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.1 percent!

The welding industry is a vast market, and our appetite for welded products shows no signs of cooling down. Most of this growth is in Asia, where development is rapidly increasing (2).

12. Top Three Industries

The top three industries supporting and employing welders are:

  • Automotive.
  • Construction.
  • Aerospace.

The construction industry has a shortage of welders, as do the automotive and aerospace industries, so welders have never been in so much demand.

13. Wired

The market for welding wires is worth thousands of millions of dollars. The market is expected to grow between 2018 and 2026 by 5.4 percent. That’s $14,637 million (3)!

14. How Many?

The industry employs more than 500,000 welders in the US alone, and 68.1 percent are white males. Hispanic comprise the next biggest group, with 15.8 percent, while 9.7 percent are African American.

Women make up just 5.8 percent of all welders. Welding in the US is one of the most sought-after occupations, yet it struggles with diversity (4).

15. Big Spender

We’ve talked about the construction industry being one of the big three welding industries, and it’s time to reveal how much they spend on welding.

According to the US Census Bureau, the US construction industry spent 968.7 billion dollars in 2019. And that was just the first nine months!

16. Developing Industry

Right now, India is the hotbed of welding. The Indian government has launched a “Make In India” campaign to attract automotive manufacturers and other big industries. The aim is to increase investment and development of commercial plants within the country.

It seems to be working because KIA Motors, Hyundai, and several other major manufacturers have invested billions in building new factories.

Facts About Welding Careers

smiling female welder posing confidently while working

Are you contemplating a career in welding and want to know some facts and data? If so, read on.

17. Who Needs University?

Don’t waste your time paying for a college or university education if you want to be a welder. You don’t need fancy degrees that cost thousands. You need accreditation, training (about 10 months), and registration to prove you are qualified.

So, ditch the university prospectus and start looking at welding courses instead.

18. Where Have All the Welders Gone?

According to The American Welding Society, there will be a deficit of 400,000 welders by 2024. The pandemic and educators persuading their students to follow a more academic route are some of the reasons for the shortfall (5).

However, the news is not all bad. The welding industry is expected to have a three to four percent increase in welders due to high demand across several industries.

19. Good Paycheck?

Depending on experience and skill, a talented welder should make $35 to $40 an hour. That’s an increase on the previous hourly rate of $20. The average welder should earn between $40,000 and $80,000 a year.

This figure could triple for niche industries like aerospace and underwater construction. So, you don’t need a college or university degree; you can become a qualified welder in 10 months and earn as much as a doctor. Where do we sign up?

20. Like to Travel?

You need to travel to find work if you are a self-employed welder. As your reputation grows and you work with more people, they will seek you out. But initially, you will need to put in the leg work.

If you have other skills, like diving, you could find yourself at the bottom of the ocean, welding on oil rigs. Some welders even go to space to build the International Space Station!

21. High Payers

The highest hourly rates are in Alaska, where they pay about $43.50. Hawaii comes close at $39.30 per hour, meaning welders can easily top $100,000 a year.

However, the sky’s the limit if you branch out and start your own business.

22. It’s Easy to Advance

Because welders are so in demand, it is relatively easy to climb the career ladder. It is less competitive than real estate or insurance, where it’s dog-eat-dog because clients will seek you out.

Welders need a decent work ethic and a can-do attitude to get ahead. You also need to get along with people because you’ll likely be working alongside professionals on several projects.

Keep In Mind

Welding can be a lonely business if you live out of a suitcase. Different projects, new people, and a lack of routine make it a tricky career for putting down roots.

23. It’s Easy to Side Hustle

Welders are always in demand, so if you want to earn money on the side, it should be easy. You can offer local services, work weekends, and even weld during your holidays. You could even branch out into manufacturing your own products.

Some welders make as much as their salary working on the side.

Welding Downsides

We’ve talked about the sunlit uplands of a welding career, but it can’t always be sunny in the welding garden. There are things you need to consider before embarking on a welding career.

24. It’s Dangerous Work

Welding is hazardous, not least because of the high temperatures and risky environment. You will often work at heights, especially in construction, and hazards are everywhere. If you love danger, you’ve found your calling.

Remember that a structure is only as strong as the welding. You must concentrate, never cut corners, and consistently deliver quality work. If you get it wrong, it could result in disaster.

25. It’s Dirty Work

If you’re a welder, your days of dining in fine restaurants are over. Your fingernails will be stained black from all the metal dust. Your hair, face, and clothes will get extremely filthy. After every shift, you’ll need a long hot shower to remove the debris.

Not all welding is dirty. If you work underwater or are a stainless steel TIG (tungsten inert gas) welder, you won’t get as filthy. But for almost all other welding jobs, expect to get covered in dirt.

It’s also hot work, so if you are in a warm state on a sunny day, you will melt under all that equipment and protection.

26. It’s Hard Work

If you think welding is light work, think again. It is very physical and involves heavy objects. There’s a lot of climbing and lifting, which can be demanding. So, if you’re the sort who likes a desk job, maybe welding is not the career for you.

27. It Can Be Tough to Fit In

Some workshops are run by the “old boys,” and they rarely take kindly to strangers muscling in on their operation. You will experience this over your welding career, so get used to it.

Welding is a white-male-dominated industry, so getting established can be a challenge if you are a woman, African American, or Hispanic. Not everyone you meet will have these attitudes, but some old-timers may see you as a threat.

This experience may be more common for self-employed welders who chase the highest-paying jobs. You are unlikely to work in one place for too long, so establishing relationships can be tricky.

It also means you need to be a fast learner because you need to click with whoever you are working with to understand how they work.

Welding Safety Tips and Guidelines

Welder wearing protective helmet at work

We’ve touched on the dangers of welding, so what are the best safety practices to keep you free from injury? Let’s take a look.

Wear the Right Clothes

Welding is hot and dangerous. Working with temperatures of 6,000 to 8,000 degrees Celsius is a recipe for severe skin burns. Wear welding gloves, a leather apron, a fire-resistant coat without cuffs, and suitable work boots.

Your clothes should be fire and electricity-resistant. Ensure that your heavy denim pants are cuff-less because sparks get trapped in there and may start a fire. You should have no loose clothing or anything that can get snagged.

Wear a Respirator

It’s not just fire that can harm you. Welding also produces toxic fumes that can damage your lungs, so you need to wear a respirator under your mask.

Fire Extinguisher

Keep a fire extinguisher nearby when welding and always check that it is full. If you don’t have an extinguisher, keep a hose or bucket of sand handy. If welding near flammable objects, throw a fire blanket over them to protect them from sparks.

Sweep the Floor

Before firing up your welder, remove any flammable debris from the floor. This is especially important if you work on a construction site with wood shavings and sawdust on the floor. If sparks land, they could ignite and start a fire.

Wear a Welding Helmet

Welding is a close-quarters pursuit, so your face will be only inches from your project. Welding helmets protect your face from sparks and the insane light that the arc gives off. A welding shield will diffuse the light to reduce retinal damage and keep the sparks away from your face.

This YESWELDER model is affordable and comes with automatic shade adjustment.

FAQs

How Many Accidents a Year are Caused By Welding?

In the US, welding is believed to cause over 4,000 non-fatal accidents every year and 100 fatalities per annum. It reinforces the idea that welding is dangerous and should be treated with respect and caution.

Can You Weld Under Water?

The art of wet welding is used frequently on many marine construction projects. You can use TIG to weld underwater, provided that the welder sits inside a dry chamber with an air supply.

Underwater welding is only possible using the TIG method because it creates no sparks or fumes.

Why Do Welders Drink Milk?

The theory behind drinking milk is essentially a false one. Welders believe that milk helps the body eliminate toxins produced during the welding process. One theory is that milk helps the body produce mucus, which helps to discharge welding fume particles.


Final Thoughts

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading these comprehensive welding facts and figures. If you are looking to get into welding straight from school or are changing careers later in life, welding is surprisingly easy to get into.

The work is interesting, varied, and well paid. So, what are you waiting for?

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.