Can any welder weld pipe? No. Pipe welding is extremely critical because if the weld is not done correctly lives and land and the environment are at stake. Find out more about 6G welding and why it pays so well. And why the welding school industry lies prevent most welders from learning to do it.
How can a pipe welder make $1,000 a day?
A very experienced pipe weld who can weld pipe using stick (SMAW) and TIG (GTAW) and who owns and operates his own welding rig (a truck with a motor-generator portable welder) can earn up to $150 an hour. If a Combination Pipe Rig Welder works 14 hours and is paid $71.42 an hour – 14 x $71.42 = $1,000. And yes, these rare welders can make up to $300,000 a year.
The other side of that coin is another welder.
Consider the welder who has slugged his or her way through 6 months to two years in a junior college welding lab – and now finds himself (or herself) slugging through days of robotic-like welding in a factory for as little as $80 a DAY. Both are welders. What is the big difference?
The mystery and myth about welding:
Both examples of accomplished welders (above) have worked hard for their skills. The mystery is why one makes up to $1,000 a day while the other makes as little as $80 a day.
The myth is this: “Go to welding school and you’ll make a good living.” This myth is perpetuated by an industry that has not kept up with the times. There are many reasons for this.
Welding Industry Myth Perpetuation Reason # 1:
Welding schools and instructors know that by keeping a traditional “learning chain” in place, students must spend more time in school. To become a pipe welder requires learning basic welding in at least one process. To be a “Master Welder” requires much more schooling because the student must master several processes. Typically, these include MIG, Stick, TIG, brazing, torch cutting. In addition (and along the path) welders are taught at least the basics of metal fabrication, metallurgy and often plasma cutting.
All this learning takes time and money – it is the “payday” for the welding instruction industry. Any short cuts are frowned upon as “cheating.” Yet, this “chain of learning is theft – stealing from welding students – and it has been going on for decades.
Welding Industry Myth Perpetuation Reason # 2:
The welding education industry does not want you to know how low the wages are for the skills they are teaching because they will lose students. The best aircraft TIG welders do make good money. These are structural TIG welders at a level that is difficult to achieve. However, few of these “cream of the crop” TIG welders make what an average pipe welder (a single hander – a pipe welder without a truck and welder) makes.
And the average TIG welder (who must still be an awesome TIG welder) will be offered $15 an hour in a factory… a very sad situation. The welding schools will point to pipe welding and say, “As soon as you have structural certifications, you can go to pipe school, graduate and make the big bucks.”
What they don’t tell you – you’ll be so worn out with welding school – all the time and effort and money to get structural certifications – you will give up and go get a $10 to $20 job. Often, there is no choice – students just hit the end of their money and they MUST go to work.
Now, the above starting wages for welders just out of school apply to welders who have had a “master welders” education! All that learning of all those processes and other skills still results in sickening low wages!
Welding Industry Myth Perpetuation Reason # 3:
“You must obtain your structural certifications before you can attend pipe welding school.” This myth is partially true just because the welding school industry conspires for it to be true. If you don’t have your structural certifications and you try to enroll in pipe welder’s school, you will be rejected. There may be a few exceptions in the U.S. but not many. In other words the basic structural welding schools conspire with the pipe welding schools to make this LIE a fabricated reality.
What they are NOT telling you:
There is NO LAW that says you cannot learn to weld by simply welding pipe! Imagine a school where you would be taught welding safety first. Next, you would learn to correctly strike an arc. After that, you would master stringer beads on the flat. Immediately after that, you would master stringer beads in the 6G position on pipe (the pipe is mounted in a fixed 45 degree position).
From that point forward, you would ONLY lay down stringer beads on pipe set at a 45 degree angle.
Next, you would practice open root welding on the flat. As soon as you got that down, you would practice open root welding on pipe in the 6G position. Never again would you weld anything on the flat…
Once you mastered 6G root passes, you would learn 6G hot passes. After that, 6G filler passes and after that, 6G cap passes.
Lastly the school would provide a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) to test your best joint. If you passed, you would be ready to enter the high demand and high pay world of pipe welding.
What would be the total elapsed time – non welding to pipe welder? About 3 months! Just think about it – you could go from non-welder to pipe welder in a few months… NOT years!
The USA may be the only country that does not have a structure of laws regarding pipe welding. In other words, if you can do it, you can do it – and that’s all there is to it.
In most other countries (including Canada) you must successfully complete a long chain of classes and certifications BEFORE you can become a pipe welder.
In the USA, if you can successfully pass a 6G welding test, you can find work as a pipe welder. Your first employer will require you to work as a helper to a pipe welder so they can watch you by slowly letting you weld more and more.
The reason for this is to be sure you are going to not blow joints in pipe lines – it just cost too much to rework the joints. Your time as a helper may be short or long – depending on you do – it could be a matter of weeks or a matter of months – but NOT years!
What should you do next?