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What Does a Shipyard Welder Do?

Feb 22, 2021 ·

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Welders are found in all types of environments — working on cars in garages, working on heavy-duty equipment in the field and fabricating machinery in manufacturing plants.

There’s also shipyard welding, where a ship welder or boat welder works on water vehicles. Shipyards, also known as dockyards, are where ships are repaired and built. A shipyard welder might work on building new watercraft using welding techniques or on vessels that are docked and need to be repaired.

Shipyard welding is an industry where welders get to work in marine environments on large, unique vessels. If you have a love for the water and boats and enjoy working with your hands, you might be interested in a career as a shipyard welder. Here’s what they do and how to become one.

Shipyard Welder Job Description

Welders use electrical currents to fuse metals like steel together to repair parts or build new components. In a shipyard, a welder uses power tools and hand tools to work on boats and ships.

Shipyard welders interpret schematic drawings and blueprints to help understand the required job. They follow safety regulations and use a variety of welding processes, like gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) and gas metal arc welding (GMAW), to complete each job.

The typical daily duties of a shipyard welder might include:

  • Inspecting materials and structures to weld
  • Conducting ship component construction
  • Repairing ship components
  • Using cutting tools and torches
  • Monitoring the welding process to prevent overheating
  • Maintaining organized and clean work spaces, machinery and equipment
  • Updating welding task logs

A shipyard welder will get a job assignment from a supervisor, safely execute the work and provide updates. Efficient and effective shipyard welding is crucial so ships and boats operate safely for all on board. Successful jobs also lower costs and get ships and boats on the water in less time.

How to Become a Shipyard Welder

Like any welding position, training is required before a welder can get to work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports postsecondary education in welding can help aspiring welders obtain a position. The BLS states employers increasingly prefer to hire welders who have completed formal training.

A welder works on a sheet of metal.

Some welding positions will require welding certifications. All welders will need to be comfortable using their hands and will need to be physically fit, since welding is a physical job that may require welders to weld in various positions. Shipyard welders also may have to lift heavy objects.

Welders also need to have manual dexterity and be detail oriented. Shipyard welders also need to understand how to read blueprints, how to use computers and how to work with electricity.

Job Outlook & Salary for Shipyard Welders

According to the BLS, there are more than 47,000 estimated average annual welding job openings in the United States.42 The BLS states job prospects should be good for welders who are trained in the latest technologies, but welders who lack up-to-date training may face strong job competition.

The BLS also reports that the median annual salary for welders, cutters, solderers and brazers was $47,010 in May 2021.26 This means half of welders earned more and half earned less. Keep in mind that salary can vary depending on several factors, including experience, employer, industry and demand in the area.

Welders may progress in their careers to becoming shipyard welder managers, inspectors and supervisors. There are welder management positions in all types of industries.

Some experienced shipyard welders may move into other welding industries like aerospace or automobile welding. Some shipyard welders may become business owners or work as self-employed welders.

Get Welding Training at UTI

If you’re interested in a career as a shipyard welder, having formal training may help you in your job search. Universal Technical Institute (UTI) offers a 36-week Welding Technology program1 that was created in conjunction with industry leader Lincoln Electric. You’ll learn about:

  • Welding safety
  • Welding principles
  • Engineering and fabrication
  • Pipe welding
  • Various welding applications

Programs start every six weeks at campuses across the country. Contact UTI for information online or at 1-800-834-7308.

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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.

26) UTI’s Welding Technology Training program prepares graduates for entry-level positions using the provided training, primarily as welders. Estimated annual salary shown above is for Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers as published in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2021 Occupational Employment and Wages. Entry-level salaries are lower for UTI graduates. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary. UTI graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on economic factors, personal credentials, work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer, and their compensation programs. Some UTI graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than as a welding technician, such as inspector and quality control. Salary information for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The average annual entry-level salary range for persons employed as Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers (51-4121) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is $36,160 to $50,810 (Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development, May 2020 data https://lmi.dua.eol.mass.gov/lmi/OccupationalEmploymentAndWageSpecificOccupations#). Salary information for North Carolina: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the hourly median wage for skilled welders in North Carolina is $22.33 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2021 Occupational Employment and Wages, Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers). The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish entry-level salary data. However, the 25th and 10th percentile of hourly earnings in North Carolina are $18.12 and $14.58, respectively.

42) For Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an annual average of 47,600 job openings between 2021 and 2031. Job openings include openings due to net employment changes and net replacements. See Table 1.10 Occupational separations and openings, projected 2021-31, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, viewed October 13, 2022. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

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