A rig welder’s day is filled with adventure.

Like other welders, they weld and shape metals, creating building structures, machine parts and much more. But many rig welders do all this for structures on ocean waters, so they rarely have a dull day at work!

With more than 47,000 estimated average annual welding job openings in the United States,42 there's a chance you can pursue a welding career too! But what do rig welders do, exactly? What are some pointers on how to become a rig welder?

Becoming a rig welder can seem like a distant goal if you’re not sure where to start. Fortunately, our guide will help teach you about rig welding and how to pursue entry-level roles in the welding industry.

One way to start is by attending Universal Technical Institute’s 36-week Welding Technology training program, which teaches fundamental, hands-on welding skills! This training can assist many welding professionals who want to prepare for oil rig welding careers.1

Continue reading to learn more. Below, we’ll go over what rig welders are and how to pursue this career!

What Is Welding?

Before diving into what rig welding is, it helps to get a brief overview of the general welding trade. In a nutshell, welding is the process of joining, reshaping and transforming metal materials using high heat and other power tools. It’s a critical skill required to create, maintain and repair building structures, metal components and more.

Welders perform repairs, inspections and maintenance to ensure structures and components are in tip-top condition. They also need to follow local compliance standards, read blueprints and have computer skills to use digital software vital to their roles.

These essential skills are taught in UTI’s accredited Welding training program. Our program takes less than a year to complete and can prepare students with the skills needed to pursue entry-level welding roles. Students in the program learn the four main types of arc welding:

UTI’s welding courses help students learn to apply these skills and solve different problems that could arise in the field. Aspiring welders use this industry-standard training to deftly solve trade-specific problems, which can benefit both their learning and the final welded product.

Read more: Skills Needed to Be a Welder

What’s a Rig Welder?

Rig welding is also known as oil rig welding. It’s the process of welding metal structures and materials for oil rigs, which are critical facilities used for extracting oil before delivering it to oil wells. Manufacturing companies, oil refineries and energy companies commonly need rig welding technicians.

Oil rig welders can work on both onshore and offshore oil extraction sites and are responsible for ensuring the rigs’ structural soundness. Rig welders, including entry-level technicians, may conduct standard welding duties on the metalwork of these rigs, including construction, repairs and maintenance.

Rigs can only function properly if these tasks are performed correctly. If they malfunction due to metalwork issues, the rig itself could pose safety risks and disrupt oil extraction.

Welding technicians may live on oil rigs or be flown in to perform their duties. Because of worksite-wide power tool use, welding worksites are typically noisy all day long. Since welding work is done outdoors, they’re also less protected from severe weather.

Of course, entry-level rig welders get the training and protective gear needed for safe welding conditions. Besides, many prospective rig welders want this role because of the unpredictable, high-stakes challenges that come with it. They thrive off the high-energy environment, which is full of opportunities to keep them on their toes and help them grow as welding technicians.

If these opportunities appeal to you, rig welding could be a good career fit. This is especially true after developing important welding traits like:

  • Communication, both written and verbal
  • Teamwork
  • Math and science skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem-solving
  • Physical strength

Students can build and develop these traits at one of UTI’s Welding campuses nationwide. Our Welding program is a great training option for welding novices or professionals looking to prepare for a new career path!

Read more: Ranking the Highest Paying Median Annual Welding Salaries

How Can I Train to Become a Rig Welder?

Becoming an entry-level rig welder doesn’t have to be confusing. However, there are some steps you can take to prepare for rig welding jobs.

Earn a High School Diploma or GED

While entry-level rig welding requirements vary, most employers ask for a high school diploma or GED diploma. You'll also need one of these documents to apply to most trade schools, including UTI, since they demonstrate that the graduate successfully completed a structured educational program that requires critical-thinking skills, self-discipline and a sense of responsibility.

Read more: UTI Admissions Requirements

Enroll in a Trade School or Complete an Apprenticeship

An effective welding education usually involves technical training. Employers frequently prefer candidates who have completed a trade program or apprenticeship, since it means they’ve learned and practiced critical welding skills. Practiced welders can better anticipate their daily task load and correct common beginner mistakes, which is ideal before first jumping into a full-time welding role.

Training like this can be done at UTI, whose 36-week Welding curriculum was created  in collaboration with Lincoln Electric! By completing the Welding Technology program, our graduates can better demonstrate to leading manufacturers, including Lincoln Electric itself, that they possess the skills needed for full-scale welding operations.1

This is especially true if students contact our Career Services team, which is made up of UTI representatives who can provide information about available job opportunities and help students prepare application materials. Students can use these services to help polish their résumés and train for upcoming interviews, some of which may be conveniently held on campus!

Gain Experience

Keep building your skill set after you enter the industry, whether as an entry-level worker or otherwise! If you’re still set on getting on a rig, gaining experience can eventually help you transfer your skills to an oil well.

Once you’re there, keep gaining experience. You may be able to advance in the ranks over time. Or you might find a different role in the industry that still requires your oil rig welding knowledge.

But to start up your journey, it helps to get the right education, like the kind offered in our Welding program. By completing it, you’ll be better prepared to handle whatever welding role you aspire to.

Read more: How to Become a Traveling Welder

Interested in What Welders Do?

There’s a demand for qualified welders. Interested in training to become an industry professional yourself?

Take the first step and enroll in UTI’s 36-week Welding Technology training program! Here, we teach students the fundamentals of the welding trade. UTI also has strong relationships with manufacturers that can help our welding graduates pursue exciting opportunities.

We’re ready when you are! Once you’re ready to jump into your education, apply to our welding school!

UTI Campuses That Offer Welding Training

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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.
42 ) For Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an annual average of 42,600 job openings between 2022 and 2032. Job openings include openings due to net employment changes and net replacements. See Table 1.10 Occupational separations and openings, projected 2022-32, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, viewed November 16, 2023. UTI and MIAT are educational institutions 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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