Getting Into A Welders Union [2023]

A welders union is the next step you take when you want to take your hobby welding to new heights, which is taking up welding as a career.

Welding is a field where there are options available for everything. 

Similarly, you have two options here too. Either to join a welders union or stay union-free and work on your own.

Both these roads are interconnectedly parallel to each other and have their pros and cons.

To just get a glimpse of union and non-union welding, sit back, because this ride is rather going to be a long informative one. 

A new member of a welders union
A new member of a Welders Union

Also, if you are an established welder and wanted to join a welders union, don’t worry we have you covered too, while you frantically search for “welding union near me”.

I have tried my best to list down all the possible outcomes, procedures to join a welders union, the qualifications and skills required, and a little bit about welders union apprenticeship, and hope this is going to be a great helper guide for you. 

Union VS Non-Union Welding Jobs

Whether joining a union is best for you, or not to join one, is a choice of yours and depends on different people differently according to your aim, working experience, style, and social preferences. 

There has been a tug-of-war between which one is better, and where a welder should go for, but it is a dynamic question and tends to change with time. So there is no ending and stoppage at all. 

But discussing these two fields is my job. I want you to get a clearer picture by throwing light on these crossroads

Just get this noted down that unions are necessary, while non-union is a necessity. Both balance each other if there were all unions and no non-union work then the benefits of each of them wouldn’t be seen.   

Advantages of A Welders Union

I would advise you to go for joining a welders union as the following points precisely show how you can enjoy the best of both these worlds. 

On-the-job training 

The only biggest difference between joining a welders union or staying a non-union welder is that welders union train you well and you always have a job to do. 

You won’t have to look for training agencies. 

I would advise you to go to the union route as it is hard to receive as well as beat the quality of training in the non-union venue. 


In most cases, union jobs are at the top of the pay scale for work in many areas. 

Shifting from the non-union sector to the union sector may prove more profitable as it will allow you to receive a promotion and payment that meets your requirements and exceeds your current wage.

I think that welders unions are a necessity in a way that they keep the wages up for every welder out there. 

Welders Union Apprenticeship

Welders unions offer you outstanding apprenticeship as well as rights.

There are positive and rewarding components in the formal sector like getting regular salaried paid work, you accrue retirement and seniority, medical expenses are met, assured working conditions are available, safe and healthy working environments, job referrals nationwide from numerous locals, regular and fixed salary, paid-leaves, and other benefits.

That would be unlikely to be in the non-union venue, where you will have to pay out of your pockets without any employer contribution aid. 


Rewards are given more readily to those who work independently as the individual contribution is more appreciated.

In welders unions, welders are equally compensated ignoring the former or laters skill. 

But this is not the case in non-union venues and is a possibility where more skilled individuals get better compensation and offered more perks and benefits because of his/her performance. 

Education qualifications 

Both union and non-union sectors require some level of education qualification and training. 

Training and welding union apprenticeships are higher as compared to working on your own.

Although most non-union contractors will require a test and if you fail to meet the minimum requirement they will put you on the waiting list and ultimately you will have to pay for your education which is illegal and immoral. 

Disadvantages of A Welders Union

Geographical influence 

Geographical localities can be a great influence on whether you want to join a welders union or stay a non-union worker. 

Depending on the situation at a given time, the place of work should be recognized as to the opportunities available. 

But it’s just that, while being a union worker, you don’t have a choice and have to go wherever your boss sends you, especially during apprenticeships. 

Whereas if you are working as a non-union worker, the choice is completely on you, not forgetting the fact of job opportunities available then. 


You have more flexibility as a non-union worker.

And by flexibility what I mean is that you can drag up if the conditions are not up to your liking. 

You are independent here as you can choose a preferable location to work, on the other hand, while in a welders union, you are dependent on the BA and where he sends you as an apprenticeship. 

A downfall for non-union workers is that you cannot go to a union project. 

Whereas, with the union apprenticeship you will be learning side by side completing the educational requirements.

For joining a welders union, you will need to have some knowledge to be eligible for the permitted hand. 

How To Join A Welders Union?

We have laid out the exact steps for a beginner to follow who has an interest in welding and wants to join a welders union in the future:

  • Joining a welding trade school imparting theoretical lectures and practical training. 
  • Taking courses for a 3 to 6 time period learning the necessary skills and equipment handling procedures, operations, and safety measures.
  • Having at least 5 years of apprenticeship or experience in welding. 
  • Research Pipefitters, Boilermakers, or Ironworker unions. 
  • Lastly getting a certificate from the Ironworks American Welding Society

Even if you do not have the following qualifications, and have some hands-on experience with welding, welders unions can train you through an apprentice program. 

Following are some conditions that you may encounter in your training period at a welders union:

  • Confiscatory union dues.
  • Exploitation 
  • Nepotism. 
  • Immoral and illegal practices. 
Industrial Welders sent from a Welders Union
Industrial Welders sent from a Welders Union

Union Worker Job Duties



  • Assembling private, commercial, and industrial building structures. 
  • Construction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges sometimes also including rail welding


  • Installing steel supports for different types of workplaces. 
  • Courage to work at great heights and tall structures. 
  • Having perception and balance. 
  • Handling outdoor machine work. 

Educational qualifications 

  • Having an apprenticeship program for a period of three to four years. 
  • Spending 144hours studying mathematics, measurements, safety measures, and technicalities each consecutive year. 
  • Devoting about 2000 hours to training. 


  • Arranging and fitting iron and steel structures together. 
  • Metal cutting, bending, and shearing. 
  • Demolition of old structures. 



  • Construction of metal boilers. 
  • Installation of boilers in shipbuilding, vehicles, machine production, and power generation. 
  • Maintain a regular check and balance of boilers by making repairs and replacements. 


  • Technical know-how on riveting and bolting equipment 
  • Have mastery in processes like chemical and water composition or pressures at different temperatures.  
  • Having control over phobias related to working at great heights. 
  • Have the ability for working in cramped spaces usually suffocated. 
  • Working under high pressure 

Educational qualifications 

  • four – year apprenticeship 
  • Full-time practical work experience. 


  • Construction and maintenance of tanks and vats.
  • Handling technically updated machines to join pieces together. 
  • Assembling of smokestacks, blast furnaces, and turbines. 
  • Placing big pipes to direct water to turbines for generating hydro-electricity. 
  • You should be aware of your surroundings and avoid welding accidents.



  • Designing and laying down mechanical and high-pressure pipelines. 
  • Knowing the ins and outs of pipe welding.
  • The purpose is for gas and water transmission 
  • Bring about aid in heating and cooling systems, the transmission of steam, ventilation, and fuel transportation. 


  • The ability to plan and install at the same time. 
  • Work with high-level tools like grinders, levels, dies, and other such welding equipment.
  • Skill in laying, fitting, cutting, and connection of pipes. 
  • Professional st digging trenches.
  • Have an IQ level at understanding basic blueprints and plans. 

Educational qualifications 

  • Four or five years priced apprenticeship certificate. 
  • Having extensive classroom work and training in mathematics, drafting, physics, and chemistry. 
  • Exposed to on-the-job training programs. 


  • Weights and measurements of pipes. 
  • Cutting, threading, and welding pipes. 
  • Trained for using tools like saws, cutters, threaders, blenders, and welders. 
  • Designing layouts and planning for installations.
  • Maintaining the pipes by repairs, replacements, and removing depreciated pipes. 
Welders Union

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do Union Welders make?

Generally, Union Welders are at the top of the pay scale and earn more than the non-union welders. 

The wages are higher in union avenue as compared to that of non-union venues. 

The salaries are fixed and determined by the local union pay scales and job contractors. The wages of welders are static and barely change but they are higher at initial stages. 

There was a study carried by the Bureau of Labour Statistics which concluded the fact that the average annual pay for welders was about $42,916 in the year of 2019-2020, and a majority of welders earned about $69,926. 

Which is the best Union for welders? 

It is an obvious thing that the best union for you will be according to your working habits, preferences, comfort zones, qualifications, and eligibility criteria. 

What might be the best accommodative union for one welder may not be such for the other. 

But among the three types of unions, the most commonly known is the pipefitters union.

The benefits include; health insurance, an integrated retirement plan, a flexible schedule, paid time off, and an employee assistance program. 

Apart from these benefits, the pipefitters union is a popular and notable union for welders about which most beginner, as well as professional welders, know about. 

How hard is it to get into the local Welders Union? 

Well, joining local welders unions isn’t as simple as it sounds. 

You need to have the skills and ability to qualify and obtain certifications. 

Sometimes you will need on-site training and a certificate for driving specific construction vehicles and handling certain machines.

You should have strong communication skills, attention span, and keen mastery of welding principles. 

You should be able to understand basic blueprints and the pressure under which to work. 

The calculation of dimensions requires strong planning and attention. During the initial stages, attending a trade school is a necessity. 

Besides this, they require practical work experience for at least four to five years. 

Yes, it is hard to get into a local welders union, but it is sure worth the pain and hard work to take for. 

In which Union are welders represented? 

After being eligible for joining a welders union, fulfilling all the necessary criteria, welders have three choices in front of them. 

A welders union represents welders in three broad categories, which are Ironworkers, Boilermakers, and pipefitters. 

Ironworks unions work on construction frames on machines, bridges, and vehicle manufacturing. The notable Ironworks unions which represent welders are, International Association of Bridge, Ornamentals and Structural and the Reinforcing Iron Workers and Steelworkers. 

Boilermakers unions work with metals under high temperatures and pressures. The notable boilermakers unions which represent welders are the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forges, etc. 

Pipefitters unions work in domestic, private, or even commercial and public works for supplying pipelines and imparting plumbing facilities. The notable Pipefitters union which represents welders is the Union Association.  


As I said, it was going to be a long ride. 

From deciding to which avenue is most suited, to the three unions available for welders, we successfully discussed the eligibility criterion needed to be fulfilled for joining a welders union. 

I hope you take into account and keep in mind all the possibilities out there for you and take up something that puts light on your individuality. 

The best thing is to take the initial step and start welding. 

I am sure that your talent will not go unrewarded whatever path you ought to take, until and unless you are working hard, persistent, and putting efforts.