Has the Downturn in Oil & Gas Hurt Welders?

By: Audrey Jenkins
Freelance Blogger

Texas employs far more welders than any other state and even during the oil and gas downturn, employers are still actively looking for qualified welders. One company even went as far as to hire security guards to prevent corporate poachers from attempting to steal welders from their job site.  So why are welders in demand when energy companies are still laying off? Following are three primary reasons why we believe welders are in high demand in the Lone Star State.

1. Oil and Gas Industry Boom

While the oil and gas boom has slowed due to a global oil glut, not everyone sees this as a bad thing, reports The Fabricator.  The downturn could give the industry time to develop more infrastructure before the price of oil rises again. Even while employers continue to lay off,  it has not put a dent in the industry’s need for qualified welders. As the following infographic from the Tulsa Welding School shows, Odessa and Midland, both cities that are at the heart of the oil and gas boom, still have an unemployment rate less than 4.5%.

Companies involved in oil and gas extraction still need welders who can weld pipe and large equipment in the shop as well as welders who are willing to work on-site doing pipeline work. On-site welders are in particularly high demand.   Onsite welders tend to work from job to job, sometimes waiting week or months in between assignments.  Due to the temporary nature of this type of work, many welders who are qualified to handle field work tend to opt for shop welding jobs instead, creating a shortage for field welders.

2. Productive Manufacturing Industry

Texas is the second largest employer in manufacturing-related jobs in the United States, according to a government organization called Texas Wide Open for Business. The state’s strong business climate, low-cost natural gas supplies and low taxes have attracted numerous manufacturing companies from a variety of industries into the state. Toyota is building its new U.S. headquarters as well as two new auto plants in the state, Caterpillar is moving its C7 engine production from South Carolina to Texas and car exports from Texas have risen by nearly 50% in the last five years.

Even the recent increase in the use of robotic welding in manufacturing has not dampened the sector’s need for qualified welders. In fact, it has provided high-paying job opportunities for qualified welders who are willing to work as robot operators. Such operators in Texas earned a median annual wage of $54,000 per year in 2013, not counting paid overtime.

3. Lack of Skilled Welders

Unfortunately, the fact that there are a lot of welders in Texas does not mean that there are a lot of good welders in the state. One anonymous employer who wished not to be identified went so far as to say that only 25% of those who the company hired were able to pass the welding exam; other companies have noted that up to 40% of all prospective employees fail this exam. However, an acute shortage of welders has forced many companies to hire arguably sub-par welders and adjust quality standards to compensate for the lack of skill.

Given the above-mentioned facts as well as the statistics outlined below, it is not hard to see why Texas has so many welders yet still faces a welder shortage. Thankfully, there are measures that companies can take to find specialized, qualified welders who are willing and able to handle needed tasks. For the past 20 years, recruiters at Pathfinder Staffing have specialized oil and gas industry recruiting at all levels, including light industrial contractors. Contact us to find out how our extensive database can match you with good welders in a speedy, efficient manner.


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  • 8 Nov, 2015
  • Audrey Jenkins

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