6 Side-Gig Jobs for Welders – How Much You Can Make?
Last Updated: November 9, 2020
Are you the type of person who can’t get enough of welding and want to make a few bucks on the side? How about earning more with some extra freelance work, along with your ordinary day job? Many full-time welders are making a fortune on the side. Some of them are new to welding, while others weld for a hobby and can still get consistent cash flow from freelance jobs.
It’s becoming increasingly more common for welders to get into side work because of the growing demand for welders, and the lower prices side hustlers can charge without overheads while still earning more than an employer would consider paying them. But how do you get started?
How to Make Money Welding in Your Garage
After hearing how successful it can be, you may be tempted to take the plunge and get right into it, maybe even leave your day job. Although we recommend jumping in early, the way to be most successful is to come up with a game plan first, then ease into it slowly. If you throw yourself in without a plan, or have a strategy that doesn’t leave room for growth and learning, you can end up ruining a lucrative future for yourself.
If you’re working in a welding shop, know what your contract states about side work. Some companies are okay with it, while others will fire you on the spot and may even sue you. If the contract states anything against side work, there are usually avenues you can take that won’t infringe on your obligation. Make sure you figure that out before you dive in.
Ensure the work you’re doing won’t get you thrown in jail. If you’re doing certain transport work, for example, you can go to prison if the weld fails and causes an accident. Even if you’re confident your welds won’t fail, be cautious. Without following the right procedure, you can still get into serious trouble if you don’t know the rules around it.
Once you figure these legal areas out, the next step is to decide which route you want to take. This article uncovers six of the best paths that are easy to get into and can provide you with ample opportunity for an excellent side income. We recommend starting off with one path. You can always add different kinds of work later, but starting slowly helps ensure you’ll do quality work within the timeframe your clients need, and that you’ll continue to get jobs.
Welding side gigs are easy to get into, but for the long run, it all depends on word of mouth. This is perfect if you’re keeping your clients happy, but if you take short cuts with a customer because you’re busy, or leave someone hanging, you can start losing work to other welders from the bad reputation you’ve created for yourself.
6 Welding Side-Gig Opportunities:
1. Build and Repair Trailers
This is an excellent option if you’re confident with the strength of your welds but want to ease into side jobs slowly. You can either repair old trailers or manufacture new ones. For old ones, you buy an old trailer, give it a makeover, and sell it off to make some coin. It’s an easy option, as there are always used trailers you can pick up for a low price, and you can make a good cut off it.
With new trailers, it’s generally a larger project to start. It takes a bit of money to lay down for the initial materials, but once you get going, it’s very lucrative. http://www.trailersauce.com/ provides some free plans that align with the American trailer standards.
When choosing a trailer to build or work on, it’s best to go with a common size, so you have a bigger pool of customers. Once you have finished the trailer, you can then advertise it to buyers through a platform like Facebook or eBay, or put out signs on the street. If you want to ramp things up with trailers, you can find customers who have trailers they want built or refurbished and make them on contract.
How much can you make?
A standard trailer will take a trailer builder 18 hours to manufacture, and you can make $1000 and more from a trailer after the material costs. That’s about $50 an hour for labor, but it will all depend on what you sell it for and how efficient you are at making it.
You can make more than $1000 a trailer when refurbishing them, but there are more variables, so it will usually be a bit more up and down profit-wise.
2. Pick Up Overflow Jobs
This is an excellent option if you have time during regular working hours, or if you can build up a relationship with a local metalworking shop. Work can be up and down for some companies, and when they get swamped with jobs, it’s risky to hire more staff because there may not be enough work to keep everyone busy when it gets quieter. Therefore, some companies take on freelancers or sub out work during their busy spells. If you offer your services to them, you can end up getting a constant supply of side work.
Small machine shops are also a great option to try. Although most machinists can weld, they either aren’t excellent, or they would prefer to stay on their machines. Machine shops are frequently being sent welding jobs, so if you can get trusted by a small one, there’s a high chance it’ll send regular work your way. Large machine shops are harder to get jobs from, as they generally send large batches of fabricating work to welding shops, and sending small stuff your way is usually a hassle.
How much can you make?
The going rate for most workshops is anywhere from $60 to $120 an hour, depending on how specialized the welding is. You can charge whatever price you like, as long as it’s less than your local welding shops; otherwise, the work would already be sent to them. On average, freelance welders charge $30 – $40 an hour for this work. It’s more than most employers would pay you, but it would cost the company the average going rate if it took the work to a fabricating shop, so companies are generally happy to pay more than a typical employee gets.
3. Sell Furniture or Art
Fabricating items to go in people’s homes and gardens is another great option. You may have seen metal sculptures, furniture, or model cars/characters at people’s houses. These are in high demand, and you can tap into the market by getting crafty in a niche.
The best option is to make a few different varieties of items and see what people like. You will soon learn what sells and what doesn’t. Once you get more well-known, you can turn this into a profitable side business, or even a full-time business. People who become known as art or furniture fabricators can end up getting a constant feed of clients wanting items made for them.
How much can you make?
Your market will differ in price range, and it will usually take a bit longer to get into this before you make as much as in other fields. Once you’re up and running with some jigs and find the fastest ways of creating the products, you can earn $50 or more an hour. Don’t expect that to come overnight, though.
4. Open Your Garage for Jobbing Work
You can put a sign outside your house, and let others know you’re a welder who’s keen to take on welding jobs. There are plenty of people who have odd jobs needing your expertise. It’s often a hassle for bigger welding shops to take on odd jobs, so customers wait a while or don’t get looked after that well. When these people know there’s an affordable welder down the road who can run a decent weld quickly, they are all over it.
The diversity of work you’ll get is exciting, but there will also be jobs you probably won’t be keen on doing. If you go this route, make sure to look after all your clients, and don’t be afraid to offer a few free jobs. I’ve seen firsthand how this often turns into further work from them, and more often than not, a few of their friends will stop by to get their jobs done too. Most people rarely expect a free job twice, so see it as an investment.
How much can you make?
You will get a wide range of people coming in for jobs expecting different prices, but your rate will depend on how well you can market yourself. Some welders will set different prices for different work, and others will have a flat rate. $20 – $40 an hour is the average going rate for this kind of freelance work.
5. Enter the Housing Industry
If there are houses near you, someone in them will want a fence, a gate, a balustrade, or even structural work if you’re interested. There is a vast amount of work in this field, especially with gates and fences, but it will pay to prepare for onsite work if you go down the housing route.
Some people use engine-run machines for this work. Others keep a few long extension cords with them and plug into nearby power. Whatever you prefer, make sure you have it before you go onsite, so you don’t waste anyone’s time.
How much can you make?
The benefit of this field is that you can set a flat price for many projects, say, $150 per meter of fencing. If someone wants 20 meters worth, you can make a good profit off it, as you can push lots of fencing out quickly. It will pay to start with smaller projects to get a feel for the market. A helpful place to start is by searching the average going rate here. Charge the average price in your area, or a little less, and you should get jobs depending on how well you market yourself.
For hourly rates, $25 – $40 would be acceptable depending on your experience.
6. Take Maintenance Contracts
Many large businesses shut down shop for a period to do maintenance work on their buildings, machines, and transport areas. Usually, their closings will be short, but will require lots of work to be done. Companies often need extra workers like contract welders to come in and complete extensive projects quickly.
There is a wide range of work you could be assigned. It’s usually hard work, but more often than not, you’re paid exceptionally well. This is an excellent opportunity if you have holidays over the standard vacation period, as maintenance is generally planned then.
How much can you make?
The company you sign with will have its own rate, which you usually won’t have a say over. These projects can be $35 an hour and sometimes more, with extended hours over the shut period to go with it. These are short contracts, from a few days to over a month. If you’re up for some side pay over your holidays, this is a great option.
NOTE: we also recently published an article on how to start a lucrative welding business from scratch. The article can be found here.
As you can see, there are many options if you’re a keen welder who wants to get a side job going. There are a few helpful threads below in the source section where welders discuss their experience with work on the side. Some websites like Craigslist and Indeed post welding gigs, but most welders involved in side-jobs agree that this is not the way to go due to low rates and high competition.
With more than 35% of Americans doing freelance work in 2018, a figure multiplying every year, it’s the right time to get into welding on the side, or even full-time freelancing if you’re up for it. Businesses often begin this way, with a bit of work on the side that ramps up to a full-time company needing employees.
If you have any questions or want to share how you got some side work welding, feel free to comment below.
Sources and helpful threads:
Header image credit: Bradley Hicks, Air Force Materiel Command