What Is a Rig Welder?

What Is A Rig Welder?

A rig welder is a welder that works on oil rigs — platforms where oil is mined, processed, and stored. Rig welders use power tools and welding equipment to construct pipes, beams, and vessels while on the job. Since oil rigs are erected in places where oil can be mined, many of them are located some distance from the coast and people who work on them usually have to travel to work there.

Oil and natural gas drilling activities, along with all the trucks, pumps, and compressors used for operation make an oil rig a busy, heavy-lifting environment. Its high noise levels and offshore location require not only extensive welding knowledge and skills but also the grit to carry out the work despite the elbow grease and the fact that workers may be far away from home.

How to Become a Rig Welder

A high school diploma or its equivalent is generally required to land an employer-based apprenticeship program. Individuals can also prepare for a career in rig welding by enrolling in a technical or vocational course. Some professional organizations like the American Welding Society offer welding courses and certifications. Upon completion, graduates can apply for entry-level jobs in various industries like manufacturing, energy, shipyards, and more. 

As they gain more experience and training, workers can qualify for more advanced roles and higher pay grades of up to $100,000 per year or even more depending on the position, company, and the rig’s location.

There are also US states and localities that require certifications before being granted employment as a rig welder.

Specialized Rig Welder Roles

There are various classifications of rig welders based on the focus of their jobs. These include pipeline welders, ironworkers, fitters, fitter-welders, spot welders, hardbander welders, or a combination of these roles. Let’s explore these specializations bit more.

Pipeline Welders

Pipeline welders are highly skilled welders who bend, shape, fuse, install, and repair the network of oil-carrying pipelines.


Ironworkers are in charge of metal processes and welding construction on the rig. 


Fitters or fitter-welders are responsible for fitting, assembling, and fusing metal parts for production equipment. 

Spot Welder

They are responsible for welding metal sheets using a resistant spot welding process or applying heat and pressure to weld materials together.

Hardbander Welder

Hardbander welders are mainly responsible for reinforcing drill pipe joints and collars by applying or coating them with wear-resistant alloy.

On-The-Job Skills for Rig Welders

The job of a rig welder is perfect for those who want a job that requires muscle, precision, dexterity, and stamina. A rig welder must be adept with gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) or TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding and shielded metal arc welding (SMAW). They must be proficient in using different materials like stainless steel, carbon steel, nickel-based alloys, titanium, and copper nickel. 

Forge Forward in Your Career With nexair Knowhow

nexAir offers various training opportunities to help advance welders’ skills while increasing company productivity. Welders can take advantage of nexAir training to hone their abilities and progress professionally in their oil rig welding careers. 

Knowledge of welding power tools and techniques is always a good way to increase efficiency and reduce the chances of making costly mistakes. With nexAir, excellence in welding is a value we share with our clients and their teams.

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