How Much Does It Cost to Start a Welding Business

My New Weld Shop

As someone who has owned a welding business for nearly 10 years now I’ve learned a lot.  However when I was first starting out I learned nothing was cheap and got a first hand experience of just exactly how much it cost to start a welding business.

How much does it cost to start a welding business?  At the very least you’re looking at spending $5000 if you plan to buy a basic welder and few tools to do welding for people in your local area. However, if you need to buy steel and hire employees you’ll need around $50,000 or more just to get started.

However, this all depends on the type of welding business you plan to start and what jobs you plan to do.  

What Does It Cost to Start a Welding Business

The cost it takes to start a welding business all depends on the type of business you plan to do.  So here are the different types of welding businesses and how much they will cost to start.

#1 The Solo Welder

The solo welder is probably the cheapest option of them all.  This is someone who has a welder and helps people with various odd and end jobs in the local area.

For example, this could be someone who helps a farmer repair some old gates around his farm.  This person would also likely be doing this business on the site or out of a small shop or even out of their garage.

So what kind of cost could you expect with this type of business?  Here are a few things to consider.

  • Welder – $2000 to $3000 – You’ll need a welder but in this case, since your business is mobile you’ll want either a more portable welder or one that has a generator tied to it.
  • Tools –  $1000 – You’ll also need some basic tools like a welding helmet, welding gloves, and basic hand tools like vise grips, hammer, wrenches, and even a hand grinder.
  • A Vehicle or Small Shop – $0 – Finally if you’re starting a solo welding business you’ll want a truck or a small shop to do your work in.  I’m not going to set a cost for this since you probably have those things already, but if you do your cost to get started will be a lot more.

To get started as solo welder you’ll need at least $5000 to get up and running.

#2 Skilled Welding Contractors

The next type of welding business you could start is to be a skilled welding contractor.  This person will likely be a certificated welder and know various types of welding from MIG, Stick, and TIG.  

This person will be contracted by other companies to work on oil pipelines or even weld underwater fixing the bottom of boats and usually get paid no less than a $100 an hour.

So what does it cost to be a skilled welding contractor?

Welder and Tools – $5000+ – In this case, you’ll need a more industrial equipment from a welder to tools.  

License – $16,880 – In order to do any of these types of jobs you’ll need a certification and this cost can vary widely from school to school.  For example to attend the Hobart Institute you’re looking at $16,880, not counting room and board and other expenses.

Vehicle – You’ll also need a vehicle such as a heavy-duty truck to carry all of your equipment as well.  I’m going to include this cost since I’m assuming you already have this equipment

In total you’re looking at least a minimum of $22,000 just to get started.

#3 B to B Welding

The last option is the type of business I have a B to B welding business welding stuff for other businesses.  At my business MSWelding we weld gating for hog barns.  We get these jobs through other businesses who need this work done.

Another company not to far from us builds racking for Honda, GM, and Ford.  They work with these companies and when then need racks built they are offered the opportunity to bid on them.

So how much does it cost to start this kind of business?

  • Equipment –  $100,000+ – To start you’ll need welders, band saws, grinders, tools, forklifts, shears, a break.  There is literally no end to the number of tools you might need here.
  • Shop – $150,000+ – You’ll also likely need a decent size shop to get started.  You can either put one up your self which can be very expensive or you can rent a place till you get up and on your feet.
  • Employees – $75,000 – Finally, you’ll likely need a few employees to get up and running as well.  For 2 employees not counting yourself who earn $18 an hour you’re looking at spending roughly $75,000 a year for pay and benefits.

To start your own B to B welding business you’re looking at a minimum of $500,000 to get up and running.

What About Ongoing Cost to Run a Welding Business

The initial cost to get started is just the beginning, you also have to consider the ongoing cost as well.  These are the cost you’ll have to pay on a regular basis.  

So hear are a few cost you’ll have to consider.

  • Insurance – You’ll need insurance to protect any assets that you have from your welding equipment to your vehicle or shop.
  • Welding Supplies – You’ll also need welding supplies like welding wire, gas, gloves, welding tips, to welding lenses.
  • Employees – If you need employees your looking at a minimum of $35,000+ a year per employee plus if you plan to offer health insurance or a retirement plan.
  • Steel – If you need to order steel then could be a huge expense for your business.  For example, my company spends anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 per order.  This may be more or less depending on the type of business you have.
  • Legal Advice – From time to time you’ll also need some legal advice such as setting up an LLC or dealing with customers who aren’t paying.
  • Taxes – Depending on the size of your business you’ll likely have to pay quarterly estimated taxes, sales tax, and even property tax if you have a shop.
  • Accounting – Finally, if you’re starting a welding business especially like the one I have you’ll want an accountant that can help you lower your tax burden.

What If I Can’t Afford the Startup Cost

As you can tell it can cost a lot to start a welding business, but that doesn’t mean its impossible though.  Here are a few tips to help you out.

#1 Start Small

First Weld Shop

First, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your welding business.  When my father started his welding he had a small shed that he added on to.

After 10 years of that he moved to a 7200 square foot shop and after 22 years we recently built a brand new 14,600 square foot shop.  In all, it roughly took 32 years to get from where we started to where we are now.

When it comes down to it you don’t want to build your business all at once.  That can usually spell trouble if things don’t work out right from the start.

#2  Take a Small Loan

If you don’t have the money you might be able to take a small loan on the equipment but I recommend you use the first money you earn to pay off the debt first before taking any profits.

To do this you could use a credit card if you have a high enough limit but a lot of times you can get a small business loan or a revolving loan to at much lower interest rates than a credit card.

#3 Get Your First Few Jobs

Finally, one way to get things going is to get a few jobs upfront and ask them to front all or half the money so you can either rent or buy the equipment you need to do the job.

This doesn’t mean you need to buy everything but rather buy just what you need to get started.  Once you start to earn a few bucks you can start to buy more tools.

Related Questions

Do you have to have a licenses to be a welder?  You don’t need to be certified to weld however in certain situations it is required depending on the type of job.  For example, if you have to weld underwater, or oil pipelines.

Can welders make good money?  According to Payscale the median pay for a welder is $17.58 an hour.  However, some jobs such as underwater welding can pay up to  $121,000 a year.

Are welders in demand?  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics welding is predicted to grow 26% by the year 2020.   This means hundreds of thousands of welding jobs in demand for years to come.

When it comes down to it welding can be a great way to earn an income and start a business.  With the demand for welders and the decent pay its never been better to start a welding business of your own.

Are you thinking about starting a welding business?

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