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Shielded Metal Arc Welder Career Paths

Shielded Metal Arc Welder Career Paths in NJ and PA

For anyone pursuing a career in the trades, the profession of arc welding provides plenty of opportunities and room for growth. Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) is an electric arc welding process that joins metals together using a consumable electrode covered with flux to lay the weld. To begin a career in this field, one must obtain the necessary knowledge and skills from a trade program — Pennco Tech can provide both to students in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Led by dedicated instructors, the welding program offered at the Bristol, PA, campus of Pennco Tech introduces students to the welding trade and teaches them essential techniques. Once becoming shielded metal arc welders, individuals are free to use their experiences to pursue a variety of fulfilling career paths. Learn more about the responsibilities of a SMAW and the different career options to consider.

What Does a Shielded Metal Arc Welder Do?

Shielded metal arc welding is one of the oldest and most commonly used welding techniques. The process is employed in a variety of applications, including maintenance and repair, construction, and industrial fabrication.

Although different from the standard welding process, a shielded metal arc welder performs many of the same duties and shares a lot of the same responsibilities. A SMAW welder may be tasked with the following:

  • Accurately reading and understanding blueprints, drawings, and measurements to plan layouts and correctly perform the job
  • Welding various components for a variety of applications including pipelines, shipbuilding, and machine manufacturing
  • Using specialized equipment to perform shielded metal arc welding jobs
  • Following and enforcing strict safety regulations, such as wearing protective gloves, masks, and safety shoes
  • Maintaining a clean and safe workstation to help eliminate accidents

Various Career Paths for Shielded Metal Arc Welders

Being a shielded metal arc welder can be highly rewarding as the services you provide help impact a wide range of different industries. Another benefit is the compensation — the average shielded metal arc welder in the U.S. makes $52,015 per year depending on several factors, such as location, level of experience, and the specific company.

Another advantage of this specialized profession is the different career paths one can take. As a shielded metal arc welder, you can use your skills to pursue an array of other metal worker roles, such as:


Using their on-the-job training, shielded metal arc welders can try becoming boilermakers. As the name suggests, these professionals were originally tasked with creating boilers. Today, they develop a variety of technologies, including bridges, blast makers, and mining equipment. This role may require some travel and comes with the opportunity to make decent pay — the median salary for a boilermaker in 2021 was $64,290.


As a shielded metal arc welder, working with pipelines is common. You can take your knowledge and experiences with this application to try to become a fitter. Also referred to as a pipefitter or steamfitter, this role involves installing, repairing, and maintaining pipes in manufacturing, commercial, and industrial settings. These pipes may carry chemicals, acids, and gases, making compliance with safety precautions a high priority for fitters.

Fitters can also install and repair pipe systems in power plants, as well as heating and cooling systems in large office buildings. Performing this role can earn you a hefty salary as the median annual income for this role was $59,880 in 2021.

Auto Body Welder

Shielded metal arc welders can combine their profession with their passion for automobiles when they pursue a career as an auto body welder. In this role, you will be responsible for repairing and refinishing automotive vehicle bodies, as well as straightening vehicle frames. Other primary duties can include removing damaged parts on a car or truck, using a welder to install replacement parts, and inspecting repaired vehicles. The national average salary for auto body welders is $59,303 per year.

Learn the Basics of SMAW from Pennco Tech

Begin your journey toward a career as a shielded metal arc welder at Pennco Tech. Students in New Jersey and Pennsylvania who enroll in our welding program learn from instructors dedicated to guiding them through many key concepts that will prepare them for future career endeavors.

In addition, the welding program at Pennco Tech includes OSHA safety training, which prepares students for the potential dangers of the trade. This information will help students reduce the risks they may face while performing their duties in the field and promote a secure work environment. For more information about SMAW or the various career paths available, please contact us today at Pennco Tech.

‘I got it!!!!!I got it!’, Anthony said as he raced into the Career Services Office. He was talking about his new job. Hired by a former graduate of Pennco Tech, Anthony will begin his new career with a two-day OSHA training course.

Anthony Z. - Air Conditioning/Heating Graduate

I enjoyed all my teachers. They made it interesting and challenging. I enjoyed going back to school at the age of 48! Career Services was a big help to me. Danielle was great. She helped me with my resume and showed me how to apply. I got the job with Dietz and Watson! Pennco Tech was the right choice for me as I get ready to start my career.

Mark E. - Electrician Graduate

I just wanted to say thank you again for all your help…I just got a full time job at Kennedy Healthcare in Stratford, NJ as a Patient Services Representative. Thank you again.

Maria Z. - Medical Assisting Administrative Graduate