How to start a welding business
Becoming a self-employed welder means you’ll enjoy the freedom of setting your own working hours and who you work with. You run your business on your own terms and work in the areas you enjoy the most.
We’ve put together everything you need to know to take the next step in your career and start your own welding business.
What qualifications do I need to be a self-employed welder?
Hands-on experience is important, but formal qualifications are usually needed to work in the welding industry. That’s why they’re essential for proving your expertise to potential clients.
Make sure you possess one of these qualifications:
- Intermediate apprenticeship in Welding
- Advanced apprenticeship in Fabrication and Welding
- Level 2 Award in Welding Skills
- Level 3 Diploma in Fabrication and Welding Engineering Technology
- T Level in Structural Steelwork
If you have experience in fields like engineering, construction or pipefitting, you might be able to qualify as a welder. If you have relevant experience, then a short training course from The Welding Institute can help you get qualified.
The Welding Institute also offers additional training courses and membership to experienced welders. This not only provides industry recognition of your expertise but also provides benefits such as business support and worthwhile connections.
Completion of the Client Contractor National Safety Group (CCNSG) Safety Passport Scheme is recommended for self-employed welders too. Contractors are unlikely to hire your services without this certificate.
Skills you’ll need as a welder
There are a range of skills needed to provide exceptional service and run a successful welding business:
- Attention to detail
- Problem-solving skills
- Practical thinking
- Numerical skills
- Technical thinking
- Physical fitness
- Ability to lead and manage
Essential welding equipment
When starting your own welding business, having the right tools will be equally as important as having the correct skill set. It’s crucial to own a full inventory of equipment, so you’re ready to take on any job.
Here are the essentials every welder needs:
- Welding machine
- Marking tools
- Angle grinder
- Welding wire
- Welding magnets
- Squaring tools
- Chipping hammers and hacksaw
- Welding clamps and vices
- Fire extinguisher
Depending on the work you take on, you may need to invest in certain advanced equipment to become a welder. It can often be worthwhile to buy second-hand or hire these tools to reduce start-up costs.
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Starting a welding business
Once you’re fully qualified and armed with a trusted set of tools, you’ll be in a great position to go about setting up your welding business.
To formally launch your new business, you’ll need to register it.
This process also requires you to decide whether your business operates as a sole trader or a limited company. There are numerous differences, so you should weigh them up and choose the structure which suits you best.
The process of buying equipment, supplies and getting insured means start-up costs for a welding business can be high. Taking out a business loan can help finance these initial overheads.
While you’ll need to stay in control of your expenditure, setting a competitive pay rate for the work you do is equally important. Check our guide to how much welders make to make sure you’re charging the right amount.
As a welder, you’ll be working in dangerous conditions. That’s why insurance is essential for protecting yourself and your business. Here are the different types of insurance you should consider:
- Business Insurance
- General Liability Insurance
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Planning your welding business
The success of your start-up will rely on you creating a sensible business plan. Welding is a varied sector, so there are a range of niches you can specialise in.
You should organise your business around your personal expertise and provide clients with the services you are most skilled at.
- Heavy stainless-steel fabricating
- Aluminium welding
- Heavy haulage trailer manufacturing
- Steel construction fabricating
- Underwater welding services
Some businesses may choose to offer a broader range of services, and this can be useful at first for maximising opportunities. However, specialising within a field allows you to develop a unique selling point.
Conducting research to establish and understand your business’s target market is highly recommended. This will help you maximise demand and gain an edge over the competition.
Starting a mobile welding business
A mobile service is a great way to earn income as a small welding business. It gives you the ability to be versatile, and you’ll often be employed on a ‘when-needed’ basis.
This makes for profitable work, as clients will highly value your flexibility along with your expertise. For example, if a driver has damaged their car and requires a welder at short notice, they’ll often be willing to pay a marked-up price.
Keep in mind that, to start a mobile welding business, you’ll require a reliable van and a generator welder that can handle your workload.
Starting a welding side business
If you want to enjoy the freedoms that come with self-employment while still receiving a steady income from other work, starting a welding business on the side is another possibility.
To do this, you should focus on the work you enjoy doing most and that you’re most skilled at. This could be anything from creative metal sculptures to making bespoke furniture.
Alternatively, you may want to take on smaller welding repairs for local businesses and tradespeople.
Before you commit to setting up your side business, make sure to check the terms of your current employment contract.
As a skilled tradesperson, your reputation should be your bestselling tool, so a lot of your business may rely on word-of-mouth recommendations.
However, having an effective marketing strategy is vital for maximising opportunities.
Signing up to Checkatrade can open up your business to millions of potential clients every month and really boost your online presence. You’ll also benefit from free marketing materials and discounts on business essentials.
How to grow your welding business
After you’ve established your new welding business, the next step is growing your business by finding more customers and turning leads into real work.
Here are some of the best tried-and-tested ways to take your welding business to the next level.
1. Create an online presence for your welding business
These days, having an online presence is one of the best ways to build your business and generate more work.
Signing up to Checkatrade is one of the easiest ways to get your welding business discovered by millions of people online looking for tradespeople. Even better, it’s a great place to showcase your work, business credentials, and customer testimonials.
Having a Checkatrade profile can really boost your reputation as a local business. With the Checkatrade tick by your name, it makes your marketing just that little bit easier.
In fact, 8/10 people would choose a trade endorsed by Checkatrade, compared to one which isn’t*.
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2. Keep your website updated
Your company website is your online business card and it’s the first impression that most potential new customers will get from your welding business.
Give your website a thorough spring clean:
- Make sure all information on your website is up-to-date and accurate
- Check that all buttons and links work
- Read through every page to ensure that everything is easy to understand, with accurate spelling and grammar
- View your website on your phone to check it all looks good on the small screen
3. Get active on social media
Just like your website, your social media accounts are a great way to attract new customers.
Platforms like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok are super visual, so try and regularly upload high quality photos and/or videos of your latest welding jobs.
Our guide to social media marketing for small businesses might prove helpful for you.
Popular types of social media posts for welders include:
- Before and after photos of your welding work
- You and your team working
- Client testimonials
- Latest industry news that might be interesting to your customers
4. Welding business advertising ideas
There are a number of ways you can use advertising to drum up more business:
Pay per click (PPC) advertising – PPC ads appear at the top of search results in Google. They can be a great way to generate quality welding leads, and ultimately booking you more jobs. You might want to get the help of a local PPC specialist to get you started.
Register on Google My Business – Make the most of Google’s free listing service and start appearing in local search results for customers looking for welding businesses in your area.
Print marketing – The old school method of print marketing can still be a useful way of getting more customers to know about your business, such as advertising in the local paper or business directory.
Checkatrade members have the opportunity to feature in our leading trade directory, which is delivered to homeowners around the country.
5. Encourage customer reviews
Never underestimate the power of having a lot of positive online reviews for your business. Glowing feedback from customers helps shows the quality of your welding work and the service you offer.
After each successful welding job, ask your customers to leave a review (on Checkatrade, Google or other review platforms).
Joining Checkatrade means potential customers can see recommendations and feedback for your business, which can go a long way to building your online profile.
6. Get accreditations and certificates
Showing that your welding business is skilled and qualified will massively help when it comes to customers trusting you to do a good job.
If you haven’t already, look into getting ISO certification and UK welding certification BS EN 4872 parts 1 and 2.
7. Encourage recommendations and repeat business
A business is only as good as its reputation, which is built on great service. Happy customers are key to growing your welding business.
Deliver an excellent welding service and your customers are much more likely to recommend you, or hire you again. Focus your time and energy on doing a great job:
- Treat every customer with respect
- Respond quickly when customers contact you
- Stick to deadlines
- Leave your workspace tidy
- Be approachable at all times before, during, and after the job
8. Read our free guide all about marketing for trade businesses – it’s for founders like you!
Welding business FAQs
What license do I need to start a welding business?
To start a welding business, you’ll need to obtain the necessary business and trade licensing required by your local authority. These differ across the UK, so you’ll need to find the relevant licensing for your area.
How much does it cost to start a welding business?
It generally costs between £2,000 and £10,000 to start a welding business. However, it will depend on the size of the business and the services offered.
How much does a welder earn?
The average salary for a welder in the UK is £26,000. Going self-employed presents an opportunity to charge your own rates and offer highly valued services. As a result, you could earn even more.
Is a mobile welding business profitable?
Mobile welding businesses can be very profitable as they offer flexibility that larger firms may not be able to provide. This can make your service very much in demand.
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*Deep Blue Thinking 2021 Trade Perception Survey