Welding Rig Truck: Here’s How to Set It Up — The Ultimate Guide


When you first start out on your welding career path, you will want to get an apprenticeship person working under top-notch, experienced welders. These guys and gals can teach you so much. From enhancing your technique, giving you industry-related advice, to teaching you tips and tricks to help make your welds even better — they can give you it all.

To be completely honest, if you set up a welding rig straight out of school, you’re more than likely going to fail. So, work under professional welders first.

Having a great reputation, credibility, and the right tools before you start out on your own will go a long way to ensuring your success.

Once you have got an in-depth understanding of the industry, the techniques, and everything in between, you are ready to start out on your own.

Related reading: How To Start & Grow a Welding Business In 11 Steps

This is incredibly exciting. But be warned, it isn’t easy. As long as you look at the pros and cons, know the cost, and understand exactly how to go about it, then you’re good to go.

So, without further ado, shall we go over everything so you’re well-equipped to realize your dream?

How to Set Up a Welding Rig Truck

If you are just here to get answers for your burning questions, you’ll want to have a look at the bottom of the page first. But for the rest of you, this is where it’s at; you’ll find everything you need to think of and acquire before you can begin.

Here is how you can set up your welding rig truck:

1. Calculate the Cost

Like with anything in life, money comes into play. Trust us, we get it. It’s no fun and can be extremely disheartening but it is a necessary evil we’re afraid.

We have found that many newbies don’t truly understand just how pricey setting up a welding rig truck can be.

The equipment is expensive and the tools are expensive. And even if you find some “bargains” you won’t want to actually buy them. Why? Because you will be scrimping on quality. No one wants that.

Plus, there are some reoccurring costs to think about too. Things like electrodes constantly need replenishing after you have finished a job. Not to mention that your truck itself will need consistent maintenance and repairs somewhere along the line.

Oh, and you need to register your business and get yourself a good insurance policy.

Related reading: Is Welding Expensive? Breaking Down The costs

2. Buy or Modify Your Truck

For those of you who do not own a truck already, you will have to buy one. Yup, this is expensive and will be major a monetary setback in the beginning. 

However, if you do own a pretty decent vehicle then you won’t have to purchase a new one. You will probably have to modify it a lot to make it conducive to your endeavors.

This includes putting flags, radios, and air shutoffs in to name a few. Again, all of this will cost you a substantial amount of cash.

3. Gather Your Tools

The specific tools you choose to purchase really does depend on the type of welding you are going to be doing. However, there are some basic tools and equipment you will need for your truck so, for your convenience, we’ll list them here:

  • Weld machine (the brand is your choice, there are plenty of places online discussing the pros and cons of each brand)
  • Lighting systems (for the truck)
  • Air compressors (again, for the truck)
  • Pipe cutters
  • Saws
  • Pipe stand
  • Grinders (you should get a 7 inch and a 4 inch one, you can never have too many)
  • Porta-band
  • Chains
  • Clamps
  • Rigging tools (think slings, chokers and the like)
  • Come-a-longs
  • Barrel torches (you can get buy with a medium one but you are better off having a short and a long one too)
  • Hand torch
  • Weld leads (you will need 100 feet of ground, 100 feet of stinger, and 100ft of torch hose)
  • Regulators (for the torch hose)
  • Quick necks (so you can rapidly disconnect the torch hose and swap between hand and barrel torches)
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Spacing tools (you will want to buy a couple of them)
  • 2ft frames (have 2 of these as well)

They’re the basics but when you get a little more involved, you might want to gather the following:

  • Another short barrel hose
  • Jack stands (get 4 to 6)
  • Spirit levels (your best bet is to get a 4 foot, 2 foot, and a torpedo one)
  • Hole pins (a couple)
  • Center finder (Flange Wizard makes a really good one)

4. Register Your Business

We have found that people tend to overlook this part. It takes a lot more time (and money) than you would think. Although, if you like paperwork then you are in for a real treat.

Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Decide on your business name — even though you can “rebrand” and change this later down the road, you should really spend some time thinking about a name you will love forever. You run into all sorts of confusion when you try to switch things up so decide on a good one and stick with it.
  2. Pay the fee — this is the registration fee and can vary from state to state, country to country.
  3. Do the paperwork — as we briefly mentioned earlier, there are loads of documents that you will have to fill in. Essentially, it stops anyone else from nabbing your business name.
  4. Document processing — this bit is out of your hands. But once it is complete, you will be the proud owner of your welding rig business.

5. Network

Hopefully, you will have some contacts already. We have found that these connections come from working under super experienced welders before setting up your own shop. These guys can help you score your first several gigs so you can begin to build your reputation in the industry.

Having said this, you can use Google My Business and other social media platforms like LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to get the word out there too. For local jobs, you will really want to tap into Google My Business to build your network and win some jobs.

6. Be Safety Conscious

Don’t scrimp on safety. We will say it again for the people at the back — do not scrimp on safety. It is quite literally a life or death situation so don’t take any chances. Remember, it isn’t just you that could get hurt, it’s also the nearby pedestrians, workers, and properties.

Related Article: Personal Protective Equipment for Welders – PPE | List, and Requirements

In general, you should have the following personal protective equipment:

  • Clear lens goggles — these protect you from impact of flying debris and many professional welders wear them under their visor. 
  • Welding helmet — you should try to purchase one with an auto-darkening visor. This way, you won’t have to worry about the intense light that flings around from the arc. 
  • Respirator — not every welder wears one but it is best practice. It protects your lungs from the potentially deadly fumes that are typically around in this type of workplace.
  • Dark clothing made from leather, wool, or thick cotton — light can’t reflect off dark clothes and hurt your retinas. Plus, the aforementioned materials won’t melt or tear while you are working.
  • Flame-resistant gloves — don’t forget to buy the gauntlets too so you can protect your entire arm.

7. Perform Maintenance

As soon as you start to get a few jobs, you will realize just how much maintenance you have to do. We don’t only mean the truck. We are also talking about your welder and all the equipment on board.

To keep your maintenance schedule in order, make sure you write everything down!

8. Build Your Reputation

Working hard, being polite, and proving that you have a great work ethic will go a long way to build your credibility and ultimately, your client list.

You can’t buy a good reputation, you have to earn it. As soon as you break through into the industry, you will be there for life.

Experts Top Tips

Right, you now know how to set up your welding truck. How cool is that? But before we leave you in peace, we wanted to give you some tips and tricks to ensure you succeed.

Ready? Let’s go!

1. Give Yourself Rules

When you run your own business, no one is going to be breathing down your neck, telling you to get on with the job. So, you must give yourself rules that you will never break.

This way, you make sure that you stay on track and keep motivated to work at your best all the time.

2. No Distractions

Ensure your work zone is free from distractions. In this industry, distractions can be fatal.

Not to mention that you are far more likely to make mistakes that aren’t easily reversible, be late, and ultimately lose clients.

3. Be Organized

Since you are your own boss, you have to take accountability for all your actions and be prepared for every eventuality.

Make sure you keep your books in order, you track your invoices and keep all of your receipts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few common questions people often have about welding rig truck:

What Is Rig Welding?

What is rig welding? Rig welders are generally an all-purpose welder, trained to a high level in multiple welding disciplines. They work on offshore and onshore oil rigs (hence the name).

Since these guys are used as maintenance staff on said oil rigs, the welding jobs they usually face are simple. However, there are occasions when high-stakes situations occur where they need to bring their A-game to the job.

The main issue rig welders face is the hazardous environment they are stationed on. Explosions are ever so likely, which leads to many people going into the rig welding career becoming extremely stressed.

Thanks to the multitude of flammable substances, all the welding must be conducted under specific controlled conditions.

Usually, they adhere to “permit to work” codes and are qualified in welding within pressurized conditions (habitats where there is a consistent positive air pressure). It’s safe to say that there is a lot to this job.

Typically, they are confident in the following welding processes before they start rig welding:

  • GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) — a lot of the work will be done on pipes, so this is the main process performed on rigs. When dealing with Corrosion Resistant Alloys (referred to as CRA’s in the industry), they use this welding type for the whole weld, not just single-sided pipe welds.
  • SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) — when depositing fill and completing cap passes on pipes, this is the process used in rig welding. It is generally preferred when welding steel components too.
  • FCAW (Flux Cored Arc Welding) — when the job requires a lot of filler metal, this is the method rig welders use. Sometimes, they do not have this qualification since it’s rare that FCAW is performed in offshore environments.
  • Working with the following materials — carbon steel, ASS (Austenitic Stainless Steels), duplex stainless steels, super duplex stainless steels, nickel-based alloys, super austenitic stainless steels, copper-nickel, and titanium.

How to Become a Rig Welder?

To tell you the truth, it is mainly down to experience and a boatload of preparation. Of course, there are set standards that you need to hit in order to get there but if you go that extra mile, you are going to be flooded with rig welding opportunities.

It is vital that you are already a certified welder before you start applying for rig work. In fact, it’s even better if you gather some experience first. Why? Because working on rigs is hard enough without having to pick up the necessary skills while you’re there!

How to become a rig welder? If you haven’t yet acquired your welder’s certificate or you’re still in school, keep going. Having a general high school qualification won’t hurt, but the real success will come when you have graduated from an approved welding school. Don’t worry if school isn’t your thing, you can always do a welder’s apprenticeship instead.

Once you are all set with your certificate, by all means, apply as welder’s assistant on a rig. Usually, it will be relatively easy to pick up this work since hardly anyone wants to do it!

Not to mention that you’ll be able to acquire skills from experienced welders that you won’t learn in school.

In a lot of cases, contractors will pay for you to undergo the relevant safety training needed to work on offshore rigs. But not always.

If you can manage to pay for these qualifications yourself, you are a huge asset to employers. You will need to complete the following:

  • Helicopter Underwater Escape Training
  • First Aid
  • Offshore Survival Training

Yep, working on rigs (especially offshore) is dangerous. While you don’t have to take these courses, it will give you the skills and the confidence you need to survive if things go wrong. Plus, it’ll truly impress employers.

Related reading: 7 Easy Steps To Prevent Welding-Related Injuries

What Are The Pros and Cons of Being a Rig Welder?

There are plenty of benefits that come from being a rig welder, not least the amazing salary! But of course, what goes up, must come down so there are two sides to this career.

Let’s take a little look at both the positives and negatives of being a rig welder.

 The Pros of Being a Rig Welder

  • Earn a great salary (see below: “How Much do Rig Welders Make?”) — the exact figure varies from state to state. However, you can make an incredibly big and regular monthly sum from being a rig welder.
  • Boost your career — since welding is so technical and it requires a lot of skill to do it well, it is a fabulous way to keep your career going on an upward trajectory.
  • Job opportunities — even though we are talking specifically about rig welding, you can jump into so many industries when you have this skill.
  • Every day is different — the variety of jobs and the people you work with or for will be so different from each other. You never know what the day brings and that is all part of the fun!

Related reading: Do Welders Make Good Money? Highest Paying Welding Jobs

The Cons of Being a Rig Welder

  • The hours — you should be prepared to work weekends, get up incredibly early, and work during the night. Sometimes, your workday will be 12 hours long. This could harm you (lack of sleep, etc.) and your relationships if you are not careful.
  • Injuries — since you are working with extreme heat and molten metal, you are bound to sustain a few injuries during your time as a rig welder. Even if you take all the necessary precautions and wear bucket loads of PPE (personal protective equipment), something will go wrong eventually.
  • Environment — you’ll probably have to work outside in adverse weather conditions which won’t be too fun (unless you’re an adrenaline junkie, of course). You can’t be scared of heights or small spaces either, as it’s all part of the job.
  • Physically taxing — it’s likely that you’ll work in the same position for long periods of time which can harm your back, neck, and shoulders pretty quickly. Pay attention to the way you stand and how you carry materials, otherwise you’re looking at long-term injuries.

How Much Do Rig Welders Make?

As we mentioned briefly above, you can make a pretty hefty salary being a rig welder. Yes, it is largely down to the dangerous factors that come into play here but one could argue that it is more than worth it.

How much do rig welders make? Depending on the state you live (or work) in, you could be looking at a yearly income of around $101,000!

Obviously, this does not come easily (the starting salary is around $22,000). But, you can absolutely get there if you are dedicated, determined, and incredibly motivated.

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Mobile Welding Business?

Having enough cash is one of the main downsides to starting your mobile welding business — especially if you don’t already have a truck.

How much does it cost to start a mobile welding business? On average you will need between $10,000 and $30,000 depending on you starting situation. However, the tools can be incredibly expensive, and the truck just piles thousands of dollars on top of that. Not great if you don’t have a lot of savings.

Regardless, you do need to know how much it will cost you. Yes, it will be scary, but when there’s a will, there is always a way. 

To make it as easy as possible for you to calculate the costs, we have set up the below table pricing all the equipment you’ll need (and some extras if you want to get fancy):

Equipment requiredAverage Cost
Truck$20,000 (for a reliable one)
Weld machine with generator$250 (minimum)
Lighting systems$70
Air compressor$150
Pipe cutters$20
Pipe stands$150
7-inch grinder$50
4-inch grinder$35
Rigging tools (slings, chokers, etc.)$25
Barrel torches (a short and a long one)$240 and $500 respectively
Hand torch$60
Regulators (for the torch hose)$180
100ft of ground lead$385
100ft of stinger$200
100ft of torch hose$165
Tape measure$5
Spacing tools$35
Spirit levels (4ft, 2ft, and torpedo, optional)all three in a set for $45
Hole pins (optional)$65
Center finder (optional)$5

Please note: these costs are rough estimations. All the prices will vary depending on the brand, model, and even where you live.

As you have probably noticed, we are assuming that you already have the necessary safety equipment. If you do not own a welder’s helmet, gauntlets, gloves, steel-toed boots, and impact lenses, then you will need to invest in these too.

Related reading: +30 Must-Have Welding Tools & Accessories (Expert Poll)

How Much Do Welding Business Owners Make?

This is an incredibly difficult question to answer. Why? Because every welding business is different. Their owners live all around the world, never charge the same prices, and offer various types of welding. No two businesses are the same.

However, we will give you a general idea.

How much do welding business owners make? We have found that many established, experienced welding businesses can earn profits around the $85,000 mark every year. Really successful businesses are easily breaking six figures. So, yes, this is a lucrative industry. 

But setting up a welding business is not easy. It takes years of dedication and hard work to make the bucks. There are so many factors to consider, including:

  • Making a business plan — this allows you to plot the specifics and discover all the areas that you didn’t think about to begin with.
  • Buying the equipment — it is expensive because you do not want to scrimp on quality. Otherwise, you’ll be offering a budget service that you won’t want to be known for.
  • Working out the ongoing costs — if you are looking to make it big, you’ll have to hire people, this costs you.
  • Discovering your target market — you will need to figure out who your customers will be. No customers mean no money.
  • Figuring out how much to charge your customers — you don’t want to start off ridiculously expensive, but you don’t want to devalue your service either.
  • Naming your business — this is important. You will be known by this name. So make it count.
  • Establishing your business in the legal eye — this also costs money.
  • Registering for taxes — depending on your state, you might have to pay a whopping portion of your takings to the government.
  • Making a business bank account — don’t mix business with your personal things.
  • Gathering the right licenses — you’ll face a heavy fine or forced closure otherwise.
  • Getting insurance — this will protect you and your employees in a crisis.
  • Defining your brand — establishing your mission statement is important.
  • Setting up your website — essential in this day and age.

Related reading: How To Start & Grow A Welding Business In 11 Steps

What Insurance Do I Need for a Small Business?

Every small business needs insurance. But it can be hard to know which ones.

What Insurance do you need for a small business? Here are the top four insurances you should start with first: general liability coverage, workers’ compensation coverage, commercial property insurance, and business income insurance.

1. General Liability Insurance

This will protect your business if a person or property is harmed or damaged during your work. Alongside this, it will ensure you can be helped if any claims of slander are made against you.

2. Commercial Property Insurance

This is essential for your welding business. It will protect your property, tools, equipment, inventory, and furniture. Considering how much your tools will cost, you should always make sure they are protected.

3. Business Income Insurance

This will replace your lost income from wind damage, theft, fire, and other natural disasters or crimes.

4. Worker’s Compensation Coverage

Business income insurance is for your employees. If they are injured at work or they contract an illness from your working environment, it ensures they can claim certain benefits. This will help them pay for things like:

  • Disability benefits
  • Funeral expenses
  • Medical attention
  • Loss of funds (if they need time off work to fully recover)







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David Harper

David is the Co-Founder and Senior Editor at weldingtroop.com. David's an experienced fitter and tuner/welder who's passionate about helping others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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