When you see the structures built in the waters of rivers and seas, it looks nothing less than a marvel. There are many brave hearts behind those marvels, and underwater welders are one of the crucial and important links among them.
For people who seek adventure in their work, underwater welding can be one of the options. This profession is full of adventure, and you have the scope to work at new places; however, you must have sound health and willingness to take risks. An experienced and skilled underwater welder can command high remuneration.
How much do underwater welders make?
As per various sources and discussions with underwater welders, the annual salary of an underwater welder can range from USD 20,000 to 100,000, and the top 10% of underwater welders may command an annual salary of up to USD 300,000.
The annual salary of an underwater welder depends on his/her skill level, maximum depth of dive, employer and location of work, and the number of days of work per year. Underwater welders cannot work throughout the year, depending on health and availability of work. The number of workdays per year will vary and hence the salary also varies.
The career of an underwater welder
An underwater welder has professional training in welding and commercial diving; the latter (commercial diving) is more important. Underwater welders undergo vigorous training in diving and associated areas. You may not get the job of a professional underwater welder as soon as you complete your course; you may have to start as an apprentice and work your way up while improving your expertise. Many experienced underwater welders become instructors, consultants, and engineers in the area of underwater welding.
Since an underwater welder has certification in commercial diving, along with underwater welding, he/she can become proficient in other skills such as underwater salvage, underwater rigging, pipeline welding /repair, and the operation of underwater tools (hydraulic drills, chainsaws, etc.). This makes them versatile and always keeps them on the job.
You might also like to read: The Last Guide To Underwater Welding You Will Ever Need
How to become an underwater welder?
If you have an aptitude for mechanical work and an inclination to take the profession of an underwater welder, you can take the following steps. You must have completed your high school diploma and should be good at swimming (if you are not better, learn it!).
Visit the reputed schools’ website for underwater diving and underwater welding and view the medical certification required. Take a print of the requirements and visit a doctor to see if you clear the requirements. Usually, good eyesight, no illness concerning the heart and lungs, and general good health are expected. Also, you should be young.
Once you are declared medically fit for pursuing a career in underwater welding, the next step is to find a good and affordable institute. Check your budget and time. When you research a good institute for underwater welding, keep the following in your mind:
- Course duration and certification you will receive at the end of the program. The certificate must have international validity, and you will be able to work anywhere in the world.
- How are the instructors who teach you about underwater welding? Read and study about their credentials and their practical experience.
- Do they have in-house and at the river and sea facilities for practical training?
- What is the fee structure, and do they have scholarships?
- Do they have a placement program? If so, what is the percentage of placement in the last five years?
Select a school that teaches and makes you a professional commercial diver and underwater welder. It would be best to take tests to get yourself certified as an underwater diver and an underwater welder. The tests will be different for each. You can choose to learn wet welding or dry welding, or both.
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and American Welding Society (AWS) have made standards ANSI/AWS D3.6 to test and certify underwater welders in wet welding or dry welding or both. You need to take this test (or an equivalent test in your country or your school’s place) to get yourself certified as an underwater welder. Please ensure that the certification is recognized internationally since you may have to work in different countries.
If you are already a certified commercial diver, you can approach a commercial diving company (who deals with underwater welding) to help you learn underwater welding and get yourself certified. You can join as an apprentice.
Apart from the diving skills, which are a must for an underwater welder, you can have one or more of the following skills.
- Underwater welding (dry or wet, or both).
- Underwater cutting (oxy-fuel, or mechanical cutting).
- Inspection and nondestructive testing (NDT).
- Underwater photography and video.
Related article: Underwater Welding Death Rate
Underwater Welding Courses
What are the best underwater welding schools?
Underwater welding is a very competitive field, and the best way to land an excellent job as an underwater welder is to get trained in a good school that has a good record of helping their students to get a placement.
You must select a school with good Accreditation and Certification, excellent and experienced instructors, economic and fits your pocket, optimum course duration, and have a good record of placements. It is preferred to find a school in your own country or another country nearer to you and affordable. The following are some of the schools you may explore.
1. The Ocean Corporation, Houston, Texas, USA
This school was established in 1969, has over 10000 alumni members, and has a reputation among the top employers. The course offered by The Ocean Corporation has a duration of about 30 weeks. For more details, visit their website.
2. Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, California, USA
This college has an underwater welder program, with a duration of about 32 weeks leading to the Skill Competency Award in Commercial Diving. For more details, visit their website.
3. International Diving Institute, North Charleston, South Carolina, USA
This school has different diving programs added with a separate underwater welding course. For more details, visit their website.
4. Canadian Working Divers Institute, Morpeth, Canada
This institute trains you to become a Certified Unrestricted Surface-supplied diver and has a 12 weeks program of rigorous training (6-7 days a week and 12 hours a day). You may have to approach an underwater welding company, after the certification, for an apprentice job. For more details, visit their website.
5. Professional Diving Academy, Dunoon, United Kingdom
This school has underwater diving courses and an add-on skill course for underwater welding. For more details, visit their website.
6. Commercial Diving Academy, Australia
This school is a good place to learn commercial diving, and they have a very good graduate placement record. However, to become an underwater welder, after getting the certification in commercial diving, you have to join a company working in the field of underwater welding. For more details, visit their website.
7. KBA Training Centre Pte. Ltd, Singapore
KBA has Inland/Inshore Commercial Diver Training (Level I and II) which can be completed in 40 working days. KBA has an option for those qualified with Inland/Inshore Commercial Diver Training (Level I and II) to opt for further four-week training in Scotland, UK, to become a qualified Offshore Commercial Diver. KBA does not train you in underwater welding; however, with the certificate of Offshore Commercial Diver, you can join a company dealing with underwater welding as an apprentice. For more details, visit their website.
Underwater welding has good scope and opportunities. With the right skills, you can have a promising career as an underwater welder, and in later stages, as an instructor, engineer, and manager. However, keeping yourself in good health and safe is very important.
The profession of underwater welder has many threats, and data shows a higher ‘underwater welder death rate’ and low ‘underwater welder life expectancy’ compared to other professions. However, there may not be any profession without the associated risk. The risk in the case of an underwater welder should be managed by strict enforcement of safety measures. The profession of underwater welder may stay as long as an economically viable robot with all the skills of an underwater welder is not invented by us!!!