Underwater Welder Career Facts

An underwater welder is a professional who does the welding work on structures which are submerged, in water, or are underwater. Underwater welding is one of the important technologies used for repairing marine structures. Underwater welders should have good diving skills and a certification for carrying out welding work. Welders who want to start career as an underwater welder should begin by taking commercial diving training. The Association of Commercial Diving Education has a list of schools that are spread throughout the country that offer the best courses.

Work Overview

There are three main types of underwater welding techniques, namely - Wet Underwater Welding, Coffer Dam Welding and Hyperbaric Welding. When you complete underwater welding, a manual metal arc is used for welding. In Coffer dam welding, the welding work is done in a dry steel structure that is sealed against the structure that is to be welded. Hyperbaric welding uses a gas filled chamber that is fitted against the structure to be welded. Companies that  specialize in underwater construction conduct their own qualification tests to select the best talent. Before you apply for job, prepare yourself and practice your skill set.

After getting on-the-job training, you must complete the certification exam to comply with the AWS D3.6 standards. Then, you will be assigned underwater welding functions. The job also physical strength and stability. Underwater welders are required to go through an annual diving test and is a mandatory requirement because the job can be dangerous.

Daily Tasks

  • Get a job list from your employer.
  • Prepare the setup and diving equipments.
  • Align the materials and functions like beveling, stripping of concrete, fitting a steel patch or repairing and welding parts underneath.
  • Assist the diving contractor to prepare the job plan.
  • Install, or inspect the completed welds.

Skills Required

  • Good diving skills.
  • Knowledge to perform welding jobs in accordance to AWS D3.6 standard and other welding functions.
  • Must also know about the physiology involved in diving, safety measures, underwater environment and communication.
  • Knowing about underwater cutting, fitting or rigging, nondestructive testing, drafting and underwater photography are added advantages.

Earning Potential

The highest paid underwater welder gets an annual salary exceeding $100,000. But this is only for those who are highly experienced. Inexperienced underwater welders earn more of salary of somewhere around $15,000. Apart from work experience, diving depth, environment and diving methods also play a pivotal role in deciding the pay rates.

Career Advancement

Most welders gain sufficient experience to begin to teach or train others. Few welders become engineers or supervisors or move up to take up administrative positions. The best way to move up is to be trained in many different types of welding work. After a few years it is a good idea learn a new skill set.