Underwater Welding: Training and Education Required

For those seeking information needed by those about underwater welding, the training and certification required is something that is not quite so easy to address. While the basic theory of welding is similar among all types of welding professions, the environment of welding underwater has many different specialized tasks and associated dangers. Depending on the region you reside in, you may be able to find underwater welding training programs to prepare you for this challenging career.

Underwater Welding Education and Certification Requirements

As with other types of welding training programs, underwater welding training requires that students are able to physically demonstrate the various techniques needed to become certified for specific types of welding. Once certification is achieved, welders must continue to use the skills to be able to keep certification current. Most welding certifications are maintained by being renewed every six months. If welders have not had fairly continuous work during the six months prior to re-certification,they may be required to retake the certification test.

Types of Jobs Available to Underwater Welders

What types of jobs are available in the maritime industry once a person has completed training and testing for underwater welding? Graduates of welding programs or apprenticeships can work on oil and gas rigs, on submerged portions of ships, on port facilities, on underwater pipelines, and the emerging industry of tidal electrical power generators. In addition, the military defense industry also trains and requires a large amount of work from underwater welders.

Basic Duties and Work Conditions of Underwater Welders 

Underwater welders generally repair damaged metal parts on the submerged sections of ships or other large sea vessels. War ships often require many welders during a time of active service. The efforts would be crucial to the war effort and to saving lives. Many underwater welders work on oil and gas rigs at sea. They live in any part of the country and are flown in to the rig by the oil company. They usually work shifts of 30 days on the rig and 30 days off. While on the rig, welders don wet suits to perform wet welding using electrodes. Hyperbaric chambers are used to help divers decompress in emergency situations and are also used by underwater welders to create a dry area in which to weld.

Special Training and Pay that Underwater Welders Receive

Underwater welders receive special underwater welding training because the job they do is much harder and a lot more dangerous than welding work done on land. The equipment that underwater welders must wear, including diving suits, breathing apparatus and safety harnesses can malfunction. Underwater welders can get a painful and sometimes lethal condition called "the bends" from being underwater too long and coming up too fast. The list goes on, however to offset the risks they are exposed to, underwater welders make the highest wages for this type of work, often in the six figures.

Advice for Welders Interested in Underwater Welding

For welders who wish to get trained in underwater welding techniques, the best course of action is to first get training in proper scuba diving and underwater work. Then contract with a training company approved by your regional welding association to get training that will ensure your safety as you learn the skills necessary to be an underwater welder. Once you've obtained the training, be sure to go through the certification process before accepting any work as an underwater welder. You'll soon be on your way to a rewarding and exciting career as an underwater welder.