Underwater Welder: Salary, Job Duties and Requirements
An underwater welder or offshore welder is in an elite career choice, combining commercial diving qualifications with welding skills normally performed on dry land. Underwater welders must be able to handle bulky equipment specially designed for this job while working in a hazardous environment.
Salaries for Divers
Due to the number of factors surrounding this profession, salary information isn't easily generalized for all underwater welder situations. Underwater welders work primarily on a per project basis and things that may alter a salary projection include hazard levels, length of project and dive methods employed. Dive grade and employers are also key factors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does include welding as a task for commercial divers, and reports that the median wage in 2009 for commercial divers was $52,540 (www.bls.gov).
Job Duties for Underwater Welders
Underwater welders work with a variety of equipment types and procedures. A list of duties all welder-divers should be able to perform includes:
- Underwater cutting
- Underwater photography
- Inspection and non-destructive testing
- Fitting and rigging
Some underwater divers assist the project manager in project planning. The welder must have good communication skills and interpersonal skills to work well with the rest of the team.
An underwater welder must be commercial dive certified. There are many schools that offer dive certification, but it is important to note that commercial dive certification is different and substitutions cannot be made regardless of experience level. To qualify for this certification, a diver will have to demonstrate skills in diver communication, diving physiology and emergency procedures, underwater inspections, hyperbaric chamber operations, and the use of various commercial grade tools.
Welder-divers must possess welding skills ranked at AWS D3.6 standard. This encompasses such abilities and knowledge as weld set-up and preparation skills. Many educational facilities offer welding courses approved by the American Welding Society. In addition, an underwater welder will gain valuable knowledge by becoming an underwater welding specialist. The Commercial Diving Academy is the only school in the United States that offers internationally recognized training for this specialization.
There are no age limits for this occupation, but underwater welders must be in good physical condition. Many are required to pass physical examinations for companies. All underwater welders will be required to keep their certifications current, which requires periodic examinations.
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