Underwater Welder: Salary, Job Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an underwater welder. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling options, job duties and required certifications associated with this job to find out if it's the career for you.

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Essential Information

Underwater or offshore welders combine 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. There are two ways to become an underwater welder: complete a highly specialized program through the Commercial Diving Academy or independently be certified as both a commercial diver and a skilled welder.

Required Education Completion of the underwater welding specialist training program offered exclusively by the Commercial Diving Academy
Other Requirements Those who opt not to become an underwater welding specialist must hold both commercial dive certification and meet or surpass the AWS D3.6 standard in welding skills; excellent physical condition needed for this career
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 29.4% for commercial divers*
Median Salary (2013) $47,930 for commercial divers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salaries for Divers

Underwater welders work primarily on a per project basis. Things that can alter a salary projection include hazard levels, length of project and dive methods employed. Dive grade and employer 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 for commercial divers was $47,930 in May 2013 (www.bls.gov).

Job Duties

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
  • Drafting
  • 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.

Job Requirements

An underwater welder must be commercial dive certified. There are many schools that offer dive certification, but it's 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 has 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. 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 companies require that they pass physical exams. All underwater welders are required to keep their certifications current, which requires periodic examinations.

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