Deep-sea development continues to advance. Areas of growth include pipelines, oil & gas exploration and marine infrastructures such as bridges, docks, platforms, tanks and the like.
The need for advanced underwater construction and repair procedures has created a demand for highly-skilled underwater welders trained to work in this environment.
Underwater welding jobs can require years of specialized training and on-the-job apprenticeship. This may involve a significant investment in certification programs and diving equipment.
But a career in Underwater welding can command very lucrative salaries and pay rates and offer travel and adventure around the world.
Where Jobs Are Available
Underwater welders can work a number of different jobs, including as trained commercial divers. They work underwater either in a contained dry environment or directly in the water.
Underwater welders work in construction, inspection, repair, salvage and surveying in many different industries. Jobs are available both inland locally and offshore globally.
Inland underwater welding jobs typically are located at lakes, rivers, ponds, dams, locks and canals. These jobs can work on small vessels, dams, canals or docks.
Offshore underwater welding jobs typically are located in the ocean. Work may involve oilfield rigs, shipbuilding and repair. You might work in other types of offshore construction, maintenance and repair.
Another area is nuclear power facility construction, maintenance and repair. There’s also mining operations and pipelines, military ship maintenance and repair, dredging and cable installation.
What Makes For A Good Welding Employer
Any reputable employer should be expected to provide stable employment at a fair wage with health and other benefits. It should be an environment where the newly hired welder can learn about and do their job.
Many employers will provide:
While some employers may provide help in obtaining your diving equipment, most will expect you hire to provide your own, which isn't cheap.
Equipment typically includes your wet suit, weight belt, gloves, coveralls, dive knife, and a 5-point harness with leg straps.
What Employers Look For
Most underwater welding jobs require:
- high school diploma or GED
- technical and on-the-job training
- underwater welding certification
- a commercial diving certification
- successful completion of an apprenticeship
Employers look for 4 basic things when they are interviewing welders:
Once you have passed the interview screening and are invited up for a face-to-face job screening, the employer may have you meet with some of the people that you will be working with and those that will be supervising you.
Many of those people will be experienced commercial underwater welders. They will be looking for evidence of a more specific skillset.
Some crucial characteristics include:
Underwater Welder Apprenticeships
To become a certified Underwater Welder, one must possess both welding and diving skills. An underwater welder must first receive formal welding education from an approved school. Approval comes from the American Welding Society.
It is also necessary to complete a commercial diver’s certification/licensing program. Some underwater welding training programs include commercial diver training and certification as part of their program. The candidate has to complete a formal underwater welding training program.
After successful completion of the programs, many training schools help with job placement as an apprentice. If not, commercial diving contractors looking to hire underwater welders will also offer apprenticeships.
The advantage of an apprenticeship is that you receive on-the-job training. You’ll be working with experienced underwater welders who will teach you the tricks of the trade.
As an apprentice, you will be known as a diver “tender.” You’ll assist the diver before, during and after the dive. The diver tender works with the team to review dive plans, depths and the entire operation. You’ll also be part of practicing emergency dive procedures.
Tenders help the diver get into their wet suit and breathing apparatus. They’ll also help the diver put on the rest of their equipment such as the emergency gas canister, welder’s knife, underwater welding electrode or cutting torch.
During the dive, the tender remains above the water working directly with the diver in the water monitoring their air supply, gas gauges, body temperature, location and equipment. The tender stays in constant communication to help troubleshoot.
Due to the amount of training required to enter this profession, underwater welding is a highly-specialized field.
While the rigors of the job can be quite demanding, underwater welding can be very lucrative and career opportunities are unlimited. Many underwater welders move up to supervisory and management positions as well.
The evolution of deep-sea development and infrastructure will continue to require highly-skilled workers. As such, underwater welders will continue to be in demand.