Underwater Welding Jobs, Apprenticeships And Careers

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 welding involves trained commercial divers. They work underwater either in a contained dry environment or directly in the water.

jobsite for welding

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:

  • Onboard training to orient the employee to the company, what they do and the standards they maintain to ensure that employees and clients are treated in the best manner.
  • A mentor for on-the-job training to show the newly-hired underwater welder the specifics of the job, the equipment and the company’s method of doing things.
  • Appropriate equipment and tools to complete the welding operations.
  • Alcohol and drug testing to ensure a drug-free environment.
  • Continuous safety training.

While some employers may provide help in obtaining your diving equipment, most will expect you hire to provide your own.

underwater welding school

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 welding jobs require a high school diploma or GED plus technical and on-the-job training. For an underwater welder, employers also expect underwater welding certification, a commercial diving certification and successful completion of an apprenticeship

Employers look for 4 basic things when they are interviewing welders:

  • Understanding of common welding techniques tasks and tools.
  • Up-to-date welding, diving and underwater welding certifications acquired at an accredited school or program.
  • Ability to pass a diving physical.
  • Ability to pass a hands-on-test to demonstrate your skills.

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:

  • Following instructions. Underwater welders must be capable of receiving, understanding and carrying out instructions.
  • Critical Thinking. They must have critical thinking ability to be able to identify problems they may encounter in welding jobs.
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    Attention to Detail. Underwater welders have to undertake a lot of planning for an underwater dive operation to avoid hazards. In the water, underwater welders must be able to read dive tables, maintain and adjust the diving and welding equipment, and use the underwater welding equipment to make precise cuts and welds in metal.
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    Time management is essential to accomplish the work that needs to be done and avoid diving risks such as the bends.
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    Fitness for Duty. This job is very physical. It involves moving heavy objects, setting up equipment on a boat, pier or dock, inspecting the worksite and clearing debris.
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    Communication. An underwater welder is part of a team. He has to be able to communicate clearly with supervisors and team members above the water surface. That part of the team needs to know the condition of the work site, the health of the diver and any issues that arise.

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.

underwater welder apprenticeships

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.

Conclusion

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.

About the Author Gregory

Hi, my name is Gregory! I have been welding practically all of my life and love it. As I have gotten older I have started to weld less and less, so in order to continue my love for welding I created this website. I like to write about my experiences and help you all become welders. I hope that you enjoy the site!

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