Underwater welding involves highly sophisticated technologies and procedures, and underwater welder-divers face certain risks. Because of these factors the salary is generally very good. The underwater welding salary will vary if the welding is in a lake, river or the sea, but the basic range can be anywhere from $15,000 to $200,000 per year, and in some high risk cases, more.
Most welder-divers are paid according to the project, and the salary will change according to the work availability. Other factors that determine the salary are the diving method, the depth at which the diver needs to work and the diving environment.
There are two types of underwater welding including wet welding and dry welding. Wet welding takes place in the water itself. Dry welding or hyperbaric welding takes place in a pressurized, enclosed container which is a dry environment that is submerged underwater. The term underwater welding usually refers to wet welding.
Welder-divers are certified welders as well as certified commercial divers. They can perform tasks under the sea according to the Underwater Welding Code. They can perform both wet and dry welding as well as other kinds of surface welding.
A certified welder who has no commercial diving experience will be required to be trained in a recognized commercial diving school. This program usually takes two years and participants begin as apprentices or helpers for other divers. During this time, the welder must gain enough experience in both wet and dry welding to pass the qualification test for certification to be in compliance with the Underwater Welding Code.
Certified SCUBA divers need special certification to become commercial divers. The safe use of commercial diving equipment and offshore commercial environmental safety is not included in sport diving training. Sports divers need to train for commercial diving and commercial divers need to train for underwater welding. There are many schools that train sports divers and other students for underwater diving to the Association of Diving Contractors standards. There is no age limitation for underwater welder-divers, but there is an annual dive physical that should be passed. There are rarely welder-divers over 50.
The various types of underwater industrial requirements use different diving procedures. Jobs will be available according to the training and certification of a particular diver. Some conditions for the availability of work are supply and demand, the economics of a particular industry, and the flexibility of the welder-diver to relocate residence, sometimes overseas.
Some of the skills required for most underwater welding projects are:
• Underwater cutting
• Inspection and nondestructive testing underwater
• Rigging and fitting
• Underwater photography
• Pre-job planning
• Work with the inspectors of the completed job
Welder-divers will have the future opportunity to become Certified Welding Inspectors, underwater welding and commercial diving instructors, superintendents and supervisors for company or project management positions and become consultants for underwater welding companies around the world. Two of the main companies that use underwater welders are oil companies for the offshore drilling platforms and ship building companies.
Welder-divers are also expected to continue training to know and be able to meet the standards for underwater welds as they change with new technology, safety standards, inspection methods, welding criteria and environmental factors.
Underwater welding has become a very popular career opportunity that offers an excellent salary. Welder-divers who have a lot of experience and do dangerous work will receive the highest salary. Another factor that affects the salary is the remoteness of the location of the work and the long working hours. This may mean the divers are away from their families for several months at a time. Welder-divers can make from $450 to $1000 per day.