Careers in Underwater Welding
Underwater welders are highly skilled professionals who are trained to weld pieces of pipe and other forms of metal together, in an aquatic setting. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, this profession is listed under the commercial diverse occupation and combines advanced welding skills with commercial diving qualifications.
Underwater Welder Jobs And Expectations
An underwater welder’s duties can vary from project to project; however, all welders are able to perform the following duties:
- Underwater cutting
- Underwater welding
- Inspection and some non-destructive testing
- Pipe fitting and rigging
While there are no age limitations to become a commercial diver with an underwater welding specialization, the industry looks for young men and women for employment. The preferred ages for offshore divers are between 18-38 while inland divers in good physical health may be able to work well into their 40s. A successful underwater welder must possess excellent interpersonal and communication skills to function effectively with their team. On average, underwater welders work 40 hours a week, with a large potential for overtime hours. Workers are frequently housed in company sponsored accommodations on the project site, and will only return to their homes on a biweekly or monthly basis.
Underwater welding careers are amongst the fastest growing professions in the trade vocational sector. Graduates of Florida’s underwater welding school enter the workforce with an international certification recognized by the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA), which is the international governing body for underwater welders. An international certification is required to gain employment anywhere else in the world. As of December 30, 2011, the average expected salary for a commercial diver employed as an underwater welder is $56,400 annually.
Salaries may vary greatly depending on the level of experience of the welder and the nature of the project. In addition, other factors such as diving conditions, depth and dive method will also affect the rate of pay. An entry level offshore diver/tender is approximately $45,000 to $60,000, while divers with 3 to 5 years of experience may earn between $75,000 to $150,000.
An entry level inland/coastal diver earns approximately $40,000 to $50,000, while divers with 3 to 5 years experience may earn $70,000 to $80,000. Exact figures will vary depending on location, specialization and employer. Job location also plays a crucial role in an underwater welder’s salary. The following states are in the top five for offering the highest median salary for the position:
- California – $76,500 per annum
- Louisiana – $55,830 per annum
- Texas – $55,450 per annum
- North Carolina – $45,890 per annum
- Florida – $44,420 per annum
Requirements for Becoming an Underwater Welder
Presently, there are no age limitations for this occupation; however, underwater welders are expected to be in excellent physical condition. Oftentimes, it is not uncommon for certain companies to incorporate a physical fitness component to their hiring practices. All underwater welders must be commercially certified to dive. There are many forms of diver certification, but only commercially certified divers are permitted to work as underwater welders.
In order to qualify as a commercial diver, a candidate must be able to demonstrate their mastery of various skills. This includes underwater inspection, diver communication, and emergency procedures, as well as, a possessing an advanced knowledge of diving. Underwater divers with a welding specialization must have welding skills ranked at AWS D3.6 standard. This level of qualification encompasses a wide range of abilities, including welding set-up and preparation.
How to Find an Underwater Welding School in Florida
A combination of either a high school diploma or GED, a strong mechanical aptitude, the ability to swim and excellent physical condition is required for admission into underwater welding schools in Florida. Florida is home to some of the top underwater welding schools in the world. When searching for an underwater welding school, make sure to find a school which is federally accredited, provides the opportunity for international certification, and offers additional accreditation.
When selecting an underwater welding school, ensure that the school is federally accredited and provides the opportunity to obtain an international certification.
For a full listing of accredited underwater welding schools in Florida, contact the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET) .