Underwater welding is a unique fabrication process that is used to join metals in an aquatic environment. Examples of underwater welding can be found in oil pipelines and ships, as well as in repairs to offshore oil platforms. It is estimated that a certified surface welder can expect salaries in the range of $100,000 to $200,000 per year with multiple opportunities for advancement and specialization.
A career in underwater welding is not for the faint of heart! To become a professional underwater welder involves undergoing rigorous training at an underwater welding school in Louisiana. Many of these courses involve intensive training in advanced diving, communication and welding.
Benefits of Attending an Underwater Welding School
Specialized professions, such as underwater welding, are in constant demand, regardless of the state of the economy. Graduates of Louisiana’s underwater welding school are able to find employment with a certification issued by the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA), which is the regulating authority of underwater welders.
A job in underwater welding is a truly rewarding experience that offers both excellent pay and the opportunity to travel. Recent graduates from an accredited underwater welding school are frequently recruited to high-paying positions in some of the most beautiful places in the world, such as Saudi Arabia and Australia. For those seeking employment outside of the U.S., an international certification is required to work in these exotic locations.
Entry-level underwater welders employed in Louisiana are expected to earn $55,830 annually. Salaries often vary, depending on the nature of the project and the work history of the welder. For example, divers with three to five years of experience are able to earn between $70,000 to $80,000.
Other factors, including depth, diving conditions and diving technique will also affect the rate of pay. Presently, Louisiana offers the second highest rate of pay in the United States for underwater welders, seconded only by California.
Requirements for Becoming an Underwater Welder
A career in underwater welding is not for the faint of heart. Not all divers are commercial divers, to become a commercial diver, the candidate must undergo rigorous training. Before a candidate can qualify as a commercial diver, they must first be able to demonstrate their knowledge in diver communication, underwater inspection and emergency procedures.
There are no age restrictions for this position, but underwater welders are expected to be in excellent health. This is to ensure that the divers are able to keep pace in this demanding profession, and to withstand the physical strains of diving. As a result, it is not unusual for certain employers to require applicants to complete a physical fitness assessment as a condition for employment.
The career opportunities for an underwater welder is limitless. Industry experts project that the need for skilled and qualified underwater welders will continue to increase, due to the highly specialized nature of the profession. Presently, the underwater welding industry hires young women and men between the ages of 18-38 for employment, particularly in offshore locations. Older welders, such as those over the age of 40 with experience in offshore welding, are able to retire to well-paid administrative positions, or they can easily find employment in the inland market.
Finally, underwater welders must obtain a welding ranking of AWS D3.6 standard. This level of specialization encompasses a wide variety of welding responsibilities that include preparation and welding set-up.
How to Find an Underwater Welding School in Louisiana
Potential candidates for underwater welding school should possess a strong mechanical aptitude, be in excellent physical condition and should have either a GED or a high school diploma. The ability to swim, a strong work ethic and an enthusiastic attitude are also great qualities to have.
Louisiana is home to the Louisiana Technical College, which is recognized by the Association of Commercial Diving Educations, and it is an internationally recognized underwater welding school. Presently, Louisiana Technical College is the state’s only vocational college that offers this specialization. Louisiana Technical College is a state-funded educational institution, and it features lower tuition costs than other commercial underwater welding schools.
For a complete listing of other accredited underwater welding schools in the U.S., please contact the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET)