As a veteran, you have many qualities that few others in the workforce can match. Specifically, your determination, commitment, and vast experience with problem-solving make you unique. Because of these attributes, veterans are well-suited to get into the challenging yet rewarding career of underwater welding. This career path can be dangerous and the required commercial diving training for this profession is physically demanding. However, your military background has prepared you to dive into this exciting opportunity!
What is Underwater Welding?
Underwater welding is exactly that – welding underwater. It is important to note that no matter how familiar you might be with regular welding, performing this skill underwater is much different and more challenging. There are two different types of underwater welding that each have unique advantages and disadvantages. Each occurs in a variety of different circumstances, but a commercial diver must be certified to perform each type.
Types of Underwater Welding
Wet welding and hyperbaric (dry) welding are the two types of underwater welding.
Wet Welding: In this type of welding, the diver welds directly in the water. It involves using a specially designed welding rod. The process is very similar to ordinary welding on land. Some advantages are that this is a less expensive, quicker option, it offers high-tensile strength and there is more ease of access to the weld spot.
Hyperbaric/Dry Welding: In this type of welding, a chamber is sealed around the structure that is to be welded. The diver then fills the chamber with gas that forces the water outside of the hyperbaric sphere. This allows for a dry environment to weld. Advantages include more safety for the diver, better surface monitoring, and a higher quality of the weld.
Veterans & Underwater Welding: A Great Fit
To become an underwater welder, you will complete a commercial diving certification program. This program will include classes on how to be a commercial diver as well as train you in the specialty of underwater welding. Veterans, given their background and previous training and experience, are uniquely qualified for this challenge. Veterans have several fitting qualities and types of experience that make them a great fit for the job.
- Discipline. Commercial divers must exhibit a high level of personal discipline to think quickly if the job goes wrong. They must also work well under a chain of command. Failure to comply with your boss at a dive can make the same life-and-death difference as not following the direct orders of a commanding officer on the field of duty.
- Experience in life-threatening situations. Commercial divers are constantly put in these situations. Examples include exposure to hazardous materials, losing air supply, and experiencing pressure changes from deep-sea dives. Working well under pressure is something veterans are very familiar with.
- Experience with travel. Veterans are used to being away from home for long stretches of time. As a certified commercial diver and underwater welder, a contract can take you away from home for weeks or months at a time.
- Teamwork. To succeed underwater, you will need to rely on the expertise of multiple people every day. As you dive, you will rely on them and they will need to rely on you. This camaraderie will feel very familiar to veterans.
- Constantly learning. There is always more to be learned and perfected as a commercial diver. You will weld, inspect, repair, rig, and more. Veterans know how to stay on their toes, learn the necessary skills, and adapt to new situations as they come.
What is the Cost of Commercial Diving School?
The format and content of underwater welding programs can vary. As a result, the cost of each program varies, too. A program that provides the basic entry-level commercial diver certification will cost around $8,000. However, many schools provide a more extensive training curriculum that costs the student between $15,000 and $30,000.
Many commercial diving programs and underwater welding schools offer benefits to veterans. For example, at The Divers Insitute of Technology, a financial aid team handles post-9/11 GI Bill® paperwork every day. With this bill, active duty military and veterans attending DIT can receive up to $24,476.79 for tuition. At 100% eligibility students can receive up to $2,808 per month, which is paid directly to the student for Basic Housing Allowance. Students can receive up to $1,000.00 per academic year for books and supplies. DIT also waives the $50 application fee if the applicant is an active duty military or a veteran.
A reputable underwater welding school will have a financial aid team that can walk applicants through each step of the process. A VA-Certifying Official should also be available to applicants. This ensures all the financial details are clearly outlined and any questions that the applicant has can be answered.
What to Expect from Underwater Welding School
The welder is underwater, often at elevated barometric pressures. Performing this skill in these conditions is very challenging and requires specialized training. Due to the difficult conditions and fixed dangers associated with underwater welding, professionals train to rigorous standards.
The curriculum at every underwater welding school is different, which means that the training and education you receive will vary. Generally, you can expect to become familiar with different types of welding (see above) and how to perform them, as well as new tools and important safety measures. At each school, the courses they teach and how they teach them will vary. The duration of each underwater welding program will vary, too. A top-tier school will offer in-depth, real-world training, and have experienced staff teaching courses.
Before you choose an underwater welding school, make sure to vet all the aspects of the school. Check the website and review the course requirements. Reach out to staff and the prospective student point-of-contact with questions. If possible, speak to alumni from the school about their experience. With all of these resources at your disposal, you will feel more confident that the school you choose is a good fit for you.
Diver Institute of Technology: VA-Approved & Military-Friendly
The Divers Institute of Technology is a veteran-owned-and-operated diving school. Since 1968, the teachers and staff at DIT have taken pride in being a VA-approved school. We have also been designated as a military-friendly school. About half of our staff are veterans, and as a result, we understand the sacrifices you have made to better our country. Because of your selfless service, we take great pride in assisting you with your transition into the exciting world of commercial diving. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help you. You can also fill out an application here!
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