Becoming an underwater welder is a career path that requires a broad range of skills. It is a very physically demanding job with a high degree of technical complexity. As a result, the industry has high standards for underwater welders and requires more complex technical specifications, detailed safety protocols, better inspection methods, and other considerations. To meet these high industry demands, underwater welding training is required. If you’re interested in welding, it can help to know a little more about what your future career underwater could look like.
Underwater welding training breakdown
The most important parts of underwater welding pertain to the preparation that builds up to the welding itself. This means that in addition to being certified as a welder, you must also be certified as a commercial diver. Generally speaking, the specific training for welding underwater typically happens several months into a commercial dive training program.
First, you will master all of the basics of commercial diving, the necessary tools and equipment, and safety protocols. Then, you will learn to weld topside. This means welding above the water. All comprehensive training programs will include this basic welding training to ensure you know how to use the tools. Finally, you will then learn to weld underwater to the AWS D3.6 Underwater Welding Code, which all contractors will require.
What tools are used in underwater welding?
You’ll become familiar with many new tools during your training.
- Topside, you’ll use the electrode holder, chipping hammer, wire brush, 6010 electrodes, 7018 electrodes, the oxy-fuel rig which consists of a striker, and a smith torch, as well as basic hand tools like grinders and wire wheels.
- In the water, you’ll use twist-lock electrode holders, chipping hammers, wire brushes, 7014 electrodes, and Broco exothermic torches.
What special skills are necessary?
There are two types of underwater welding: wet and dry. In the wet welding method, divers work on the welding directly in the water. In the dry method, divers work in a dry enclosure within a pressurized chamber.
The following types of welding are helpful to be successful as an underwater welder.
- Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW)
- Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW)
- Gas metal arc welding (GMAW)
- Plasma arc welding (PAW)
- Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW)
What happens after training?
Typical commercial dive programs are seven months to complete. After your training, you will be hired as an underwater welding tender. In this position, you “tend” to the needs of an underwater welder on the job. On average, people stay in this position for a few years, learning from more experienced divers and welders. Then, after this experience and after obtaining the necessary certifications, you’ll be ready to launch your career as a fully qualified underwater welder.
Am I a good candidate for underwater welding training?
Underwater welding training is a typical part of commercial diving training. So, to be an eligible candidate for commercial dive training, there are a few basic requirements. As a result, the following is a list of those requirements to start the required training.
- 18 years of age or older upon graduation of the program
- High school diploma, transcript or GED
- Proficient in English speaking, reading, and writing
- ADCI dive physical
- Ability to swim 400 meters unassisted
- Ability to obtain a TWIC card
- Completed application to the institution of your choice
Having some experience with welding prior to this training can help you but is not necessary.
How much money does an underwater welder make?
The salary of an underwater welder varies depending on many factors. Some of the variables that will determine a welder’s salary include the following.
- Previous experience
- The location of the dive
- The depth of the dive
- The employer
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, commercial divers and underwater welders have a mean (average) hourly wage of $32.26, while the mean annual wage is approximately $67,100.
Additionally, the top percentile (90%) can make approximately $119,830 or more.
Divers Institute of Technology & Underwater Welding
At DIT, we provide divers with the knowledge and skills required to be successful as an entry-level commercial diver, whether employed domestically or internationally. DIT offers you the underwater welding training you’ll need as well as the specialized programs necessary to work in the underwater construction industry. Our underwater welding training includes welding, underwater welding, underwater cutting and burning, and more. This means that our graduates are better positioned to enter the workforce with the right education, industry connections, and real-world experience necessary to succeed. Learn more today! You can also fill out an application here.
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