10 Best Underwater Welding Schools In The US

Diving and welding schools are the fastest-growing segments of the tertiary education industry. Commercial diving is becoming an increasingly popular profession, and many people are looking to the field of underwater welding as a means of supporting themselves and their families. But just because there’s plenty of work available doesn’t mean you can become an underwater welder by training yourself on your own.

You’ll need to attend a specialized school that has both the necessary equipment for your job as well as experienced and highly-trained instructors who can teach you the skills you’ll need in this exciting new career path. To protect yourself and others from worksite hazards, you need to be trained and certified in the safe operation of a welding tool.

A hyperbaric welder, for example, must complete specialized training in hyperbaric welding safety, underwater welding process safety, and the safe use of an oxygen breathing apparatus.

In this guide, we discuss the best underwater welding schools as well as the danger that comes with the profession. To learn more about hyperbaric welders and discover how to become one, continue reading.

What is Underwater Welding?

Underwater welding is a specialized type of welding that uses no protective barrier between the arc of an electric arc welder and the water. It is usually used for deep-water welding, where high-strength welds are required. 

Types of underwater welding

Dry welding

Dry welding — which is also called hyperbaric welding — is a technique used in underwater construction that employs a dry habitat, or hyperbaric chamber, to shield the welder from the water.

This process involves creating a seal around the structure to be welded and connecting hoses to remove the water from the dry habitat. The water is then replaced with a pressurized mixture of helium and oxygen.

When the pressure within the habitat reaches equilibrium with the water pressure outside of it, the welder can begin working. There are four methods of dry welding: 

1. Dry spot welding is a technique used in the building of balloon-sized, see-through
habitats. The welder inserts an electrode into the habitat, which forms a seal around it. 

2. Habitat welding creates a room-sized, underwater environment in which welders can work while submerged in water. 

3. Pressure welding, a technique in which the pressure vessel is pressurized to one atmosphere, is appropriate for welding in pressure vessels. 

4. Dry chamber welding involves an air-tight “chamber” that covers only the worker’s head and shoulders. He enters the chamber from the bottom. 

Wet welding

Wet welding is a process used by welders in environments where there is water, such as marine settings and oil rig construction, or other damaging factors, such as oxygen.

Unlike dry welding, where many processes are suitable, wet processes are primarily limited to shielded metal arc (SMAW), also called stick.

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In this process, the weld usually relies on direct current (DC) because alternating current (AC) creates electromagnetic fields that attract contaminants to the weld pool. Precautionary measures are especially necessary for these situations.

The worker should keep their electrodes clean and ensure that there are no obstructions and hazards in the area before they start the weld. Welding underwater can be a dangerous task.

A diver will place the electrode on the target surface area and then signal his or her team to start a direct current, which generates 300 to 400 amps of electricity.

Wet welding is often used as a last resort because it is more dangerous and water tends to cool down the weld too quickly, increasing the risk of cracking. 

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Dangers in Underwater Welding Fabrication

Explosion

Oxy-cutting, a common underwater cutting process, requires the use of high volumes of oxygen. When this oxygen mixes with hydrogen gas, a dangerous explosive mixture is created.

This mixture could ignite if an arc or spark reaches it; therefore, the team should conduct a risk assessment before carrying out an underwater operation and should flush void spaces with inert gas. 

Electrocution

Electricity and water are a potentially dangerous combination. During wet welding, when electricity is introduced to water, the chance for electrocution is high.

To mitigate the risk of electric shock, the welder should use DC electricity instead of AC, all equipment should be tested thoroughly before a weld is authorized, and ongoing training should be mandatory.

Additionally, a ground fault should be placed accurately that runs into the earth’s surface to direct excess current away from the worksite and into the ground. 

Decompression

Decompression sickness – also known as “the bends” – occurs when bubbles of nitrogen gas form in the bloodstream.

To reduce the risk of decompression sickness, divers should ascend slowly and not exceed a depth of ten meters per minute.

If they plan on diving more than once a day, they should start with the deepest dive first.

Divers should be in the excellent physical condition and schedule regular medical checkups and proper training to mitigate the risk of decompression sickness. 

Hypothermia

If a scuba diver spends too much time in cold water, hypothermia can occur. This can result in metabolism issues and even organ failure. To prevent this, divers should wear a well-insulated wet suit that retains body heat.

The time spent underwater should also be limited. Professional training will help divers cope with colder temperatures to prevent hypothermia.

The company should have necessary safety protocols in place. 

Drowning

When a diver descends into the water, the pressure of the water around them increases. This causes a difference in pressure, which forces water to flow from high-pressure areas to low-pressure areas.

Variable force may result in blocked lungs and a need for CPR, but in some cases, differential pressure produces no ill effects at all.

For example, when divers are repairing the wall of a dam, there is nothing to worry about.

The most important thing is to make sure that everyone on the team has had professional training. 

 

10 Best Underwater Welding Schools in The US

Welding is one of the crafts that can be learnt in a trade school. See the 15 Best Trade Schools in Florida in 2022

1. Minnesota Commercial Diver Training Centre

The Minnesota Commercial Diver Training Centre is located in Brainerd, Minnesota, the heart of ten thousand lakes country and is recognized for its hands-on open water training in the Cuyuna Mine Pits in Crosby/Ironton.

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This is where students learn the use of equipment and protocol with a curriculum that emphasizes physics, physiological factors, safety protocols, equipment functioning, and seamanship fundamentals.

Aspiring students can contact the school for information about job placement services for graduates. 

2. Divers Institute of Technology

Located in Seattle, Washington, the Divers Institute of Technology (DIT) is a veteran-owned and operated school that offers commercial diving training.

DIT claims to train students on all aspects of diving to create safe professionals.

The institute trains students through three weeks of intensive hands-on training, which consists of dives up to 165 feet with practice in the lake surrounding DIT’s campus.

Each course begins with a three-day classroom session followed by two weeks of welding training over 40 hours per week. Students are taught how to weld T joints during their very first week. 

3. National University Polytechnic Institute

The National University Polytechnic Institute, which is known for its working relationship with the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum of Art, is located in San Diego, California.

It offers comprehensive and affordable commercial diving courses taught by industry experts.

The underwater welding school is integrated with a commercial diving program, and this dual training will help you become adept in your work environments, expanding your career horizons.

The program for commercial diving and underwater welding will provide you with all the necessary certifications for a career in underwater welding.

Actual training in underwater welding happens in the last four weeks of the commercial diving course and trains you to pass the Welder Performance Qualification with ease.

This program trains you for diversified technical work underwater and buttresses your ability to handle key equipment. 

4. Santa Barbara City College

Santa Barbara City College was established by the Santa Barbara High School District in 1909, and it is located in Santa Barbara Mesa in California.

The college offers a marine diving technology course to train high-quality commercial divers and marine technicians. After completion of the course, students are awarded industry-recognized certifications post long periods of training under world-class instructors.

Students are trained on the safe use of equipment, including welding gear. The college’s career center organizes workshops and job fairs to allow students to explore opportunities like those found at other community colleges. 

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5. South Central Louisiana Technical College

South Central Louisiana Technical College in Morgan City provides 90 clock hours of top-side and underwater welding in an entry-level course that emphasizes practical experience in hyperbaric welding applications both inland and offshore.

The curriculum includes a cutting and welding lab featuring underwater training sessions for topside welding and oxy-acetylene cutting, while students are trained to handle welding equipment and given extensive training in working on ship engines.

Students can seek vocational careers immediately after graduating, and the college is also approved by the US coast guard for marine licensing. Given such high certification standards, jobs after graduating from this college are easier to come by. 

6. The Ocean Corporation

The Ocean Corporation is a leading provider of commercial diving and offshore welding services since 1969.

The institute offers courses in offshore oilfield diving operations, surface and underwater welding, and underwater cutting for students looking for employment in the nuclear power industry and at dams.

Houston is a particularly appealing destination for job seekers. 

This is one of the best underwater welding schools in the US.

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7. Hydroweld the USA

Hydroweld USA, a division of Hydroweld Ltd., is located in Weston, Florida. An experienced leader in the underwater welding industry, Hydroweld offers training programs for companies and individuals interested in underwater welding.

Programs are offered at both the company’s facility in Florida and client sites throughout the world.

The fully equipped training facility is available to clients for training courses or testing of new equipment. 

8. Commercial Diving Technologies Institute

The Institute is a training facility that was created to help divers with careers in the offshore oil and wind industry, pipeline construction, and underwater welding.

The course maintains strict standards as set by the Association of Diving Contractors.

It prepares students for diving careers and trains students to be able to weld underwater, both
onshore and off. 

9. CDA Technical Institute

CDA Technical Institute is located in Jacksonville, Florida. It provides training for underwater welders at all international standards. It also has a tank for training as well as the Trout River for practical skills.

The program is held in close association with leading industry players and is fairly rigorous and extensive. 

10. International Diving Institute

The International Diving Institute (IDI) offers a variety of specialties and training courses. The institute’s 2-week, 8-hour commercial diving course is designed for divers looking to become certified underwater welders.

With a focus on technical skills and professional development, the IDI believes in providing students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for future employment. 

This is the last underwater welding schools in the US.

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Frequently asked questions about underwater welding schools in the US

Where is the best underwater welding school?

  • The Ocean Corporation 
  • South Louisiana Community College 
  • Commercial Diving Tech Institute 
  • CDA Technical Institute 
  • International Diving Institute 
  • Divers Academy International 
  • Hydroweld USA. Check out their website 
  • Santa Barbara City College 

Is Underwater Welding School worth it?

Underwater welding is an expensive prospect on its own but paired with your other courses, it’s worth the investment. Welder-divers receive a nice salary for overtime, saturation diving, and a variety of other factors. 

How hard is underwater welding school?

Underwater welding requires a great amount of skill, as it is a very physically demanding job with a high degree of technical complexity. Many welder-divers go on to become engineers, diving instructors, and diving operation supervisors. Additionally, many also go on to fill management and consulting positions 

Why do welders drink milk?

So why do welders drink milk? The fumes released when welding, cutting, or brazing galvanized steel can cause a condition known as Metal Fume Fever.

The thought is that milk helps the body rid of toxins encountered when welding galvanized steel and thus prevents them from getting sick. 

Conclusion

Commercial diving and underwater welding are both rewarding careers with many professional opportunities. If you wish to work in these fields, you must be certified by a reputable organization and earn a college degree.

More than ten schools across the U.S. offer programs in commercial diving and underwater welding.

The schools listed above have proven their quality and earned placement on our rankings of the top ten underwater welding school in America. 

References

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