In contemporary times, skilled jobs such as welding are being neglected in most parts of the world.
General office jobs have been the craving of the present times because of the enticing work environment, hidden from their knowledge, most times earn lesser than welders.
Welding is diversified; underwater welders are the highest-paid of the varieties because of the job’s tedious nature. Underwater welders from certain countries are classified to be the highest-paid underwater welders.
Underwater welding is the process of welding at elevated pressures, normally underwater. Hyperbaric welding can either take place wet in the water or dry inside a specially constructed positive pressure enclosure, hence a dry environment.
It is predominantly referred to as “hyperbaric welding” when used in a dry environment and “underwater welding” in a wet environment.
Table of contents
- What is Underwater Welding?
- IS UNDERWATER WELDING WORTH IT?
- WHAT DO UNDERWATER WELDERS DO?
- HOW MUCH DO UNDERWATER WELDERS MAKE?
- WHAT ARE THE BEST J0BS FOR UNDERWATER WELDERS?
- WHAT ARE THE HIGHEST-PAYING COUNTRIES FOR UNDERWATER WELDERS?
- CAREER PATH OF AN UNDERWATER WELDER
- #1. Receive your High School Diploma or GED
- #2. Get Certified as a Topside Welder
- #3. Gain a few years of experience working as a topside welder
- #4. Take and pass a preliminary dive physical
- #5. Become a certified commercial diver
- #6. Attend an underwater welding school
- #7. Apply for a dive tender position to continue your training on the job.
- Continue improving your skills to advance in your field.
- In Conclusion
What is Underwater Welding?
Underwater welding, often referred to as hyperbaric welding, has been around since the early 1930s and is still being performed in many parts of the world to maintain and repair marine infrastructures that are partially or fully submerged in water.
Inland welders work on bridges, dams, and small water vessels, while offshore welders handle pipelines, oil rigs, large ships, underwater habitats, and nuclear power facilities.
Welding underwater is not that different from welding on dry land. Both use the same basic welding techniques and equipment, so underwater welders typically train to become certified welders above water first. This is what places them to be among the highest paid.
Nonetheless, it is a dangerous field of work that involves years of training to gain the required knowledge and skillset and the necessary certification.
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IS UNDERWATER WELDING WORTH IT?
Due to the threats surrounding it, such as explosions, electric shock, and drowning, it may not be considered one of the most significant occupations in terms of working conditions and needs.
It is an excellent job for those who wish to make a high salary in a short amount of time.
Also, it gives room for travel and tours when you are on the job. The nature of the job working on the water is not limited to a particular location but worldwide.
Every profession has pros and cons; there is no perfect system in our world. Weighing the balance between its advantages and disadvantages.
WHAT DO UNDERWATER WELDERS DO?
Welding processes have become increasingly important for structural applications in almost all manufacturing industries.
Although there are numerous techniques for welding in the atmosphere, many of them are ineffective in offshore and marine applications where the presence of water is a key concern.
In this regard, it’s worth noting that the vast bulk of offshore repairing and surfacing work is done at a very shallow depth in the splash zone, which is intermittently covered by water.
Though most ship repairs and welding procedures are done at a shallow depth, they are done quantitatively. And the most technologically challenging task is a repair at greater depths, especially in pipelines, and repair of accidental failure.
The advantages of underwater welding are considerable of an economic nature because underwater welding for marine maintenance and repair jobs bypasses the need to pull the structure out of the sea and saves valuable time and dry docking costs.
It is also an essential technique for emergency repairs. It allows the damaged structure to transport to dry facilities for permanent repair or scrapping safely.
Underwater welding is applied in inland and offshore environments, though seasonal weather inhibits underwater welding during winter. Surface-supplied air is the most common diving method for underwater welders in either location.
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Dry hyperbaric welding involves the welding performed at raised pressure in a chamber filled with a gas mixture sealed around the welded structure.
Most arc welding processes such as shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), flux core arc welding (FCAW), gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), gas metal arc welding (GMAW), plasma arc welding (PAW) could be operated at hyperbaric pressures, but all suffer as the pressure increases.
Gas tungsten arc welding is most commonly used. The degradation is associated with physical changes in the arc as the gas flow regime around the arc changes and the arc roots contract and become more mobile.
Of note is a dramatic increase in arc voltage associated with increased pressure. Overall degradation in capability and efficiency results as the pressure increases.
Special control techniques have been applied, which have allowed welding down to 2,500 m (8,200 ft) simulated water depth in the laboratory.
But dry hyperbaric welding has thus far been limited operationally to less than 400 m (1,300 ft) water depth by the physiological capability of divers to operate the welding equipment at high pressures and practical considerations concerning the construction of an automated pressure/welding chamber at depth.
Wet underwater welding directly exposes the diver and electrode to the water and surrounding elements. Divers usually use around 300–400 amps of direct current to power their electrodes, and they weld using varied forms of arc welding.
This practice commonly uses a variation of shielded metal arc welding, employing a waterproof electrode. Other processes that are used include flux-cored arc welding and friction welding.
The welding power supply is connected to the welding equipment in each scenario via cables and hoses. Because of hydrogen-caused cracking, the method is often limited to low-carbon equivalent steel, especially at larger depths.
Wet welding with a stick electrode uses identical equipment to dry welding, but the electrode holders are more extensively insulated and intended for water cooling. They will overheat if used out of the water.
Manual metal arc welding is done with a constant current welding machine. Direct current is employed, and at the surface control position, a heavy-duty isolation switch is installed in the welding cable to disconnect the welding current when not in use.
The welder instructs the surface operator to make and break the contact as required during the procedure. Only close the contacts during welding, and open them at all other times, significantly when changing electrodes.
The electric arc heats the workpiece and welding rod, and the molten metal is transmitted through the gas bubble surrounding the arc. The gas bubble is partly created by the degradation of the flux coating on the electrode, although it is frequently contaminated by steam.
Current flow induces the transfer of metal droplets from the electrode to the workpiece and enables positional welding by a skilled operator. Slag deposition on the weld surface helps slow the cooling rate, but rapid cooling is one of the biggest problems in producing a quality weld.
HOW MUCH DO UNDERWATER WELDERS MAKE?
Give us a list of jobs that are equally interesting and high paying. We’re guessing you’re having trouble finding many jobs that fit this criterion.
Guess what! Underwater welding is just that kind of a job.
The high rate depends on your skills and experience. It also depends on the type of underwater welding and the realm of the projects.
With this kind of job experience, the underwater welder can lead to jobs as consultant and management positions in significant gas and oil companies, which in return gives improved rewards.
They get an hourly rate from $1 to $35 per hour. Well, underwater welders can earn by the hour or by the project. You’re an underwater welder who works at $30 per hour.
Now, if you work 8 hours a day, it’s $250. The estimated weekly pay of an underwater welder ranges from $1,200 to $1,600. The monthly estimated pay of an underwater welder ranges from $6,000 to $10,000.
The estimated annual pay of an underwater welder ranges from $50,000 to $300,000.
WHAT ARE THE BEST J0BS FOR UNDERWATER WELDERS?
Here are the best jobs for most highest paid underwater welders:
Rig welders are about the highest-paid welders in the world. They work long and arduous hours and have the most advanced education and qualifications.
If they make a mistake, it will be cataclysmic, so companies only hire the best for these positions. You’ll need years of experience and multiple certifications before companies consider you for the job.
Rig welders are often expected to perform underwater, hyperbaric, and welding of all different types on offshore oil rigs at sea.
Some rig welders on helicopters may be flown to and from their worksite daily. More likely, though, you’ll live on the rig you service for extended periods, working 12-hour days every day of the week.
This may last weeks or months, but it’s a significant part of why rig welders earn great pay, such as $52,000 – $207,000 annually.
Quality Assurance Inspector
Repairing ships and marine vessels can be a great entry-level job, but graduating from an inspection will be the most stable and financially rewarding.
As a Quality Assurance Inspector, you could do many different tasks, but it all boils down to one thing you’re working as the eyes, ears, and boots on the ground of the higher-ups in the company.
They want to ensure everything runs smoothly and you check their tasks off the list.
Responsibilities can include performing hydrostatic testing of valves, inspecting rudders and rudder stocks upon final installation, and assuring quality, reliability, dependability, and safety of all underwater repairs.
Because this profession entails various responsibilities, the hourly income can reach north of $70,000 per year when you calculate it over an entire year, but this is not the case for a new graduate.
There are management duties, administrative duties, and more that require years of experience in the field before applying to one of these jobs.
Certified Welding Inspector
As a certified welding inspector, you may not do much actual welding. But you’ll need to understand it better than any of the welders in your company since you’ll be responsible for ensuring everything they do is up to standard.
You’ll need to monitor heat values, ensure all welders follow compliance and safety regulations, and complete all processes satisfactorily.
This implies you’ll need to be familiar with and comprehend the specifications for each welding procedure. Before taking the certification exam, you’ll need three years of welding experience.
Annual Salary ranges from $42,000 – $104,000.
Nuclear Plant Maintenance Specialist
Working in the nuclear industry is a bit riskier and more challenging but financially rewarding.
Nuclear Plant Maintenance Specialists are typically former military or experienced divers and can command salaries of $60,000 or more per year when you project the hourly rate out for a year.
You’ll replace significant components at nuclear plants, such as steam generators, reactor vessel closure heads, and pressurizers. You’ll also do specialty welding and machining repairs on the plant’s primary and secondary systems, such as underwater EDM and remote hardware installs.
The oil and gas industry is a massive benefactor to underwater welders and commercial divers and will likely be where you’re working in your first job right out of CDA Technical Institute’s Commercial Diving Academy.
While it’s true that marine pipefitters are often entry-level jobs, some companies are offering close to $60,000 per year for qualified divers.
You must know and understand shipboard piping systems (including repair and installation practices).
It’s also a terrific way to get your foot in the door of the underwater welding industry by fabricating and installing sophisticated fixtures, jigs, supports, and targets to ensure precise alignment during the welding process.
WHAT ARE THE HIGHEST-PAYING COUNTRIES FOR UNDERWATER WELDERS?
Because of its rarity, the profession is only practiced in a few nations. Each country halves the gap in salaries paid to professionals.
#1. United States:
The United States possesses the most significant number of professionals and the best training centers to be underwater experts.
It is also regarded as the country with the highest payout for specialists performing outsourced underwater duties.
Salary ranges from $50,000 to $300,000 annually.
#2. United Kingdom:
Here the inland salary is 50,000 GBP, and the offshore salary is 67,000 GBP yearly.
In Australia, the inland salary is 65,000 AUD, and the offshore salary is 180,000 AUD.
#4. New Zealand:
In New Zealand, the inland salary is 65,000 NZD, and the offshore salary is 135,000 NZD.
In 1932 Russian metallurgist, Konstantin Khrenov invented underwater welding. It is referred to as the origin of underwater welding. The annual pay is 3,600,500 RUB and above, depending on the experience level.
Having extensive experience in underwater technical work of any complexity, including ship inspection, cleaning and repair, inspection and repair of hydraulic structures, ship provisioning, and so on.
The annual pay ranges from 1,400,000 UAH and above, depending on expertise and experience.
CAREER PATH OF AN UNDERWATER WELDER
Choosing a career as an underwater welder can provide you with an opportunity to apply sought-after skills in a unique and exciting environment.
#1. Receive your High School Diploma or GED
The first step to becoming an underwater welder is to complete your base level of education. Most employers expect to see at least a high school diploma, but you can also get your GED if you return to school after an absence.
- A college degree is not necessary to work as an underwater welder, but it could help you stand out from other professionals when it comes time to start looking for a job.
- After taking care of your education requirements, securing employment will largely be a matter of raising the relevant credentials and experience.
#2. Get Certified as a Topside Welder
Seek formal training in one of several individualized welding processes through an accredited welding school.
If you live in the U.S., you can also complete the Certified Welder program offered by the American Welding Society (AWS). You’ll be awarded your certification after passing a written and hands-on practical exam.
- Run a quick search online to find your area’s welding schools or training programs.
- It may take 7-24 months to complete your welding training and certification, depending on your chosen school or program.
#3. Gain a few years of experience working as a topside welder
While getting a job as an underwater welder right out of the gate is technically possible, having 2 or more years of direct experience will significantly improve your chances.
This will prove to employers that you’re proficient in dry land welding techniques and safety procedures and are ready to apply them in an aquatic setting.
- The more experience you have with surface welding, the more likely you will be considered for future underwater projects.
#4. Take and pass a preliminary dive physical
In most cases, you can sign up for a physical with the same institution offering the commercial diver certification you seek. You’ll be tested on your swimming abilities and cardiovascular conditioning with a head-to-toe examination.
- Having drugs, alcohol, or an infectious illness in your system can be enough to temporarily disqualify you from receiving a commercial diver certification. In this case, you’ll need to retake the physical once clear of the offending substance.
- If you exhibit symptoms of asthma, claustrophobia, severe motion sickness, collapsed lung, cardiac arrhythmia, or congestive heart failure, you may be denied certification permanently.
- Even if the dive school you intend to attend does not need one, you should get a dive physical before proceeding. You might find that you have a handicap that prevents you from pursuing a profession as an underwater welder.
#5. Become a certified commercial diver
Enroll in a commercial diving academy in your state or territory and work through their training program.
The duration of these programs varies, but most are set up to be finished in 5-6 months, or around 900 training hours.
You’ll receive a valid and industry-recognized commercial diver certification upon completing the program.
- A few more notable commercial diving academies include the American National Standards Institute Association of Commercial Diving Educators (ANSI/ACDE), the Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI), and Diver’s Academy International.
- Before being admitted into a specific program, several commercial diving institutes require applicants to complete a written admission exam and a dive physical.
#6. Attend an underwater welding school
This is where you’ll bring your 2 newly acquired skills, welding and commercial diving, together.
Underwater welding programs vary in content and length. Still, most include formal study and hands-on instruction in wet welding abilities, lasting anywhere from six months to two years.
- To be approved for certification, most schools will need you to log a particular number of dive hours (typically 20-50) in addition to classroom instruction.
- Underwater welding schools tend to be in cities bordering major water bodies with thriving fishing, transportation, and drilling industries.
#7. Apply for a dive tender position to continue your training on the job.
Most underwater welders don’t start in high-profile positions. Instead, they begin as “dive tenders,” apprentices that assist experienced professionals during dives.
Submit your resume with your new credentials to the company of your choice to add your name to the fold of potential hires.
- Coastal construction companies, engineering firms, shipbuilders, and underwater salvage teams are just a few of the contractors that work with underwater welders.
- Research the policies and procedures unique to the underwater welding firm you want to work for and train to these specifications. This will enable you to perform at your peak level as a dive tender.
Continue improving your skills to advance in your field.
The gear you’ll need to succeed as an underwater welder will vary depending on your company, the nature of your work, and local industry standards.
Cutting, rigging, and fitting metal components creating design plans and standards, and testing and inspecting completed products are just a few of the most vital talents.
- Some wet welders also train extensively in underwater video and photography to document the progress of important projects.
- Qualifications for underwater welders can vary from company to company and from one project to the next.
Underwater welding was one of the most dangerous jobs in the past, but recent technological advances have made the job much safer and more accessible.
Underwater welding is a complex, physically and mentally challenging career that few feel called upon. As the demand for transport and energy continues to rise, underwater welding will remain a popular profession.
Underwater divers will continue to be needed by enterprises worldwide until highly advanced robots and automated equipment can do tasks requiring the highest levels of expertise, dexterity, and performance.
Till now, we’ve explored all the realms of underwater welding. We have discussed the factors that make this job a high-paying and exciting one. We have explored the career path of underwater welding.
Lastly, we would like to repeat one thing. Underwater welding has no shortcut. You have to work your way up always.
However, an underwater welder’s salary is still lucrative. And if you find it interesting, then try it out.