What Is the Average Pay-Rate for Underwater Welders?

Underwater welders are commercial divers who perform welding work on marine structures, such as offshore drilling sites and ships. Keep reading to find out more about this unique welding career. Schools offering Industrial Automation Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Pay Rates

While wage data specific to underwater welders was unavailable, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that all welders, solderers, brazers and cutters earned a median annual wage of $36,720 as of May 2013. In comparison, commercial divers overall earned median annual salaries of $47,930, according to the BLS in that same report (www.bls.gov). A 2011 article published by the American Welding Society (AWS) states that welder-divers who work inland earn an annual wage between $40,000 and $50,000 (www.aws.org). If you work on an oilrig or drilling platform, you could make over $100,000 a year with experience.

Overview of Underwater Welders

Underwater welders are commercial divers who help construct underwater infrastructures or repair ships, all while wearing a pressurized dive suit. If you take a job in this field, not only might you weld, but you could also cut, fit and rig materials before they're lowered to a job site.

This career could take you all over the world. You might find yourself working in a shipyard or on an offshore drilling platform. You might even find a job closer to home working on a bridge or dam foundation.

Qualifications

Underwater welding can be a dangerous occupation; you'll need to learn a few things before you begin. Most companies won't hire you if you're only a certified SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) diver. You'll need to complete commercial diving certification.

Some schools offer marine technology training programs that prepare graduates for certification from professional associations, such as the Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI). The AWS maintains a list of schools that offer this specialized training. In addition to instruction in working with underwater equipment, these training programs also teach you how to weld. Once you master the basic skills, you can become certified by the AWS, which is also required for employment.

After obtaining the necessary certifications, underwater divers may enter the field through a 2-year apprenticeship program. You may also want to cultivate complimentary skills. Some underwater welders need photography skills to give their non-diving counterparts visuals of the work. Drafting and rigging skills are also desirable.

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