How Much Do Underwater Welders Make a Year?

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Underwater welders wear heavy oxygen tanks and wet suits daily.
Underwater welders wear heavy oxygen tanks and wet suits daily. (Image: PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Welding involves permanently attaching metal objects to one another by exposing them to heat and fusing them together. Welding results in tremendously strong metal bonds and is commonly used for construction work. Underwater welders are unique because they must be trained as a commercial divers and as certified welders, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Commercial Diver Training Requirements

Commercial divers are required to have at least a high school diploma and must complete a commercial diving training program from an accredited diving school, according to Degree Finders. Upon completing a commercial diver training program, candidates are usually awarded a commercial diving license. In addition, commercial divers must be certified in first aid and CPR.

Certified Welder Training Requirements

Training programs for becoming a certified welder are offered by many vocational schools, community colleges, welding schools and soldering schools, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, the United States Army offers training programs for welders. The American Welding Society offers certification courses in specialty areas such as robotic welding at many welding schools throughout the United States. Aspiring underwater welders may want to consider obtaining robotic welding certification because deep sea welding projects commonly use robots. Certification is also available from The Institute for Printed Circuits in soldering and is required by many employers.

Considerations

Underwater welders may help build new construction projects such as bridges and tunnels or help repair existing structures, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sometimes underwater welders are hired to repair cracks in deep sea oil rigs. The majority of the time underwater welders work in small groups or teams underwater and communicate with additional personnel at the surface.

Work Environment

The work environment of an underwater diver is usually cold and dark, and underwater welders wear wetsuits. The job itself is not as dangerous as you might think, and most divers are never seriously injured. However, accidents can occur if a diver isn’t paying attention, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. One of the biggest drawbacks of being an underwater welder is that you may have to spend months at a time on a ship, which takes away from family time. Underwater welders don’t work in scenic environments like scuba divers because they’re usually working in industrial settings. Nonetheless, working as an underwater welder can provide you with the opportunity to travel the world.

Salary

The salary for an underwater welder can range from $100,000 to $200,000 each year, according to the American Welding Society. Most underwater welders work on a project-by-project basis and have salaries that depend largely on how much work is available. Factors that affect how much a welder is paid for a project include things like dive method, depth and dive environment. Welders are usually paid more for projects at lower depths and for projects that take place in more difficult dive environments.

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