Underwater welding requires that the welder combine welding skills with commercial diving and some other qualifications in order to fully perform his/her job which can sometimes be very interesting. This job which involves the handling of heavy equipment designed especially for the setting of the job (underwater), requires professionals who know both welding and are good at deep-sea diving.
It is no surprise therefore that the main qualification every underwater welder must possess is the Underwater Specialist Training Program, offered exclusively through the Commercial Diving Academy. Also, with the nature of the job, certifications in this job must be currently updated by passing periodic examinations which seek to refresh the skills of the underground welder.
Qualifications and Job Requirements
Underwater welding as has been discussed above combines welding skills which are normally done on land with commercial diving. And because of the nature of the job, you can become an undergraduate welder by either completing the Commercial Diving Academy’s highly specialized program or getting both your skilled welding and your commercial diving certificates independently.
Many schools offer the Commercial dive certification program. This program, however, has special requirements which must be undertaken and cannot be overlooked regardless of the number of years of experience the applicant has.
This is because qualification for this certification entails that the diver demonstrates a complete mastery and understanding of different skills including the ability to properly use a wide variety of commercial grade equipment, understanding of hyperbaric chamber operations, emergency procedures, underwater inspections, diving physiology, and communication.
Generally, underwater welders work with different equipment and are expected to perform the following duties:
- Underwater cutting
- Inspection and non-destructive testing
- Underwater photography
- Fitting and rigging
Other underwater welders play the role of assistant to the project manager whose major duty is to plan and execute projects. Undergraduate welders are also expected to have good interpersonal and communication skills so as to be able to work well with the rest of the team.
The standard welding skills required by an underwater welder is rated at AWS D3.6 and this encompasses the knowledge and abilities relating to weld set up skills and preparation. Training in this field which is recognized worldwide is exclusively given by the U.S. Commercial Diving Academy.
And despite the fact that the occupation has no age limits, underwater welders must be physically fit and in good health condition. As such, most companies require that prospective candidates pass a series of physical examinations.
Generally, becoming an underwater welder requires that you possess the following:
- High school Diploma or GED
- Commercial Diving Certification
- AWS Certified Welding Training
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics as of May, 2016, underwater welders generally have an average (mean) hourly wage of $25.96 with average annual earnings of approximately $53,990. In addition to that, welders in the top percentile (90%) can be expected to make at least $83,730 annually
The wage of the underwater welder is often a combination of four distinct factors:
- Experience of the underwater welder
- The company or employer under which he/she works
- Location of work
- Depth of the dive
Other issues that can affect the salary of the underwater welder are the length of the project (since work is typically on a project basis) and types of dive methods employed and the hazard levels.
Opportunities in the Oil & Gas Industry
While commercial diving is usually not associated with the oil and gas industry, underwater welders, on the other hand, are in high demand when it comes to this industry especially in the fields of offshore oil and gas production and exploration.
Underwater welders are used by the oil and gas industry to inspect, install, repair and remove structures and equipment in the depths of the ocean.
An important area of oil and gas exploration and production is the installation of pipelines and other equipment. Two main types of welding are the Wet and Dry technique. These two methods make use of a special electrode used to weld as well as the manual metal arc (MMA).
Most oil and gas production and exploration companies prefer the Wet underwater welding technique as it allows free movement. With Dry welding also known as Hyperbaric welding, a chamber is built and sealed around the structure to be welded and then, it is filled with gas, usually Helium as it doesn’t react with other chemicals.
When the gas has filled the chamber to an extreme pressure, the water in the chamber is flushed out such that welders can carry their tasks within the chamber.
But whether a company decides to use the wet or dry underwater welding techniques, it is important to note the relationship between underwater welding and the oil and gas industry.
Underwater Welding & Diving Schools
Divers Academy International
1500 Liberty Place
Erial, NJ 08081
DAI offers courses that package all its certifications into one lump sum, so you don’t pay for each one individually. You’ll jump in quick, but it will be intensive with only a 20-week commercial diving and underwater welding program.
With national accreditation through ACCSC and many federal aid options, students can usually find a way to pay for their training. CDI offers career placement opportunities with connections to more than 100 companies around the globe, and they continue to purchase modern equipment for the experience and safety of divers.
In just five months, you can gain the expertise and training required to enter the satisfying and lucrative world of commercial diving. Become an underwater welder or join a salvage crew. With a comprehensive list of diving certifications, all options will be open to you.
Develop your skill set and meet the advanced employer demands with our intensive 25-week, 900 clock hour program. The Professional Commercial Dive Tech program was developed to meet ever-evolving employer demands and commercial diving certification standards and offers specialty electives to meet those needs.
This program offers advanced surface supplied air diving techniques, nitrox diving, advanced underwater welding and burning, and an all exclusive curriculum that meets employers most sought-after certifications. Graduates will master surface air diving technology, acquire skill sets in underwater welding, hyperbaric chamber operation, salvage, video inspections, equipment maintenance, rigging, and more.
Once these skills have been mastered, students will have an opportunity to select a specialty skill to meet their employment specialty skill set. Students can choose from the inland diver nitrox gas specialty or international deep dive specialty.
International Diving Institute
1400 Pierside St.
Bldg 190, St C
North Charleston, SC 29405
The International Diving Institute (IDI) puts its students in the thick of it all, training them on commercial diving work with a Wet Tank triplex and mobile dive stations. At IDI, you will be trained at the Old Charleston Navy Base. This location is in the heart of the industrial district of Charleston and integral to the Port of Charleston and waterfront ship loading operations. You will be training in the same environment that commercial divers work in every day.
After receiving certification, divers have the opportunity to take an additional course which concentrates solely on underwater welding. This is the only dive school who certify under Lloyds Register and AWS WPQ D3.6:2010 Class B. Other courses include diving history, medical application, physics, safety and inspection, equipment maintenance, and research.
The International Diving Institute offers a 2 week, 80 hour course which covers the training you need to test for a Lloyd’s Register Underwater Welder certification. The course culminates with a practical test proctored by a Lloyd’s Register Surveyor through American Welding Society (AWS). Welding certifications are typically required when performing emergency welds on ships, as well as certain load-bearing or critical structures. Lloyd’s Register provides an internationally-recognized certification.
CDA Technical Institute
91 Trout River Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32208
CDA Technical Institute offers one of the most comprehensive diving and underwater welding training programs available, with on-campus housing and a full meal plan. CDA’s internationally recognized Unrestricted Surface Supplied Air Diver Certification is recognized throughout the world and requires every student to achieve a minimum of 3,000+ minutes of bottom time (in-water training). In their training they utilize their pool, training tanks, river dive stations and The Deep Water Training Center in Ocala Florida with depths / dive up to and including 165 feet.
CDA prides itself on “The CDA Advantage” offering commercial diving certifications from global organizations. Their international certification for divers is recognized by IMCA (International Marine Contractors Association) which contributes to their high success rate, with placement in excess of 91%.
At CDA, students may earn an underwater welding certification, under AWS standards D3.6. The underwater welding qualification meets a strict standard and is only achieved by the most dedicated students. It requires successful completion of the practical portion of both the Top-side and the Underwater Welding course and recognizes Underwater Welding Qualifications for Class C fillet weld to AWS D3.6M.
The commercial diver training goes beyond underwater welding and our graduates are proficient in many other useful skills from underwater salvage, pipeline construction and repair, rigging, the operations of underwater tools (jack-hammers, hydraulic drills and chainsaws). These skills and certifications go beyond the required training and are a part of The CDA Advantage. They make graduates from CDA Technical Institute Air/Mixed Gas Commercial Diver Program a top choice for Diving Companies. Click here for more information on CDA’s curriculum and comprehensive commercial diving program.
Individuals interested in a career in underwater welding should know that this specific task represents only 5 to 10% of the duties a commercial diver will be expected to perform and is not a stand-alone career. This is why CDA is committed to providing comprehensive training in all aspects of commercial diving. It is worth noting that CDA is the only school that is owned and operated by an active commercial diver and underwater welder! Founder Captain Ray Black has been an underwater welder since 1989 and has worked worldwide.
114 Dockside Circle
Weston, Florida 33327
954 385 5678
With specialized offerings and a unique underwater welding training program, Hydroweld functions almost like a graduate school in that you must have proper diver certification before applying. Upon acceptance, divers will be exposed to every possible environment for underwater welding, including a 36,000 gallon water tank and four hyperbaric welding chambers.
Hydroweld provides underwater welding certification for completing their program, but the certification will not be transferable to all diving companies. Their main purpose is to prepare their students for underwater welding by meeting the AWS’ standards. Hydroweld provide well established, unrivaled wet welder training courses at: Hydroweld USA ‘Underwater Technology and Training Centre’ (UTTC) in Miami, Florida, USA.
The center includes an indoor, 170m, 6m (20′)diameter x 6m (20′) deep, 170,000 liter (45,000 US gallon) (approx.), filtered and treated training and research tank. The tank provides an outstanding controlled environment for a large range of underwater programmes including welding, hydroarc-gouging, cutting, welding procedures, welder qualifications and a variety of other equipment testing and training
The underwater welding system includes state of the art wet welding equipment and consumables. The course objective is to train professional qualified commercial divers in the art of wet welding who wish to pursue a career in wet welding or who want to improve on their current wet welding capabilities and gain a recognized wet welding qualification.
These wet welding courses are modular, with each module 10 days long. They are intended to train professional divers up to the standard required to pass a Welder Performance Qualification (WPQ) to AWS D3.6 Code for Underwater Welding, class ‘B’ welds. The WPQ test is witnessed by Lloyds Register (LR). LR are a major classification society and certification issued by them is generally accepted by other classification societies throughout the world.
The courses are open to both individual commercial divers and diving contractors alike. Commercial diving contractor who wish to sponsor a number of welder divers on a project specific wet welding course are welcome to discuss their individual requirements. These requirements may include the development and qualification of welding procedures or the use of their own procedures subject to them being within the scope of the training.
South Central Louisiana Technical College
900 Youngs Road
Morgan City, LA 70380
Students receive high quality training in the commercial diving program at South Central Louisiana Technical College. Taking place on the school’s Young Memorial campus in Morgan City, experienced instructors teach in classroom and facility settings, allowing new divers to get their feet wet in a new, exciting environment.
The program focuses on tasks in offshore work under oil rig operations, and each student will work through procedures involved in dive safety, equipment maintenance and operations. Before applying for the program, students are required to obtain a high school transcript and SCUBA certification.
The Commercial Diving Program provides classroom instruction and practical experience to prepare individuals for entry level employment in the commercial diving industry. The program provides individuals with the knowledge necessary to understand the physics and physiology of hyperbaric environments as well as hands-on experience in areas such as equipment maintenance and equipment operations.
Students perform actual underwater work similar to that done routinely by divers in oilfield operations. The program emphasizes safe and efficient work practices, basic occupational skills, and employability skills. The content is organized into competency-based courses that specify occupational competencies which the student must successfully complete. Open the complete Commercial Diving Curriculum.
Diving students can earn certification upon completion of the programs.
The Ocean Corporation
10840 Rockley Road
Houston, Texas 77099
The Ocean Corporation (OC) has made much advancement in the training of commercial divers. They founded the National Association of Diver Medical Technicians (NADMT) and were the first to incorporate surface welding as part of the standard for dive training.
The Ocean Corporation has made a name for itself in the diving industry, and its prime location near the Gulf of Mexico gives graduates thousands of job opportunities to apply for when they’re ready. Instructors make sure students are graded and measured on their personal performance, pushing them to the peak of their abilities.
The Ocean Corporation offers hands-on training that takes less than 8 months to complete. Our cutting edge training gives you the competitive edge you need to succeed in the commercial diving and NDT inspection industries.
National University Polytechnic Institute
3570 Aero Ct
San Diego, CA 92123
The Kearny Mesa campus of National University Polytechnic Institute is centrally located in San Diego and is equipped with state of the art classrooms, laboratories, and a 44,000 gallon dive tank. To prepare students, most of the dive training is conducted off piers on Coronado Bay, in a harbor on the Embarcadero, and from the dive vessel at sea.
Once students plunge in to learn underwater welding, they’ll be greeted with the hundreds of challenges that commercial divers face in their career. Instructors will teach proper decompression, provide team building exercises and cutting and welding techniques. NUPI gives students the chance to interact with ship vessels, hyperbaric chambers and huge volumes of water, including a 44,000 gallon tank. NUPI is accredited through top organizations like the Association of Commercial Diving Educators (ACDE) and the Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI).
The eight-month commercial dive program allows you to take one of two specialties. Both specialties are valuable in their own sense. Check out each of them to determine which fits your needs the best. NUPI prepares you for both underwater and topside vocations. Both disciplines the college offers, Diving Medical Technician and Non-Destructive Testing include topside training. This gives our graduating students an advantage when entering the job market.
Divers Institute of Technology
1341 N. Northlake Way, Suite 150
Seattle, WA 98103
DIT is a leading training institute to train quality divers. Their highest priority, as a school, is to ensure that when you graduate, you’ll enter the diving industry with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in your new career.
We’ve been Veteran Owned and Veteran Operated since our inception in 1968. Also, we’ve had a history of leading the field in training divers. They were the first, and are currently one of only three programs in the United States to offer an International Certification, the CSA . This allows you to work globally, and can open up many opportunities for you in your future career.
At DIT, they don’t just train underwater welders, or any other particular type of diver. It is about creating a well-balanced diver, and will train you to succeed in many aspects commercial diving. When you attend school here, the bulk of your surface supplied diver training will be conducted in open water, giving you real world experience that can’t be replicated in pools, tanks, or quarries. You’ll perform deep dives to 165 feet, employing both in-water and surface decompression. Your instructors here are highly experienced and knowledgeable in the field, and our intensive, hands-on, and measurable curriculum will ensure that once you graduate, you are prepared to excel.
Operating in beautiful Seattle, Divers Institute of Technology (DIT) is just hours from mountains and beaches. Students will train in and outside of Lake Union, a fundamental experience including zero visibility conditions. They have a specialized 4 months course for underwater welding. Topside welding and underwater welding is one of DIT’s training modules. It includes classroom learning on equipment, introduction to T-joint welds, wet welding practice and final tests.
Santa Barbara City College
Marine Diving Technology
721 Cliff Drive
Santa Barbara, CA 93109
SBCC’s Marine Diving program is the only community college to have gained accreditation from globally-recognized organizations like the Diver Certification Board of Canada and International Diving Schools Association.
SBCC offer two outcomes for enrollees of the program: Certificate in marine technology or an Associate in Science (AS). The AS degree requires a little more coursework.
Engage in two semesters of commercial diving knowledge and application, including bell and saturation diving, mixed gas operations and the principles of underwater welding. The second semester contains slightly less unit hours, though dive training is significantly more advanced.
Santa Barbara City College’s Marine Diving Technologies Program is recognized worldwide for its vocational excellence. It is the only community college degree program in the nation which is accredited by the Association of Commercial Diving Educators (ACDE), the International Diving Schools Association (IDSA) Diver Certification Board of Canada (DCBC) and the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI). Santa Barbara City College pioneered formalized diver and technician education with the A.S. Degree curriculum in 1968. It was the recipient of the Exemplary Program Award in 1998 from the State of California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.
Students who enroll in the Marine Diving Technologies Program have options to obtain an Associate in Science Degree or Certificate in marine technology. Industry-based certifications meeting the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) “Commercial Diver Training—Minimum Standard ANSI/ACDE-01-2009” and the International Diving Schools Association (IDSA) standards are also available for the field of commercial diving. The training is designed to meet the needs of the marine construction, research and tourism industries. These multi-billion dollar marine technology industries are dynamic and require personnel who have a broad training base involving technical skills above and below the water.
The Marine Diving Technology program takes a minimum of two semesters or equivalent to a year to complete the certificate program. To receive an AS degree, you would need to attend an additional two semesters or an equivalent of two years.