How to Become an

Underwater Welder

The complete career guide to be an Underwater Welder: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $54,640
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 36.4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Outdoor Work Environment
    Career Attribute

Underwater welders perform hyperbaric welding and other related tasks that can be used in a wide range of applications, including ship repair and oil platform construction. Many commercial divers undergo underwater training to add to the amount of ways they can earn money from a diving career.


What is an Underwater Welder?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in underwater welder roles:

  • Perform hyperbaric welding while wearing commercial diving equipment
  • Repair metal components and equipment contained in fresh and salt bodies of water
  • Perform emergency repairs of bridges, dams, oil platforms, and other submerged structures

A Day in the Life

An underwater welder is responsible for hyperbaric welding and other related tasks that can be used in a wide range of applications, including ship repair, oil platform construction, and more. Because most of these tasks are completed only when needed, many commercial divers choose to include welding as one of their abilities rather than considering underwater welding as a primary career. Those underwater welders that are employed full-time are commonly hired by marine construction firms.

While ocean-based work may be more common, underwater welders may also find employment in inland areas, such as at a dam or a bridge over a river. However, most underwater welders will choose to live near the ocean to maximize their chances of finding work. Because of the specialized training needed and the fact that underwater welding can be utilized in many marine industries, a person may be engaged in very different activities depending on their employer.

Tasks associated with underwater welding like urgent rigging needs and emergency repairs can appear quickly, meaning that you’ll need to have an open schedule and be able to react quickly when the need for an underwater welder appears. Some underwater welders may have normal employment contracts, but many are also employed on a freelance or as-needed basis. As such, there are fewer standard day-to-day tasks, and most jobs will require using underwater welding knowledge on a case-by-case basis.

Typical Work Schedule

There really is no typical work schedule for underwater welders. Some underwater welders live on oil rigs and may be required to work overtime, any time of the day, any day of the week, and many days in a row without time off. Underwater welders are also commonly on-call to handle emergencies.

Typical Employers

The largest number of underwater welders are employed by oil companies to perform maintenance on offshore oil rigs. However, other employers of underwater welders include—but are not limited to—research facilities, federal, state, and local governments, and nuclear power plants.


How To Become an Underwater Welder

To obtain an underwater welding position, there are a number of requirements. While an associate’s or bachelor’s degree are not needed, you will need to have completed training for commercial diver certification. This process to become a certified underwater welder can differ between countries, but equivalencies are maintained by the International Diving Schools Association and are applied to a 4-level system that ranges from commercial scuba certification at the lowest level to closed bell diving at the highest.

In addition to commercial diving certification, a prospective underwater welder will also need to have training and certification in welding from the American Welding Society or an accredited institution. As with diving certification, you’ll find different levels of training on offer, with underwater welding being identified by the AWS 3.6 label. All programs with AWS 3.6 training will provide the requisite certification to be hired as an underwater welder.

Apart from the commercial diving and welding certification requirements, the knowledge needed for a career in underwater welding includes the ability to swim proficiently as well as a generally good physical condition as the job can be strenuous. Depending on the specific company, you may be required to have a doctor complete a physical exam before being hired. Underwater welders must also maintain certified status by passing proficiency tests on a regular basis.


Underwater Welder Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$38,330

Average

$54,640

High Range

$88,470

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$18/hr

Average

$26/hr

High Range

$43/hr

How do Underwater Welder salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Underwater Welder's can make an average annual salary of $54,640, or $26 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $38,330 or $18 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #330 Nationally for All Careers


Highest Education Among Underwater Welders

  • 0.2%   Doctorate
  • 1.3%   Masters
  • 8.8%   Bachelors
  • 9.8%   Associates
  • 25.2%   College
  • 40.6%   High School
  • 14.1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

4,400

2024 Est. Jobs

6,000

Job Growth Rate

36.4%

Est. New Jobs

1,600

How does Underwater Welder job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 1,600 jobs for a total of 6,000 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 36.4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #6 Nationally for All Careers


What Companies Employ The Most Underwater Welders

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Other heavy and civil engineering construction 1,100 700 1%
Self-employed workers 700 --- ---
Support activities for water transportation 100 --- ---

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