Underwater Welding Schools: Take The Dive Into A Specialty Career

Welding is a very diverse career choice with countless industries requiring the services of professional and highly trained welders. One of the most specialized career paths is that of a diver-welder and on this page you will find out exactly what it takes to become one and where to go for courses.

Many welders look at this very unique path for numerous reasons:

  • Significantly higher pay
  • More welding project opportunities
  • ​Highly specialized training
  •  Extended job prospects outside of welding
  •  And maybe even a little adventure

No matter what your personal reason is for coming to this page you need to know a few things before you get started:

Yes, training is highly specialized and exciting, but it is also very expensive.

Yes, your pay will be much higher with more projects available, but this does come at the cost of being exposed to a higher degree of risk.

This is not meant to scare you off, but we believe that it is important to highlight all the aspects of what is involved in becoming a diver-welder. So, let’s get started.

Underwater Welding Education Requirements


​In general you will have to have a high school diploma or similar GED in order to be accepted into a diving school academy. This is a minimum requirement, but there are exceptions where some schools may accept students with extensive experience in this industry.

In order to become an underwater welder you will require two things:

  1. Commercial Diving Certification
  2. Wet Welding Certification (AWS D3.6M)

Many people go down the career path of welder-diver starting out with one of the above two certifications. The most expensive part of the certifications is the commercial diving part, which will open a lot more doors than just underwater welding.

There are underwater welding schools that combine both the diving and welding aspects into one course, so if you are just starting to plan your career and have no official certification, then choosing one of those schools would probably be your best option. This will bring you to a one-stop shop meaning you do not have to go to different schools to get full certification.

How Much Will This Cost?


As mentioned above, commercial diving certification is not cheap. You will need to be prepared to pay at least $14,000 to complete training to a certifiable standard. Unless you happen to live near a commercial diving school you will also have to factor in room and board for the duration of the course. However, the return on this investment is quite substantial.

Some schools and states will have financial assistance programs available should you require it. Alternatively you could pursue such training through the US Navy where you could receive all the training and certification possible in return for a commitment to a certain amount of service years.

How Much Does A Welder-Diver Earn?


As with all welding projects there are significant differences in income based on the nature of the project. Projects at sea and in significant depth, e.g. offshore oil platforms, will come with much higher wages than shallow water on-shore jobs.

The main factors that determine pay ultimately sum up the risk by taking into account the depth, type of weld, dive method and diving environment. That being said, annual wages of between $100,000 and $200,000 would be expected and normal in this profession.

Offshore projects tend to pay the most because you tend to take on the highest levels of risk. The above stated salary prospects are very achievable as an average income. Each job you take on though will have its own rates attached and this will very much depend on the types of diving, the environment, depth and equipment used.

Most people just think of a typical scuba diver when they picture a diver, but when it comes to commercial diving there are very big differences. First of all there are situations where you may need a pressurized suite because of the depth at which you will operate.Then there are situations where you may be at a shallow depth but will be required to stay under water for long periods of time. This would often involve surface supplied air as regular mixed gas tanks are not large enough.

The depth of the dive is a very significant factor in the rates being paid as the deeper you dive the more complex the equipment becomes and the higher the risks. You will probably find that when you start out your career that you will be more likely to work on shallow depth projects until you gain more experience.

Example offshore projects:

  • Oil/gas wellhead installation and repair
  • Commercial and pleasure boat propeller repairs
  • Deep sea pipeline installation and repair
  • Assembly and demolition of oil rigs​

A lot of these projects are very seasonal with winter months providing safe working environments. However, there is the opportunity to bridge the winter months with onshore projects or for the adventurous by travelling to jobs on the southern hemisphere where qualified American welders are often sought after.

Onshore waterwelding mostly does not involve actual diving, but is more centered on welding in wet conditions. Here are some example projects:

  • Maintenance work on water pipes
  • Bridge building and repair
  • Dam construction and repair
  • Sewerage pipe fitting
  • Oil/gas pipeline fitting

​Just because some of these jobs are onshore and not underwater does not mean that you will be paid a low salary. There is probably a lot more of a difference between rates of different onshore projects, but some of the above will indeed pay very high salaries.

Another thing to factor into your potential pay is that especially for larger metal work jobs there will be a significant amount of overtime for which you will most likely negotiate an additional rate.​

What Are The Physical Requirements?


While there are no specified age limits for commercial divers you will be required to undergo an annual diver’s physical to ensure that your body can still withstand the added stresses. Welding in general is a very physical job, but adding the diving aspect increases the levels of strain and stress on both the body and mind.

Annual physical tests are designed to protect you from possible dangers and reduce the risk of accidents happing. It is vitally important that you attend these tests and employers will demand proof of recent test results.

 

 

Recommended Underwater Welding Schools


If at this stage you are ready to take the plunge and want to get into this very highly trained and paid profession then you should consider one of the following schools that provide nationally accepted certificates.

CDA TECHNICAL INSTITUTE

Jacksonville, FL 32208

Tel: 904-766-7736

DIVERS ACADEMY INTERNATIONAL

Erial, NJ 08081-1139

Tel: 1-800-238-3483

DIVERS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Seattle, WA 98107-0667
Tel: 206-783-5542

HOLLAND COLLEGE, GEORGETOWN CENTRE
Georgetown
Prince Edward Island
Canada
Tel: 902-652-2055

HYDROWELD USA
Weston, Florida 33327
Tel.: 954-385-5678

INTERNATIONAL DIVING INSTITUTE
N. Charleston, SC 29405
Tel: 843-740-1124

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE
San Diego, CA. 92123

Toll Free: 800-432-DIVE (3483)

SENECA COLLEGE
Underwater Skills Department
King City, Ontario, Canada
Tel: 416-491-5050

SANTA BARBARA CITY COLLEGE
Marine Technological Program
Santa Barbara, California 93109
Tel: 800-965-0581

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE
Honolulu, Hawaii 96819

Tel: 800-432-DIVE

THE OCEAN CORPORATION
Houston, TX 77099
Tel: 800-321-0298

LOUISIANA TECHNICAL COLLEGE
Morgan City, Louisiana 70380
Tel: 985-380-2436