US underwater welding schools have a competitive edge for two reasons:
Their quality training facilities and instructors are known internationally.
More schools exist in the US than any other country.
Many of these institutions issue certification from globally renown organizations, ensuring your ability to work around the world as an underwater welder.
Let’s see which ones make the top nine.
Here’s a list of best US underwater welding schools:
- Diver’s Institute of Technology
- Santa Barbara City College
- National University Polytechnic Institute
- The Ocean Corporation
- South Central Louisiana Technical College
- Hydroweld USA
- CDA Technical Institute
- International Diving Institute
- Divers Academy International
3 Differences Between Underwater Welding Courses
The differences in commercial diving courses comes down to several characteristics.
Here’s the top three:
- Program Length
Analyze these features closely when researching underwater welding schools.
Your future as a welder-diver depends on it.
Underwater Welding School Cost: Value Based on School Facilities & Reputation
The underwater welding school cost comes to an average of $14,901. This rate combines tuition from 16 underwater welding schools around the world. The most expensive three schools cost $21,800 – $23,400, while the least costly range from $2,800 – $4,755.
If you only only factor in US underwater welding schools, you’ll spend an average of $17,475.
I took out the rates of three schools’ programs whose courses are more specialized:
- ABJ Welding
- XLT Institute of Welding
As you can see, training to become an underwater welder isn’t cheap.
You will purchase all your own equipment, books and pay for housing and tuition.
Plus food, travel and other living expenses.
Still, think of it this way:
Commercial diving schools fall into the “trade school” academic category. These types of schools average around $30,000 – $35,000.
So in comparison, you’re getting a steal.
It all depends on what you consider valuable in the program you attend.
Program Lengths: How Long You Have to Go to School to be an Underwater Welder
Programs range in length as much as cost. On average, commercial diving students will train for 25.5 weeks. The longest three courses range from 35 – 88 weeks, while the shortest three only take 6 – 12 weeks.
Again, these numbers exclude the three specialized underwater welding schools.
Now you know the basics, let’s take a look at each school by location.
Underwater Welding Schools: US Maritime Training
Underwater Welding Schools in Washington
Divers Institute of Technology
Location: Seattle, WA
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.
Beginning in 1968, DIT is a veteran owned and operated school. They include the GI Bill as one of their financial aid offerings, attracting many veterans looking for new opportunities after military life.
As part of their certifications, DIT offers Unrestricted Surface Supplied Air Diver Certification for global diving opportunities. They also have connections with local housing to provide affordable accommodations.
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.
DIT also offers “refreshers,” the ability to efficiently recertify and/or train in a specific area of commercial diving. Alumni may participate in this program and only pay for the material they use on the coursework.
Underwater Welding Schools in California
Santa Barbara City College
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Sitting close to California’s shoreline, Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) is a highly regarded community school. In fact, 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). Of course, 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.
Program tuition costs jump significantly for non-residents.
National University Polytechnic Institute
Location: San Diego, CA
Though not always in San Diego, the National University Polytechnic Institute (NUPI) moved here in 2001. Along with premium location, students will experience training in beautiful areas like the harbor on the Embarcadero and Coronado Bay. Some inland diving companies are located nearby as well.
Safety is emphasized at the beginning and end of training. Underwater welders work inside of an enormous tank containing 44,000 gallons of water. The underwater welding school also includes a mixture of topside and marine skills: One day, you’ll learn how to operate a forklift, the next, you’ll be inside of a decompression chamber.
Students will focus on underwater welding and burning as part of their training. They’ll learn basic theory of stick welding in wet and dry environments and weld according to AWS 3.6 coding specifications in multiple positions.
Underwater Welding Schools in Texas
The Ocean Corporation
Location: Houston, TX
The Ocean Corporation is one of the most southern-based schools in the entire United States. Its location is only about 300 miles from the coast land where many of the top underwater welding companies are based.
It offers two different programs: Ultimate Diver Training (commercial diving) and the more specialized Nondestructive Testing.
It includes an underwater welding program, training wet welders. The Ocean Corporation has a long, rich history starting in 1969. It was the first of the underwater welding schools to add diver bell coursework, add surface welding training in primary module and include HAZMAT/nuclear skills.
Its large campus contains several facilities, including two hyperbaric chambers, dive tank training complex and a diving bell.
The Ocean Corporation also provides financial aid options for qualified students and military veterans.
Underwater Welding Schools in Louisiana
South Central Louisiana Technical College
Location: Morgan City, LA
South Central Louisiana Technical College (SCLTC) is situated just miles from the offshore world in the Gulf. Students will work on Young Memorial Campus and clock upwards of 750 hours of learning and application.
They emphasize practical experience in entry-level diving. SCLTC provides all the necessary tools for you to continue your skills as a hyperbaric welder – inland or offshore. They provide certification from the Association of Commercial Diving Educators and Association of Diving Contractors International. Upon completion of the program, students earn a Certificate of Technical Studies.
Their curriculum includes an underwater cutting and welding lab, along with topside welding and oxy-acetylene cutting. You’ll work with ship engines, underwater welding equipment and operate inside hyperbaric chambers.
Underwater Welding Schools in Florida
Location: Miami, FL
Few US underwater welding schools specialize in training like Hydroweld USA. Its courses only focus on wet and dry welding techniques.
With a branch located in Miami, Hydroweld USA manufactures underwater welding equipment like stingers and brand name Hydroweld FS electrodes. These waterproof consumables are designed specifically for wet welders. It provides training and includes a 36,000 gallon tank for underwater welders to practice inside. Various types of weld positions are incorporated into training and testing.
Administrators over the program adjust their training times and group numbers according to demand. Occasionally, larger groups will attend if a large company is employing multiple hyperbaric welders for a project.
Certification issued by Hydroweld USA includes the Welder Performance Qualification, under the American Welding Society’s 3.6 coding specifications. You must weld up to or exceeding class B welding regulations. Welder-divers are overseen by a Lloyd’s Register representative.
CDA Technical Institute
Location: Jacksonville, FL
CDA Technical Institute changed its name from commercial diving academy, but its mission remains the same: Preparing future underwater welders.
For those that prefer a more comprehensive college experience, CDA Technical Institute includes on-campus housing and a weekly meal plan. It also has a large variety of diving equipment for use during the program such as underwater power tools (think demolition).
CDA Technical built a 20′ deep dive tank for students just entering the program to train in. Later on, underwater welders will join the senior ranks in Trout River (the Deep Water Training Center) – over 165′ deep.
Above all, CDA Technical Institute makes sure you understand “The CDA Advantage.” In other words: This dive school provides training and certification from international organizations like the International Marine Contractors Association. Their program also issues an Unrestricted Surface Supplied Air Diver Certification, ensuring you can dive in many places around the world.
Underwater Welding Schools Along the East Coast
International Diving Institute
Location: North Charleston, SC
Train in the midst of history on South Carolina’s Old Charleston Navy Base at International Diving Institute (IDI). Students need no prior diving experience to enroll here. They receive certifications from the Association of Diving Contractors International and Lloyd’s Register (for underwater welding).
IDI keeps classes to a max of 10 students. All dive instructors are active divers and maintain certification. Like other US underwater welding schools, IDI offers the GI Bill for veterans.
Their program includes Air/Mixed Gas Commercial Diver and optional courses: HAZMAT/HAZWOPER and ROV Pilot and Technician. Their facilities include a Wet Tank training “triplex” with a 20′ deep wet welding tank, 48,000 gallon primary container and a 30′ confined space tank.
Divers Academy International
Location: Erial, NJ
For about six months, Diver Academy International (DAI) will put you through an intensive training as a welder-diver. Divers work both in DAI’s main campus (New Jersey) and its satellite campus in Pennsylvania. You’ll spend time in its 60′ deep water quarry and work a combined 900 hours in study and application.
Tuition is combined into one package. DAI doesn’t charge extra for specialized courses.
Underwater welding training includes time in the 60′ dive quarry and working with instructors who understand metallurgy. Besides application and classroom learning, you’ll also use Lincoln’s welding simulator to practice without consequence. This will allow you to refine your welding skill.
Closing in on graduation, students work with career placement to help them find a job in their field.
Choosing Between US Underwater Welding Schools
Which school do you prefer on this list, and why?
What characteristics do you value most in your training?
These are questions that many graduates and prospective students have considered when researching schools around the nation.
Let us know your thoughts and questions below in the comments!