Every year, thousands of people find themselves wondering if welding is a good career?
Naturally, there are a whole set of personal factors that influence each individual’s answer to this.
Things like family commitments, location, and even whether or not a person enjoys that type of welding job, all affect someone’s final decision on whether welding is a good career for them.
The first thought a person might have about welding work is – welding is just welding, right?
Other than the numerous different types of welding, there is also a huge variation in the environment a welder might find themselves working.
Welding is Not Just Welding
The two main categories are dryland and underwater welding.
Let’s start with dryland welding.
According to the employment website Indeed.com, “the average salary for a dryland welder is $17.83 per hour in the United States.”
A dryland welder is anyone who is doing welding as their main job. This includes job roles such as factory workers and construction welders whose job it is to join the frames that make up modern highrise buildings.
The other kind of welding is underwater welding.
Underwater welding is the most common task that commercial divers perform. Due to the expertise level required and the dangerous nature of the environment, underwater welding requires much more training.
However, the payoff is much higher since underwater welders earn much more than on land welders.
The average underwater welding salary is about $53,990 annually or $25.96 per hour. Experienced divers can pull in over $80,000 per year while deep-sea welders can earn $100,000’s per year.
So is welding a good career in terms of money?
Well, dryland welding might not be but underwater welding definitely is.
To answer the question of is underwater welding a good career, we will not look at the pros and cons.
Becoming an Underwater Welder: The Pros
Anyone can become an underwater welder
The great thing about underwater welding is that all the training required is done during commercial diving training.
This means that you don’t need any fancy education to qualify. Provided that you are able to pass a health test and have a high school education, you are ready to take the plunge.
A commercial diving course in the United States will typically set a student back about $30,000 USD.
An average university course in the U.S costs over three times that amount with an average of $99,417 over the course of a degree.
Since an underwater welder can expect to earn $30,700 straight out of diving school, and in excess of $50,000 after a few years working, not only can they repay their student debt in a few short years, but can quickly be saving bundles too.
If an underwater diver ends up working offshore in the oil and gas industry then they will be earning even more.
Lots of career opportunities
Very few commercial divers end up doing one type of job for their whole diving careers.
Even the ones that do have the pleasure of going to work every day knowing that when it comes to working underwater, no two days are ever the same.
Most divers end up changing their focus at some point or another.
Some divers decide to change their area of specialty, for example, switching from underwater welding to being a saturation diver, etc., others move into management roles.
Many choose to start their own companies in order to take on new challenges and massively boost their income too.
With commercial divers doing so many different types of jobs, there is always an opportunity to change your career path whenever you decide you want to.
Travel the world
Right now, all over the world, commercial divers are hard at work.
From the Gulf of Mexico to Antarctica, commercial divers are needed everywhere. During their career, a commercial diver can find themselves working in dozens of locations all over the world.
Some divers make a career out of traveling to the far corners of the world at a moment’s notice.
Even if a diver finds themself working in one spot, with all those big paychecks, they will be taking lots of holidays to exotic locations for sure.
Lots of amazing stories to tell your grandchildren
There is never a dull day when it comes to commercial diving.
Whether it is tales of close encounters with sharks or standing looking over underwater structures that seem like they are on an alien planet, each and every diver has their own unique set of stories that no one else in the world has.
This brings us to our final point, commercial diving is a lot of fun.
Becoming an Underwater Welder: The Cons
Not for the fainthearted
Commercial diving is dangerous.
Just consider that underwater welders are using high voltage electrical equipment that generates around 6,500°F of heat at the weld point and you will understand why.
While the industry does its best to keep divers safe, working underwater will always be more dangerous than working on the land.
Commercial divers are a special breed. They have to have higher levels of tolerance to things like pressure and claustrophobia, etc. Training helps divers manage these but a diver must have more in the tank than the rest of us.
Lots of travel
Some people thrive on a life on the road, others find it hard.
Commercial divers need to go where the work is. As such, they end up spending a lot of time in airports going places. This is especially hard for those who have families at home.
Not for everyone
Due to the pressure and nature of the job, some people find that diving is not for them.
The good news for these individuals is that many of the skills, including welding, are transferable and can be used to get topside work too.
Is welding a good career in 2020?
Despite the COVID 19 outbreak that rocked the world in 2020, the diving industry remains relatively buoyant.
When the virus struck, commercial diving operators all over the world were forced to suspend or dramatically scale back their operations. However, with strict new hygiene practices in place, many are now ramping back up operations.
The world needs commercial divers.
As a result, there is always a demand for underwater welders.
This means two things:
- There is always a reliable stream of work for welders.
- Salaries will always steadily increase over time.
These factors make underwater welding a great career for all those people who love the adventure and challenge of the job.