6 Reasons You’re Not an Underwater Welder (Yet)

Last Updated: March 2, 2021

six-reasons-your-not-an-underwater-welder

“I want to become an underwater welder, but ____________.”

I hear it all too often. Hundreds of people want to go into the underwater welding field, but for every person, there’s a reason why they can’t invest in it. Some reasons are extremely legit, but most have holes in them. I’ve compiled the top six reasons and my thoughts behind each one.

1. Training and certification are pricey

Compared to what? Many commercial diving schools offer a wide array of training and certification for their divers, and several provide an open water licence to dive anywhere in the world. If you’re concerned about money, call the schools directly and ask what your dollars would be going to (equipment, classwork, training, etc).

Underwater welding is an expensive prospect on its own, but paired with your other courses, it’s worth the investment. Welder-divers receive a nice salary for overtime, saturation diving, and a variety of other factors.

2. You don’t want to move away from the familiar

Most welder-divers start their work as a tender offshore somewhere; it’s the nature of the work and the easiest route to get “in”. Plus, offshore work usually pays quite well, and many divers get out of the business after just a few years because they’ve earned enough.

But if you have family obligations, you can find other  inland diving jobs (if you’re willing to sacrifice some of the pay). Inland allows you to be close to your home, and it works more like a 9-5 job.

3. Too many gray hairs

Don’t let your age stop you from joining this profession. Though you’re unlikely to see many underwater welders over the age of 30, there’s no legal age limit. As an older person, you have advantages in professional work experience that those youngins’ don’t. Plus, you better understand your body’s limitations.

4. Water and electricity don’t mix (safety)

True, but underwater wet welding is actually a lot safer than people realize. The next time you start your car, think about how many potential “hazards” exist between you and your destination: Pedestrians, other cars, semis, even your own vehicle could break down in a destructive way.

A good welder-diver understands the hazards of his or her job, but they don’t let them get in the way. You should do the same.

5. Your welding knowledge is still pretty basic

Hard to argue with you here. Welding doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and you can’t take shortcuts to improve your skill set. Hard-earned experience under a mentor is the only way to learn.

I recommend at least two years of topside welding experience before training as an underwater welder. This experience isn’t required, but you’ll quickly realize the necessity of it after you’ve started your training in commercial diving school.

6. Welding all day every day is a lame prospect

Topside welders don’t have an electrode in their hands eight hours a day, and neither do their underwater counterparts. Salvage, burning and rigging are just a few of the other tasks and most underwater welders do as part of their daily routines on marine projects.

Cameron Dekker
 

Cameron grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a once-proud steel town on the Lehigh River, where he got a taste of TIG welding in his high school shop class. He holds certificates for Certified WeldingEducator (CWE) and Certified Resistance Welding Technician (CRWT) from the American Welding Institute. His interests include scuba diving, sculpture, and kayaking.

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