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

Underwater Welder Challenges“Matt, 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.

What’s your reason for becoming or not becoming an underwater welder? Comment below!

Updated: June 7, 2014 — 7:07 pm

14 Comments

  1. I’ve recently graduated as a fully ticketed welder, and have passed my pressure exam to weld pipe. Although I’ve developed a pretty bad asthma throughout my apprenticeship and training. I love welding and I am trying to find an alternate path where my asthma won’t be affected so bad. I am in great physical shape I just react to the particles. Would asthma be a large downfall for underwater welding? I also heard if you’ve had a concussion you cannot do it? I’d love some feedback, thank you!

  2. I’m about to start a welding program next year at the community college to get certified,then when my kids are a little older and I gained more experience I consider doing underwater welding.Did you made any experience working with females?Any suggestions/advice for me?
    And are there any good companies I could work for with a contract so I don’t struggle to long with self employment,kinda like a 9-5 job for underwater welder starters?
    (Sorry for my bad English,it’s not my first language lol)
    Thanks

    1. Hey Marlene,

      There’s many companies that provide steadier work, but you have to be willing to move around. Honestly, if you’re only committed to a 9-5 routine, this job probably isn’t for you. It takes lots of flexibility and willingness to work on time schedules and environments that most people wouldn’t be comfortable doing. I don’t say that to discourage you, I just want you to understand what you’re getting into before going into training.

      I hope that helps! And being female is not a problem – I’ve interviewed several women who have made a successful career out of commercial diving. If you haven’t looked into it yet, I’d check this section out:

      https://waterwelders.com/start-here/

    2. Did you go to school yet

  3. Hello, I’m a Military Veteran looking to move to Florida next year. I’m currently searching for employment and someone recommended Underwater welding to me. I have yet to weld but that’s only because I haven’t learned. So far I’ve been doing research on this career, and even though it can be dangerous but there’s danger in every day life, so my question would be since is this career worth getting into since I would be brand new to the welding world. I’m tired of working at a desk, I would like to put these big hands of mine to hands on work. Any suggestions?

    1. Hey Eric, if you’re going to Florida then I’d consider CDA Technical Institute. It’s located in Jacksonville and they have a great program there. If you’d like, I can send you the personal email of a staff member that can help you out there.

      It’s true, this career is dangerous. But that’s why safety is highly emphasized in your training and carries on to your professional career. If you like underwater construction, you’ll enjoy this.

      1. Brandon Pitchford

        Matt are there any other school u suggest looking into in s Florida? Closer to the Melbourne to Miami treasure coast?

      2. Sorry Brandon, that’s the only school there with a full commercial diving program as far as I’m aware of.

  4. Any opinions on the DIT school in Seattle? I am considering it. I want to hear from divers who enjoy their work, I’m willing to work hard, but I want to enjoy it. Is diving a rewarding career path? I am coming from a background of fire department training, I like excitement, I like trying new things. Diving is very new for me.

    1. Great school! They’ve been around for a while, and their certifications, facilities and training programs are some of the best in the nation. Dollar for dollar, you won’t be disappointed.

  5. What does the current and expected job market look like for this field? One school’s site said that the rate of hire is about 70%. Does that sound about right?

    1. Jon,

      Your job opportunities will depend greatly on certification, experience and network. Some schools have a larger percentage of “rate of hire,” but be prepared to start out at the bottom of the ladder (dive tenders). Try to find a school with an employed “job finder” to help you in your job search. Here’s a link for more stats on jobs: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes499092.htm

  6. always wanted to but didn’t follow thru with it I didn’t know who to get in touch with.

    1. Shane, I’d start with underwater welding school admissions officers. They’ll help guide you in the right direction. You can also sign up for Water Welders newsletter for other helpful tips!

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