How to Seize Your $300,000 Underwater Welding Salary This Year

It’s rare to find a well-paying job that requires little education.

Even more to earn your entire year’s salary in as little as a few months.

Underwater welding can be one of those professions.

Today I’m going to show you exactly how you as an underwater welder can earn by:

Let’s dive in:

How Much is an Underwater Welding Salary? 2019 Average Underwater Welding Income

Underwater Welding Salary

According to commercial divers and global statistics, the average underwater welding salary is $53,990 annually and $25.96 per hour. However, most incomes float around $25,000 – $80,000. Diver welders in the top 10% make $83,730 while the bottom 10% pull in $30,700.

Diving experience is the biggest determiner of an underwater welder salary. Location comes in second.

But here’s the kicker:

Some commercial divers’ underwater welding salary can hit up to $300,000+ annually.

Why the large pay range?

Most underwater welders receive pay by the hour or project. That means Joe Diver might make a hefty $30,000 in a few months with a big contract.

Then he spends another five months looking for his next gig.

Here’s the primary factors that affect your diver welder income:

Every factor is part of a larger equation for increased pay, marketability and career opportunity.

But to be passionate about this career, you need to know where it will take you.

Let’s take a look at the two primary types of underwater welders:

Underwater Welder Salary: Offshore & Inland Work Hours & Diving Projects

Underwater welders fit into two pay scale categories based on the location and scope of their work.

Offshore and inland.

I’m taking it a step further:

I’ve separated the underwater welder salary of  rookie and veteran diver welder, since field experience dramatically increases income.

Offshore Diving Career

Underwater Welder Salary Offshore

Underwater Welder Salary

  • Rookie (starting): $40,000 – $60,000
  • Veteran (3-5+ years experience): $75,000 – $100,000+

Diver Project Examples

  • Platform and Pipeline Abandonment
  • Cleaning Subsea Sites
  • Surveying Chain Anchor Legs
  • Inspecting and Stabilizing Underwater Oil Pipelines
  • Wet Welding Oil Rig Pipelines
  • Hyperbaric Wet Welding Oil Rig Pipelines
  • Drilling Support
  • Installing Wellheads
  • Saturation Diving & Inspection
  • Cruise/Navy Ship Turbine Repair

Commercial Diver Schedule

Typically 4 – 6 weeks out at sea, then 7 – 10 days at home. Insane overtime (10+ hour workdays on some projects).

Rinse, repeat.

A normal offshore season runs from April – November and shuts down in the winter months due to harsh wave patterns and unpredictable weather.

Don’t forget:

Steady work depends greatly on the company and industry.

Some offshore divers enjoy year-round employment by assisting in water vessel maintenance. They do metal work in welding shop or working in topside construction.

Others simply find seasonal jobs or take the winter off altogether.

World travelers enjoy offshore employment, but it’s not for everyone.

Because of higher salaries, most US underwater welders look to the ocean for their first dip into the professional world.

Onshore (Inland/Coastal) Diving Career

Underwater Welder Salary Onshore

Underwater Welder Salary

  • Rookie (starting): $25,000 – $40,000
  • Veteran (3-5+ years experience): $50,000 – $80,000

Diver Project Examples

  • Cleaning and Inspecting Water Towers, Bridges
  • Wet Welding Freshwater Pipes
  • Salvaging and Recovering Sunken Fishing Boats
  • Inspecting and Repairing Dam Walls
  • Cutting Underwater Debris
  • Demolishing Decayed Underwater Structures
  • Inspecting Sewer Pipes (HAZMAT)
  • Maintaining Nuclear Power Station Inlet Structures (HAZMAT)
  • Installing Cement Dock Support Pillars

Commercial Diver Schedule

Average (40 – 45 hour) workdays all year around. Occasional weekends for travel to and from work sites.

Marine welders often have a heavier workload in winter and spring months due to the increased storm damage of water vessels and docks.

Underwater Welding Pay: Earning Potential Based on Country & Location

Underwater Welding Pay

Keep in mind that many divers work internationally for weeks or months at a time; therefore, their earnings are credited through the countries they’ve worked in or around.

A large portion of offshore dry and wet underwater welding takes place around the United States.

These earnings include income from all commercial diving projects since underwater welding is only a small portion of a diver’s job responsibilities.

Let me repeat that one more time:

Underwater welding is a part of your career – not the whole shabang.

Countries report underwater welding pay categorically in three ways:

  1. Percentile income
  2. Numerically
  3. Internal work location

Their numbers are compiled from national employment statistics and graduate earning reports through underwater welding schools.

United States

Percentile10%25%50%75%90%
Annual Wage*$30,810$37,840$49,140$66,570$108,170

*Bureau of Labor Statistics BLS

United Kingdom

Inland SalaryOffshore Salary
£50,000£67,500

Canada

$0 – 19.9K$20K – 49.9K$50K+Average
20%20%60%$55,562

Australia

Inland SalaryOffshore Salary
$65,000 AUD$180,000 AUD

New Zealand

Inland SalaryOffshore Salary
$65,000 NZD$135,000 NZD

Note: The United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand hyperbaric welding salary statistics are based off daily rates. We multiplied these daily rates off of average working days for divers:

  • Inland: 150 days
  • Offshore: 200 days

Underwater Welding Pay Scale Factors to Bring Waves of Income

Underwater Welding Pay Scale

If you’re interested in earning money as an underwater welder, make sure you begin your underwater welding career path in the correct way.

It takes several years of topside experience to build up to a sizable paycheck. And as I mentioned, diver welders are usually paid hourly. The underwater welding pay scale factors vary depending on both the practical knowledge of the commercial diver and the nature of his or her work.

Now:

Several components influence your income.

We’ll start with the most important, then move down from there.

Commercial Diver Field Experience Above All Else

On-the-job experience is the number one factor to earning money in your diving career.

Many go into the commercial diving field with a money mindset, but no one earns a “quick buck.” You have to work your way up the career ladder and take orders from senior divers and maritime business owners.

Once you’ve completed your commercial diving training, you’ll have two choices to make: offshore or inland.

Typically, underwater welders around the North Sea often find jobs inland first, and then they may go offshore later on. Americans are on the flip side of the coin, setting their sights offshore in the Gulf of Mexico first.

Underwater Welder Experience
Image Credit

The bottom line?

Dirt, grime and bottom time. You’re gaining diving experience – paramount to finding employment for the future.

In the United States, diver welders usually start as tenders, so prepare for heavier, laborious jobs for the first 1 – 2 years to gain experience. Known as a “hitch”, offshore work for marine welders means long hours (10+ hour workdays) and isolation from their land-loving friends and family for weeks at a time.

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. –Benjamin Franklin

Similar to most jobs in the labor market, commercial divers will start to see an underwater welding salary increase, steadily bumping them up after several years of hard work. But commercial diving has a large turnover rate, so hitting that five year mark looks more like a few decades compared to most desk jobs.

Premium Paper: The Power of Certification

How does certification combine with diving career?

Experience isn’t enough – you need to get certified in new skill sets to improve your learning curve and make a good impression for employers. Also, applying for new types of diving jobs every so often garners new experiences, and it shows a non-resistance to changing techniques and technologies.

You’ll find that your certification knowledge is worth a lot.

Diving Environments with Beastly Conditions

Your project environment may include waves of challenges completely out of your control.

The most common?

  • Zero degree visibility
  • Freezing temperatures
  • High wave currents

Each of these factors should be taken into consideration by your employer or contractor. If you’re looking for higher pay on two different wet welding projects, you may consider one with less visibility, closed-off environment and more challenging weld.

Each project environment has a slightly different look and feel to it which is one of the major draws of this profession. No day looks the same for underwater welders. The sky (or water, rather) is the limit here.

Depth of Work: How Much Money Does a Saturation Diver Make?

Saturation divers make up to $45,000 – $90,000 per month and over $500,000 annually. They receive “depth pay” which typically pays out an additional $1 – $4 per foot. Usually, it’s $1 per foot up to 100 feet, then it raises up to $2 per foot after that.  Income is dependent upon the length and depth of their project plus tenure of the diver.

Those who undergo a lengthy dive projects involving saturation diving (saturating body tissue with pressurized gases) can earn additional bonuses due to the time and physical strain that your body receives.

Stop drooling. There’s more to this:

In underwater welding school, some students may switch their “get-rich-quick” fantasy from underwater welding over to saturation diving.

However, most saturation divers gain several years of mid-level experience before attempting a dive in the deeper waters. Again, there’s not a shortcut to the big bucks. If you want to make saturation diving part of your career, prepare for many hours within a hyperbaric environment.

This career path is a logical way to increase your underwater welding salary.

Dive Methods that Fit the Job

Dive methods or “modes” refer to dives calling for certain procedures and equipment.

The most common dive method for underwater welders is through surface-supplied air.

Here’s the three primary diving modes:

  • Surface-supplied air
  • Mixed gas saturation
  • Scuba

In general, the less insulation between the diver welder and his or her environment, the higher the pay.

Scuba is reserved more for recreational or scientific diving, though it may occasionally be used by underwater welders as a viable method.

Knowing Your Way Around Underwater Welding Equipment

Have you ever looked at a construction site? Most are speckled orange and yellow with all types and sizes of construction tools. An underwater welder has a similar arsenal, though not all equipment is taken down beneath the surface at once.

Some equipment has more complicated operating procedures, such as large power tools or cutting torches. When in use, underwater welders must pay careful attention to their technique and position to handle it efficiently and safely.

You might be wondering:

What about electric shock?

Some diving equipment, like certain hand tools and underwater lights, pose more risk because they use alternating current (AC), not direct current (DC) power. Depending on the depth and nature of the project, underwater welders may have to use AC equipment for lengthy periods of time, increasing the risk of lethal electrocution if equipment malfunctions.

Diving jobs that call for complex and more dangerous equipment translate to a higher pay for the diver that signs up.

Distance Offshore: Sheltered No More

Typically, the further from the coast, the less emergency medical services may be available.

Of course, almost all oil rigs and large ships will have the basic first aid and diver emergency equipment for you. But with sicknesses like the bends or a broken bones, even a Diver Medical Technician may not have a long-term solution for you.

Unlike saturation diving, there’s no “cutoff distance” for an increase in pay, but employers take work site distance into consideration.

Though not a factor listed on paper, your offshore managers understand the increased hazards you’re undergoing. This may be reflected in your overall underwater welding salary.

Making Bank in Overtime Pay

Underwater Welding Overtime

Trading time for money?

Dealing especially with offshore diving, underwater welders make bank with overtime on big projects. Some divers may work up to 12 hours a day for 1 – 2 weeks straight. Many places increase pay by 50% for overtime, but each company is a little different.

Working long hours on projects applies to the entire welding and construction profession in general. Because much of this work is seasonal, overtime is usually offered to make up for the offseason.

Other Factors that Influence Marine Welder Salary

Overall, two factors impact all others in marine welder income: experience and risk.

I’ve gone over the major elements that influence a marine welder salary, but I don’t want to leave these out.

  • Location: Coastal areas, international waters and other countries all have different guidelines and payment.
  • Performance: A commercial diver who provides quality welds will increase their reputation and salary for future projects.
  • Travel Frequency: The more an underwater welder is willing to relocate, the greater their potential income.
  • Education Level: Marine welders with advanced degrees and certification from credible training facilities stand a higher chance of salary bumps.
  • Employment Competition: The more saturated the commercial diving industry is with other divers, the less they’ll demand your services (and less they’ll pay you).

Topside Welding Salary Versus Underwater Welding: Which Pays More?

Topside Underwater Welding Income

If you’re a surface welder right now, I know what’s happening in your head.

You’re thinking about the money:

How much would I make as an underwater welder? Is it worth the switch?

To answer this question – at least in America – I turn to the BLS. Their data records topside welder income.

The average welding salary is $18.45 an hour according to average wage statistics, with yearly salaries at $33,380. The top 10% of welders make $26.10 an hour and the bottom 10% make $12.05.

This is a difference of about $20,000 annually as compared to underwater welders. However, because of the disparities in responsibility, environment and certifications, I feel this is an “apples to oranges” comparison.

Indeed, some pipe fitters I’ve spoken with can make over $90,000 depending on what part of the country they live in. Others working in dangerous environments like mines can pull in over $120,000 with no sweat.

I get paid more for what I know than what I can weld. – pipewelder

The point is, it’s not necessary to “take the plunge” if your only concern is money. Surface welders make a great living, albeit in a less diverse environment as their underwater counterparts.

If you’re halfway into your topside welding career and decide it’s not for you, I have some good news:

It’s much easier to teach a topside welder to swim than a commercial diver how to weld.

Where to Find Commercial Diving Jobs

Hyperbaric Welding Salary Employment

During the Gold Rush in the mid-19th century, all prospectors had their eyes on California. Gold veins ran deep in the mountains, and yielding a rich harvest for hard-working pioneer. Location meant a great deal, just as it does for underwater welders.

The commercial diving profession receives most of their employment opportunities in construction.

So where do you go to find the best underwater welding jobs?

Since employment is based on project demand, it’s hard to predict. However, within the United States, Louisiana has the best track record for underwater welder employment level and concentration. This doesn’t directly translate to the highest underwater welding salary, however, as we’ll soon discover.

For offshore work, diver welders will find job opportunities all over the globe.

Some estimate that 90% of commercial diver hours are billed in the Gulf.

Of course, many other jobs exist across the world.

America: Top 5 Paying States

According to the BLS’ May 2016 statistics, marine welders earned a salary mean of $53,990.

Here’s the average income breakdown by state:

  • New Jersey: $91840
  • New York: $79470
  • New Hampshire: $57980
  • Virginia: $55090
  • Michigan: $52970

Not surprisingly, New Jersey pays diver welders more than any other state. To understand these numbers, don’t try to narrow it down to a specific industry or company.

It’s more the cost of living that drives income.

Future Prospects: Commercial Diving Career & Underwater Welding Salary

Underwater Welding Employment
Wikipedia Commons Public Domain

Because of the amount of intensive labor involved in underwater welding, some commercial divers will move on to other professions.

Some after 5 – 10 years.

But the majority?

Less than a year.

Typically, commercial divers range from ages 18 – 38, though no age limit exists. Some diver welders work up into their fifties:

As long you pass your physical to keep certified each year, you can continue your career in this field.

When it’s time for a job transition, underwater welders who have solid experience and education can easily shift into related fields.

Here’s a few of the many career opportunities available:

  • Surface welder/machinist
  • Engineer (chemical, civil)
  • Remote Operated Vehicle Operators
  • Riggers
  • HAZMAT Technicians
  • Instructors at commercial diving schools
  • American Welding Society Certified Welding Inspectors
  • Underwater construction consultants

Bonus Advice on the Money: Starting Your Underwater Welding Career

Remember:

The underwater construction industry greatly rewards underwater welders who have knowledge in a variety of fields.

Your underwater welding pay will directly reflect a versatile resume or CV, demonstrating skills in a variety of projects, certificates and locations.

It’s wise to have a learn-as-you-go mentality.

Well-rounded experience will dictate your pay and position as an underwater welder, but it will also translate over to other related careers you may choose at another point in life. If you’re interested in starting a career as an underwater welder, we’ve created a guide for you.

What questions do you have about underwater welding or underwater welding salary?

Updated: October 24, 2019 — 7:36 pm

82 Comments

  1. Hi Matt, thanks for the excellent article! I’m considering a career change and/or taking on part time work in another profession. When I blue-skied all the cool things do to in the world that weren’t what I already do, this came up. Is underwater welding something I could do part time or seasonally? Is it worth the time and money investment if it’s not going to be a long, full-time career? Also, are there many women in this industry? I’m 45, in excellent physical shape. I’ve been in the restaurant industry over 20 years. Hard physical labor, long hours, dangerous work conditions are ok with me. 🙂 I’m most interested in the pay grade increase, the physicality of the work and the work location itself. Are there other people like me who do this kind of job switch? Or is it mostly young guys at the beginning of their careers?

    1. anyone your age in this industry have been in this line of work for more than 10 years, your gonna start as a tender and its a hard rode to get to be a diver alot of work, alot of travel and never at home

    2. Hey Lesa! As Hohgie mentions, you will start at the bottom of the run (as a tender). It’s a career that you may end up doing seasonally, simply due to its seasonal nature (offshore underwater welding is almost impossible to perform in the colder months). There’s not as many women in this career, but it’s certainly just as achievable as men.

      To prove that, I wrote this story a while back on a DIT grad: https://www.diversinstitute.edu/hard-work-offshore-smart-savings-dit-graduate-millee-fritz/

  2. im just thinking about starting school at the cwb in ontario and i was wondering since im at the age of 23 is it too late for me to start? ive been welding for a while just, never had the certifications and have only done mig welding. is it too late for me to start diving? ive been interested in it since high school when a guy came in to talk about it in one of my classes, just ive never acted on it until now a friend of mine who does it is trying to convince me to go under

    1. Certainly not, Jonathan. Many people start much later in life than you. Diving is the easy part – learning correct welding technique, teamwork and technical skills are the bigger challenge. It sounds like you’ve already started working on that.

  3. We are looking for certified, experienced underwater welders to work on a pier in the Marshall Islands. This is a one year assignment. If you or anyone you know has any interest, go to http://www.sanjuanconstruction.com to apply.

  4. Hey Matt I am interested in welding, specifically under water welding. My great grandpa was an underwater welder for oil rigs and in the navy and he is teaching me the basics at his house. I am still not out of high school (and my school doesn’t offer any welding class sadly) but I was wondering what degrees would be best for underwater welding. I am looking at joining the military for help paying for college. I have looked at Ohio State University because they offer a Bachelor of science in welding and was wonder if that would be a good option. Thanks for any help.

    1. Hey Luke! Sounds like you have a great mentor in your grandpa.

      When it comes to choosing your educational investments, make sure you don’t put the cart before the horse. By that, I mean don’t base your degree off of the career you want (because careers come and go); rather, base your degree off of broader interests like mathematics, computers, metallurgy, etc and choose something that you can apply to multiple careers.

      I think you may be on the right track with a welding degree – just as long as that’s a true passion of yours.

  5. Hey Matt! I am 24 years old and am thinking about entering the welding profession. Im in CA, and am scouting out various trade schools where I can learn the profession. Now, I do have a interest in commercial diving but, I have no experience with welding. Would it be better for me to learn the different types of welding ( also curious what type of welding you would recommend), and then later pursue commercial diving, or try to get into it at the very start. Thanks!

    1. Hey Adrian! Thanks for reaching out. I would recommend starting your education in welding. The reasons are three-fold:

      1. Having welding as a skill makes you increasingly more valuable as a diver, as not all dive work is done underwater (such as surface welding).

      2. Divers often have downtime between jobs, especially offshore work. You can supplement your income with a welding job in the offseason.

      3. It’s easier to teach a welder to dive, rather than a diver to weld.

      I’m sure you’ll learn all types of welding if you go to a technical school, but I’d focus on SMAW, as that’s what underwater wet welders use. Don’t forget to check out my “start here” page which expands on these concepts:

      https://waterwelders.com/start-here

  6. To anyone that could give me advice. I have been been interested in underwater welding since my freshman year in highschool, I took the welding class at my school for four years(sadly they did not offer certification). I have recently just graduated from high school and I’m at the point of my life trying to decide what would be the better path, to either go into the Navy become a underwater welder through them of should i just go through a trade school get my certification and the skills I need? Any information would be helpful thank-you.

    1. Hey Alec, either route is great for learning this career, though you should keep in mind that not all military and civilian certificates cross over. So if you end up doing the military route, I would commit long term to them so that you have some solid experience later on.

  7. Matthew Giordano

    Hey Matt, awesome name. So I was wondering what about NDE/NDT in this field? I can weld, but would the examination be part of the other skills needed?

    1. Hey Matthew! Yes, to become NDE/NDT certified, coursework and passed examinations are required (similar to the welding field). To find a program near you that offers certification, I would contact the American Institute of NDT: http://www.trainingndt.com/contact-us

  8. Pop helo i want to be a commercial diver ….i want to knw which is the best diving school and where it is and after doing commercial diving course what is the pecatange that i got the job and what is the risk factors in the job ….tell if anthing else i need to know from this because i have no knowledge about commercial diving i only searched on net ….so please help me

  9. Hey Matt, thanks for all the great info. I’ve been a welder in S.W. FL. for about 6-7 years. I can’t tell you exactly what it is, but I love to weld and always have. I’ve always dreamed of learning how to do it underwater. There’s not much that frightens me, except for one thing. And this is probably a really stupid question, but here it goes anyway. All my life I have been deathly afraid of shark’s. So my question is, do these commercial diver’s go down alone or is there someone who watch’s they’re back? Or are shark’s not even a concern? Thx for your time.

    1. Hey Curt! No such thing as a stupid question. Here’s the good news: Though underwater welders do occasionally swim in areas where sharks are (offshore), sharks ignore them for the most part. This is because of their e and scope of work, sharks ignore them.

      Here’s the really GREAT news: I’ve never heard of a single shark attack on an underwater welder. Ever. It just doesn’t happen.

      1. omnipotent secret ostrich eyes

        there’s a first time for everything 😉

      2. first time for a shark to get electrocuted lol

      3. u dive alone , mostly black water offshore is dead, sharks are not a worry, other fish is a different story

  10. Hello,

    Thank you for the informative article.

    I am a student in a commercial dive school and I have a B.S. in Civil Engineering. I would like to do underwater structural inspections. Do you know what a typical career path of this nature would look like? I have interviewed a P.E. who did something similar but other than that I have not heard very much. Do you know if there are statistics for states who hire P.E.’s or E.I.T.’s with a diving background more than others? Do Engineer Divers/Inspectors work closely with other commercial divers?

    Thanks again.

  11. How long generally is underwater welding schools? And do they teach how to dive and everything relevant in the field with the exception of course swimming?

    1. Hey Brandon, underwater welding schools generally last an average of 3-9 months, depending on the program. Some schools have comprehensive packages that include all relevant skills (salvaging, inspection, saturation, offshore work, underwater welding, etc.) Other schools like Hydroweld offer only specialized courses with a much shorter timeframe for completion.

      Hope this helps! You can check out the main underwater welding schools here:

      https://waterwelders.com/schools

  12. Hey, Ok, so I just applied for underwater welding school. I am 30 years old, and I’m wondering if that is too old to decide to start underwater welding. I am not in terrible shape, but certainly not in the greatest. Is it just a pipe dream for me to think I can do this?

    1. Hey Nina, you can certainly do it! There’s many divers out there – some are even in their upper 40’s.

    2. u dont just weld in the water u might have one dive a year that u might weld in water, mostly back bracking work and sucking up mud

  13. There is very little underwater welding performed compared to general underwater commercial diving tasks. To focus on underwater welding as a primary skill will not help a commercial diver’s career. Instead the focus needs to be on as many mechanical and operational skills as possible. Diesel mechanics, hydraulics, electrical, HVAC, Diver Medical Technician, field drawings, along with underwater skills like flange make-up, inspection, water jetting, rigging, working in zero visibility, metrology, and generally being able to remain orientated and calm while in the water.
    To call someone an Underwater Welder is really not correct, they are a commercial diver with many skills if they are successful.
    The commercial divers who make the most money are those that work in Saturation Diving; This pays $800-$1400 a day in the Gulf of Mexico and a diver will work approximately 180-200 days a year if they’re considered a safe competent diver by their company, the client and their crew. It usually requires 5-7 years of working as a tender (apprentice) and surface diver prior to be judged “competent” enough to dive saturation. Commercial divers that tend to have many accidents or small injuries will not get in to saturation diving in most cases. In saturation it requires one day of decompression for every 100′ of depth plus a day just to exit the saturation chamber safely. That means if you are diving (saturated) to 500′, it will take 6 days to decompress safely. If you’re injured, you still have to decompress for 6 days, regardless of the injury….whether it be a finger amputation, deep laceration, or appendicitis, or worse.
    I’ve been in the commercial diving business 38 years. Mike B

    1. Absolutely correct – as I mention in this article, “…underwater welding is only a small portion of a diver’s job responsibilities.” My goal is to educate those who are interested in commercial diving and help them understand the realities of this career.

      Thanks for those stats on saturation diving; I’ve asked many commercial divers about their earnings, but their answers varied too significantly to gain an accurate picture. I’ve heard tenders an break out in closer to 1 – 3 years, but that’s probably with most commercial diving jobs outside of saturation diving.

      Appreciate your input, Mike.

      1. Matt,
        To clarify further; it is more like 2-4 years at the moment for a tender to “break-out” as a new diver (Class III), but then that diver must be a surface diver for several years prior to being provided an opportunity to dive Saturation. They have to prove themselves as a surface diver first. This is why I stated “5-7 years of working as a tender AND a surface diver”……prior to Saturation Diving.

      2. Thanks for the clarification on that, Mike.

        If you’re ever interested, I’d love to feature you in my Diver Exploits column on the site. Because of your vast experience in the comm diving industry, I’m sure you have some great stories. You can reach me at matt@waterwelders.com if interested. In any case, thanks again for the info.

        https://waterwelders.com/category/diver-exploits/

  14. Hi, I am a student at Tulsa welding school in Oklahoma. I have previous experience welding from high school and before high school in texas. I have my high school diploma and once I graduate I plan on becoming a welders hand through local 798 and after three years, once i have my own rig (which will not be hard for me), I’ll become a pipeliner through 798. After I’m a welder in the field for a few years I want to earn my D3.6 certification in dive school so I can do underwater welding. I’m wondering if my experience with pipeline and welding school and once I take dive school would I earn myself a good spot as an underwater welder or should I just stick to being a pipeliner and not take dive school at all. I’ve also highly considered joining the Navy and serving a four year term after pipelining in order to gain underwater welding experience. Am I just babling at this point or would this be a smart decision as a welder in the field? (P.s. I’m 18 yrs old so I have plenty of time to make career changing decisions, I just want to perfect them)

    1. Hey Evan, it’s obvious you have a good amount of experience and knowledge in welding, and it’s a passion of yours. If you plan on pursuing underwater welding, make sure you do it for the right reasons. As I mention in this article above, topside pipeline welders can earn just as underwater welders, depending on the capacity they serve in (offshore, level of cert, etc).

      If you’re wanting to learn underwater welding for additional certification and to beef up your resume, I would recommend contacting Hydroweld since they specialize in this type of training. Underwater welders do many other tasks besides underwater welding, and most dive schools emphasize skills outside of welding because of this.

  15. Matt, my son completed his Commercial Diver II course at PDC (Professional Diving Centre) in South Africa. Would this be sufficient for him to start a career in any other country?

    1. Hi Elize, I checked out PDC and it looks like your son completed the 50 meter commercial air diver course. This provides IMCA / HSE / IDRF recognized offshore diver qualifications and is generally accepted internationally worldwide.

      However: There are some countries who are not members of IMCA or the IDRF, and they do not accept the above qualifications and therefore their own countries are not accepted by the IDRF & IMCA.

  16. Does being a U.S Navy Diver help in this career field?

    In the navy they do underwater welding, Turbine repair, Salvaging, Recovering Sunken Fishing Boats and more similar stuff.

    1. Hey again, Josh. Practicing diving in the US Navy will help in the sense that you’ll be able to earn your surface supplied certificate and earn experience working on ship hulls, docks, etc. And they’ll take care of you financially, of course. Experience is a huge part of this industry.

      The disadvantage? As a noncivilian, you’ll probably still need to go through a reputable dive school once you’ve finished your Navy career (if you’re planning on a more temporary military career). These schools will give you the certifications you need to practice as a civilian, and it looks good on a resume. When it comes to underwater welding, almost all certifications are performed in-house.

  17. Anyone know how could I get into this career if I’m about to graduate high school and I have no experince in welding? I am really interested in this career!

    1. Hey Nolan, you can start your training at underwater welding school – that will provide some certification and experience to begin with. A lot of schools actually have a topside AND an underwater program, though they only cover the basics. After school, you can get more experience as a welder and then move into commercial diving!

      Here’s a school guide to get you started:
      https://waterwelders.com/how-to-choose-an-underwater-welding-school/

      And this will help you on your career path:
      https://waterwelders.com/smoothest-path-to-an-underwater-welding-career/

      1. Thanks for the help Matt I’m using your site for a school project and it has been really useful!

      2. Sure thing, Nolan. Let me know if I can help in any other way.

  18. do u need a high school deploma.

    1. In most cases, yes. Or GED equivalent. This is part of the requirements of underwater welding schools.

      1. It is a complete misnomer to keep calling this “underwater welding school/diver/career”. The truth is, you are a commercial Diver with a variety of skills. In the industry today, underwater welding is not that important or needed.
        I think you are misleading folks when you insist on calling Commercial Diving “Underwater Welding”.

  19. I’ve thought about becoming an underwater welder, I love swimming and have to get out of the corporate world. I have a degree but would love to work with my hands. My father is very discouraging because he says I am not strong enough to be a welder but I would love to get into it. hmm maybe one day.

    1. No need to wish, Liv! Keep up your fitness levels, apply to a diving school and see what happens! You can do it if you really want it.

    2. If you don’t mind me asking In what working area is your degree from? (Architecture,engineer etcc?)
      Also how old are you?

  20. Does anyone know if being a Navy Diver could transfer into civilian job like this?

    1. Josh, did you receive IMCA, ADAS or other recognized diving certification in the military? If so, much of this certification can be used in the civilian world. If not, you can still go to one of several diving schools that have programs geared toward military veterans.

      1. Hoo thanks for replying 😀
        I posted again…lol, I’m thinking of joining the navy and become a diver.

      2. This country doesn’t want or need a piece of shit like you in the military.

        -A Marine

  21. Evarson Azevedo Azevedo

    Hi guys! I’m from Brazil and I do live as a legalized citizen in U.S , I want to become a diver but i need to know something, There’s a school in Brazil that offer an international certification such as IMCA and ADCI so I’m wondering if i would be able to work in U.S with those certifications.

    I also dont know if there’s nescessary an international certification to the especializations too?? someone know? I’m gonna take an underwater welder and underwater structures maintenance course. If you guys dont think its a good idea, would someone let me know about others schools ?? Thank you very much!

    1. If you’ll only be working within American territory, I believe you only need ADCI certification. However, I would recommend focusing on a school that offers IMCA certification, as this allows for a much wider range of work geographically across the North Sea and elsewhere. International certification is a broad term, since most companies require you to perform additional testing even after you’ve earned a job with them.

      What’s the name of the Brazilian school you’re interested in?

      1. Evarson Azevedo Azevedo

        Hi Matt! thank you for your answer! I apreciated this!
        so yes, the company offers those international certifications but only to the comercial diver course, They also offers a few especializations but without international certification, so do you think that would be a better idea to me to take underwater welder course in another school where they could offer to me some internacional certification??
        Wich ones speçializations would you recomend to me to take now in the beginning of my carrer??
        The school name is Divers University, located in Sao Paulo city.
        They seem to be a very good school
        Thanks a lot for the free ebook! Its a great help!

      2. Evarson, ask yourself these questions:

        What types of commercial diving responsibilities do I want to gain experience in?
        What certifications give me the best chance of gaining valuable diving experience and employment?
        Which schools offer these certifications for the least amount of money?

        I’m sorry I can’t be more specific, but each diving school is different. Again, I would recommend prioritizing schools that offer IMCA certification. Don’t worry as much about specializations like underwater welding – you can always take these later if you need to.

      3. Evarson Azevedo Azevedo

        Hi Matt!
        yes you’re right, its a very personal answer, I just still need to seach a lot about diving.
        I’ll search more about courses that could help me to get in on the off shore market.
        Thanks again for doing this! its always a great help to share all t your knowledge, specially to begginers like me!. lol

      4. Of course, Evarson, any time. Once you’ve done more research, I’d love to feature your findings on Water Welders to help others. Feel free to email me if you have more questions, thanks!

    2. I graduated dive school in 2000, logged over 9000 feet of penetration pipe diving in Florida. Worked for for a couple years in Hawaii offshore. what i can tell you is that the school you go to makes a great impact on how you are perceived in the eyes of certain companies, so with that sid if you plan to do most of your diving career in Brazil then being trained there would be ideal. But if your looking to work here in the U.S two of the best schools “The Ocean corporation”

      1. Evarson Azevedo Azevedo

        Vengerss, thank you soo much for sharing part of your diver experience here, its a great adivice to me and others.
        I’ll search about those two schools and see what happens.
        Thanks a lot again!

    3. and secondly The divers institute of technology in Seattle.

      1. Very helpful, thanks for recommending those schools.

        Are you still diving?

      2. Still dive but not as much as I want to, I’m holding several top tier inspection certifications now, and and working downstream projects….which pays even more money. I dot think i”ll ever give up diving though. it’s a kick ass job!

      3. Very cool, Vengess. I feature a lot of divers on my website, but few have as much experience as you do in the field. I’d love to feature you if you’re interested! Let me know.

  22. I’ve been doing welding/metal fabrication for about 10 years now. I’m currently finishing dive school through the US Navy and have been looking for facilities that offer underwater welding certification testing (I’m in the reserves and do underwater welding and NDT through the navy, however, I do not get a civilian certification for that). All of the places I’ve looked at on-line offer schools that you can get certified through, but I haven’t found anywhere that offers just the certification testing. Does anyone know where there are facilities that do that. I work in San Diego regularly, and am moving to Houston, so those two areas are where i’m primarily looking.
    Or are the certifications typically handled through the company you work for?

    1. Joseph, the only school I know of that specializes in underwater welding certifications is Hydroweld; they have a base in Miami with a top-notch program. Many divers that go through this program are already employed by ship-husbandry businesses, and they often finance their costs.

      As a diver, you’ll probably be doing more NDT than underwater welding, so you may need to broaden your search to the schools across the US: https://waterwelders.com/schools/

      All of these certifications are helpful for gaining employment, but to perform the actual jobs you’ll be doing another in-house test with the company.

      1. Thanks man… I figured I would have to take a test to prove I can actually do the job. Just figured if I wanted to get in the water as much as possible it would be helpful to have a variety of certifications. Thanks for the info!

      2. Absolutely! Let me know if I can be of any other help. I’d also love to feature you on my site if you’d like. If interested, you can shoot me a message: matt@waterwelders.com.

  23. Offshore sounds like it pays a lot beter than inland but how easy is it to get hired in either place?

    1. The chances are purely contextual based on your professional network. If you know someone in the oil business fresh out of underwater welding school, you’re much more likely to get hired at an offshore oil rig, and vice-versa for inland underwater welding. This article goes in-depth on how to form a network for your underwater welding career: https://waterwelders.com/underwater-welding-job-networking/

  24. How many women versus men do underwater welding? Do you have stats for that?

    1. No Jill, unfortunately I don’t know of any statistics that break underwater welder’s income down by gender. But if you run across any stats, please let me know! I’d love to survey maritime companies to find out more specific info such as men versus women in the future. From all of the underwater welders that I’ve spoken with, it’s apparent that the vast majority are men.

      1. The guy from the school I just applied to said the underwater welding population is made up of about 2% women

      2. Interesting. You mind if I ask which school you’re referring to? And this guy – is he an instructor or student?

      3. Divers Academy International…..and he was like the guy in admissions. The one who set up my walk-through of the school. Cause I asked him how many girls do it…

      4. Thanks, Nina! He’s probably answering according to their graduate stats. Overall, 2% sounds like an accurate number (at least in the US and the Gulf).

    2. too many. just typical Ya know one day we give them a chance and decide to let them vote (which I’ve always said was a mistake) next thing you know there trying to weld underwater. the only thing a woman should have to do with underwater is her hands when she’s doing the dishes. besides if they’re on their period all it takes is one drop of blood to attract a pack of sharks and then we’ll have to send men in to save them and finish the job as usual. you must hate how this sounds. on account of I know how much you women hate the truth. that’s why you should not spend so much time on the internet asking stupid questions and bake a cake or something. remember God gave women shorter feet than men so they can stand closer to the sink when they do the dishes sadly we still do a better job when we’re not busy doing more important things go figure. it is funny though how they’re always trying to do what we do but they never come close to our success it’s not their fault they’re just inferior just look at the NBA what a great sport and organization and then they tried to create the WNBA which is sad to watch to say the least. I mean it’s so unnatural watching a bunch of women try to do something that doesn’t involve a kitchen or laundry room.

  25. Does the statistics from the Bureau of Labor come from individual commercial divers, or the companies that employ them?

    1. Jasper, the most recent survey from the BLS collected information from about 1.2 business establishments. Though there may be some individual self-employed divers reporting their income, the majority are from the companies who employ them. Divers usually operate as a 3 man team (or more) for insurance purposes and necessity in communication.

      1. So the businesses report incomes of their employed divers, but do you know how accurate the information is? I’m just thinking the underwater welding and commercial diving categories are pretty specific.

      2. All reports from the BLS have a Relative Standard Error (RSE) for their statistics, which is a fancy way of telling you how accurate their numbers are. For welder-divers, that number was reported last at 10.5%, which is about average for most industries I think.

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