Top 9 US Underwater Welding Schools with Certified Results

US underwater welding schools have a competitive edge for two reasons:

  1. Their quality training facilities and instructors are known internationally.
  2. 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.

10 Underwater Welding Schools to Invest In

Underwater Welding Schools US

Photo courtesy of NUPI.

Here’s a list of best US underwater welding schools:

3 Differences Between Underwater Welding Courses

The differences in commercial diving courses comes down to several characteristics.

Here’s the top three:

  1. Cost
  2. Program Length
  3. Location

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

Hyperbaric Welding Schools

Photo courtesy of NUPI.

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
  • Hydroweld
  • 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 Burning Schools

Photo courtesy of CDA Technical Institute.

Underwater Welding Schools in Washington

Divers Institute of Technology

Location: Seattle, WA

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Commercial Diving Technologies

Location: Hudson, FL

With some of the most affordable tuition rates in the nation, Commercial Diving Technologies offers a comprehensive 5-month program. Learn the skills to qualify for a maritime career, including underwater welding, oxy-carc underwater cutting, first aid, offshore survival training and more.

In total, CDT offers 9 certifications, including the DCBC un-restricted air dive certification and ADCI-Tender/Diver.

Besides all of this, CDT sets up student divers for real-world experience with a real oil platform. They’re the only commercial diving school in existence that offer this. They can interact and roleplay scenarios that are normally only experienced by offshore commercial divers and underwater welders.

Hydroweld USA

Location: Miami, FL

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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.

Hydroweld USA also includes a research and development department, working alongside large fabrication businesses like The Welding Institute.

CDA Technical Institute

Location: Jacksonville, FL

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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

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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

[responsive_video type=’youtube’ hide_related=’1′ hide_logo=’1′ hide_controls=’0′ hide_title=’1′ hide_fullscreen=’0′ autoplay=’0′]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_8xXitiii4[/responsive_video]

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

Underwater Welding Schools Wet

Photo courtesy of IDI.

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!

Updated: November 1, 2018 — 5:43 pm

29 Comments

  1. Ejike Diddy-Chukwuemeka

    I love underwater welding and i will like to do the course at IDI but my problm is the tuition fees is much for me, don’t have upto that amount of money.

  2. i want to do this as a job do i just need to go to one of these schools? im 17 btw

  3. So I’m looking at CDA, honestly just because of the housing and meal plans. I too was torn between CDA and DIT. Are the class days so long at CDA that i wouldn’t be able to get a small petty job in the area just to keep my child support being paid? That’s really my last issue with enrolling. The offshore survival training looks fun too!!

    1. Hey Gary!

      I would check with CDATI directly to see what you can work out with them in terms of program hours. Most schools have a little flexibility, it’s just a matter of talking through it with them.

  4. Hello….in 2010 I took a 9 month Journeyman Pipe Welding class which covered MIG, TIG, Stick, and Fluxcore. I was certified in all aspects. I have worked as a welder since then so I’ve gained a lot of on the job experience. Ive mainly performed MIG and Fluxcore welding since school and consider myself a pretty descent welder. I am thinking of taking my welding career into the realm of underwater welding. What would you suggest in terms of schooling considering I don’t need a lot of welding instruction. I’m not saying I know everything in regards to welding, but my focus would be more on the commercial diving aspect with more of a “refresher” if you will on the welding side of things.

    1. Hey Joey! Having a fair amount of welding experience is a great start to this career. You’ll use your welding skills for plenty of topside projects, and you’ll go through the wet welding course much quicker in your training.

      The other great thing is that you have something to fall back (topside welding) during offseasons in the dive industry. Each dive school has its own reputation in the industry as to how well it teaches and certifies you in commercial diving. I’d check out a couple of my articles to help you make your decision on schools:

      https://waterwelders.com/experience-welder-to-underwater-welder-full-speed-ahead/
      https://waterwelders.com/how-to-choose-an-underwater-welding-school/

  5. Im over thinking myself into confusion… its hard for me to deside because i dont mind the cost, program length, nor location of the school. So my question would be which training facility offers more certifications?

    1. Hey Donte, it’s less about the quantity of certs than the quality. You want to get certifications that meet your needs (working inland versus offshore, or as a DMT or something else). Determine which direction you want to take your commercial diving career, than research the schools to see which have the certs to line up with that.

  6. Matt, I’m close to NUPI and have family in Jacksonville for CDA. In your opinion which school would be better?

    1. I guess my question is if money and location wasn’t an issue, which school has the best training/facilities for someone looking to start a new career?

      1. Hey Ryan, there’s honestly not a single “best” dive school out there, because each school has pros and cons that may be weighted differently dependent on the person.

        I would begin by:
        1. Talking to each of the schools (list out the questions you want to ask each for apples to apples comparison).
        2. Learn about some of the instructors (hopefully on the website – see if they have previous diving experience and if so how much)
        3. Weigh in other factors (school cost, facilities, program length, etc)

        I hope this gives you a good start. The difficult of this decision is the main reason I wrote my underwater welding guide, because it gives you a complete perspective on what’s involved in training for stronger preparation.

        waterwelders.com/book

        If you’re interested, contact me via my email (matt@waterwelders.com)

  7. Any thoughts on NUPI? I’m considering it but I’m not sure if there is good opportunities around california for jobs after the course is done.

    1. Hey Cameron, NUPI has a strong program for commercial diving. The key is to choose schools with a similar program and determine the pros and cons of each (length, certifications, etc). Then you can narrow down your choice.

      1. I’m more focusing on the underwaterwelding course is that school worth it for that

      2. Almost all schools provide underwater welding as part of their commercial diving program, so you should be good to go there.

  8. Wish there was a school in Georgia.

    1. True, but IDI and CDA Technical Institute aren’t far off from there.

  9. Hi! Obsessed with this website and has really helped me understand the industry thoroughly. I did want some advice however, I plan to make this a career for life. I’m torn between DIT and CDA. The main difference is price (5,000 dollar difference) and one particular certification-offshore survival. How vital is this certification? How important is it to have a fork lift operator cert? Thanks (:

    1. Hey Natalia! Glad you’ve found my site helpful. DIT and CDA are both excellent schools, and offer some of the best certification in the industry. Offshore survival is particularly helpful if you plan on working on the Gulf. Do you see yourself going there?

      If you haven’t checked out my guide for choosing a school yet, I would strongly recommend it as well:

      https://waterwelders.com/how-to-choose-an-underwater-welding-school/

      1. I did read the article and it did help me bring it down to these two schools. DIT does offer a dive medic course that is two weeks long. Is that equivalent to offshore survival? Thanks again for helping me out. I’m just going to follow the work and want to go to a school that gives me a well rounded education and multiple certifications. They are identical in certifications except for the two CDA offers ( AWS WELD and the offshore survival) but I’m just not sure how important it is. Dive medic certificate i feel would have more pull when looking for a job as opposed to “oh I took an offshore survival class). thoughts?

        thanks again!

      2. Natalia, because you’ve been able to narrow down your choices to these 2 schools, I would focus on other attributes rather than certification since you’ve found them to be quite similar. I would compare cost, learning environment (facilities, classrooms), instructor experience (as much as you can gather).

  10. Bwhahahahahaha Hey Matt, since when did you become an advocate for Professional divers? Go away worm………………There is no work, you wont learn dick and you will get ripped off!

  11. I live outside the US, but I am wondering if I could come on a student visa. Is it possible?

    1. Hey Jasper, yes – it’s absolutely possible depending on the school’s international student policy. Please contact the schools directly to determine if you can apply and attend!

  12. I am interested in CDA Tech, but their tuition is really expensive. How do you justify spending that much for training? And what are some ways to figure out which school is best?

    1. CDA Technical is a strong school with a great training program. In comparison to some schools it may be considered expensive, but they do offer on-campus housing and meals (value that most schools don’t offer).

      1. Thanks for these answers Matt! I’ll definitely check out that link. Part of my problem is that I really don’t know my goals in 1 year, much less 5 years down the road. So how do I make a decision on the school without knowing that?

      2. I don’t have an easy answer for you, though I assure you many people are in the same boat (pun intended). I would spend another month doing your research to determine if this career is right for you:

        Talk with other underwater welders on forums and Facebook groups.
        Reach out to a few maritime companies and ask what it takes to get hired with them (don’t be shy, in my experience they love speaking with people about what they do).
        If you get a chance, talk to a few graduates and instructors of schools you’re interested in.

        This should put you on the right track and help you know how passionate you are for underwater welding. If you’re unsure, reach out to me again 🙂

      3. Will do!!

Comments are closed.