How to Become an Underwater Welder

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Welding is a long-term skill set that will not be going away any time soon. Both commercial and recreational use of welding has grown since its invention in the late 1800s. Now the growing need for welders is for the youngest form of welding, not even 100 years old, underwater welding. But how does one get into this profession? There are a few steps and a few qualifications you’re going to need first.

What do I Need to be an Underwater Welder?

The basic needs to become an underwater welder are your high school diploma or graduate equivalency. You will also need to have the ability to swim. Swimming isn’t the biggest part of the job but it is very important when you’re underwater. The trade requirements will begin with a mechanical aptitude test to prove that you understand how to use tools. You then will have to get a commercial diving certification. To be an underwater welder, you need to be familiar with all equipment and knowledge of deep-sea diving.

The final and most important requirement is the American Welding Society certified welding training. You must study and prove that you can weld before they allow you to weld underwater. Two different types of welding but you have to master the basics before you can attempt advanced welding.

Steps to Becoming an Underwater Certified Welder

  1. Earn your topside welding certification by learning to weld and continuously working in the field for at least two years. You will need to know how to do multiple types of welding: shielded metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, gas metal arc welding, plasma arc welding and flux-cored arc welding.
  2. Apply and pass a commercial diving class.
  3. Use your diver’s license and welding experience to get a job as an underwater welder.

Dangers Of Underwater Welding

There are some dangers to underwater welding that you should know before becoming one. While dealing with hot metal, burning is a major concern when welding topside or underwater. Most people think touching the welding rod is the primary source of burns when it’s really touching the metal after a weld is completed. Careless situational awareness while welding can cause more burns than the flame itself. Electrocution is another concern. If you have faulty equipment or exposed wires, you greatly risk electrocution. Being submerged in a conductor while holding a metal tank and metal torch is one big shock waiting to happen. Always be sure to conduct checks on equipment before and after each dive.

Also Read: The Dangers of Underwater Welding

Proper diving and breaching techniques will be covered in diving classes. Water pressure is a danger that can take time to show symptoms. Could be hours or days before you notice something is wrong. Unstable environments are one of the scariest concerns because it’s almost impossible to avoid. When underwater welding, structures can collapse or fold under pressure. You also risk drowning if there becomes an issue with your equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become an underwater welder?

To become an underwater welder, it will take up to 2 years to get welding certification. The rest of the time depends on how quickly you can enroll and pass a diving course. 

How much do underwater welders make?

On average, underwater welders make between $25K and $80K annually.

How difficult is it to become an underwater welder?

Becoming an underwater welder is only as difficult as learning to swim and how well you weld topside.

Underwater welding is as rewarding as it is dangerous. For more information on becoming an underwater welder or where you can take a diving class, visit our website.


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