It’s not every occupation that can say “Barracudas like to watch.” Described by some as exciting, strenuous, and dangerous, underwater welding is one of the most difficult branches of welding to be a part of. As diver-welder John Quilici puts it,“ You’re underwater, playing with electricity. It doesn’t seem like a good combination, but it works quite well.” The History Channels “Modern Marvels” series did an episode on welding, spending a few minutes on the dangerous life of underwater diver-welders.
So you’ve watched the video, and you are still interested in being an underwater diver-welder. Where do you begin?
Underwater Diver-welder Definition
The American Welding Society (AWS) defines a welder-diver as :
A certified welder who is also a commercial diver, capable of performing tasks associated with commercial subsea work, weld setup and preparation, and who has the ability to weld in accordance with the AWS D3.6, Specification for Underwater Welding Specification for Underwater Welding (i.e., wet or dry), and other weld-related activities.
Underwater Diver-welder Requirements
At the most basic level, you should already be well experienced in two areas: commercial diving and welding.
With commercial diving, being able to swim is not the only requirement, you should have thorough knowledge of the equipment used for commercial diving, the types of dangers you may face when diving and how to deal with them, knowledge of diving physiology, etc.
If you are already a certified welder, the AWS suggests that you complete training at a commercial diving school. Some schools require that applicants complete a diving physical and written exam before acceptance. Whether a physical is required or not, it is advised that you complete one to make sure you are of good physical health to pursue this career path. Below are a list of schools recognized by the Association of Commercial Diving Educators (ACDE) as offering high-quality programs in underwater diving:
ACDE Member Schools in the United States
Santa Barbara City College – Santa Barbara, CA
National Polytechnic College of Science – Wilmington/San Diego, CA/ Honolulu, HI
Ocean Corporation– Houston, TX
Diver’s Academy International– Camden, NJ
Louisiana Technical College – Morgan City, LA
Commercial Diving Academy – Jacksonville, FL
There are no age requirements to be a commercial underwater diver-welder, but there are physical requirements. Annual dive physicals are often required to continue work as a diver-welder. Though the requirements vary by company (and sometimes country), the Association of Diving Contractors (ADC) “has an industry-accepted dive physical format that is used by many of its members in the United States and other countries. . .”
For more information about entering the field of underwater welding, read “Taking the Plunge: A Guide to Starting an Underwater Welding Career” from the AWS.
What are you’re thoughts on underwater welding? Exciting? Fun? Dangerous? Crazy?