Hyperbaric welding is an exciting and rewarding profession. Underwater welders must not only have the welding training and certifications required, but must also be prepared to work in underwater environments and have specialized training in diving and underwater operations. To become an underwater welder, there are many options to choose from. Based on industry reputation, accreditation, and education recognition and awards, the top 3 school options in the United States are the CDA, Divers Academy International, and Divers Institute of Technology.
Top 3 Underwater Welding Schools
|CDA Technical Institute||Jacksonville, Florida||CDA Maritime Welding Diploma||$15,468 Off Campus
$19,644 On Campus
|Divers Institute of Technology||Seattle, Washington||DIT Comm. Diving Program||$27,650||Available||7 months|
CDA Technical Institute
CDA has a number of accreditations and is recognized internationally for its programs. Students benefit from attending a school that has federal U.S. Department of Education accreditation, as well as professional accreditations from the Association of Commercial Diving Educators andAssociation of Diving Contractors International. The school has also been recognized by organizations such as the International Marine Contractors Association and Divers Certification Board of Canada.CDA Technical Institute, formerly the CDA, is located in Jacksonville, Florida, offering opportunities to gain hands-on experiences directly. Students can choose from specialized programs to become an underwater or hyperbaric welding specialist, underwater cutting specialist, or the air/mixed gas commercial specialist. Training modules include completing training in diver safety, non-destructive testing, welding and welding quality, surface monitoring, and welder safety. Students in this program also complete both a topside welding course and an under water welding course, which is required to complete the AWS under water welding certification.
Divers Academy International
Located in Camden, New Jersey, Divers Academy International has one of the top reputations in the United States. With 35 years of dedication to preparing students for positions in the trade, students are able to gain knowledge and skills from highly qualified professionals and instructors. Students in programs at Divers Academy International complete courses in underwater cutting and safety, metal-arc welding, decompression, saturations, mixed gas diving, dive tending, communications, report writing and inspections, and dive boat seamanship. Additionally, students are able to gain skill and practice working with both wet and mechanically shielded welding.
Students at Divers Academy International can also choose from specialized diver programs, including offshore oil operations, inland diving, bridge inspections, and pipe penetration. These specializations and more can help graduates to meet the requirements to enter specific positions or industries based on individual interest or skill sets.
Some of the additional benefits of the program at Divers Academy International include a single tuition cost, modern equipment, real-world environments for hands-on training, and a custom-designed facility that provides opportunities for everything from testing to training.
Divers Institute of Technology
Another top commercial dive school option for future underwater welders to gain the knowledge and skills needed to be successful is to attend the Divers Institute of Technology in Seattle, Washington. As one of the only two dive schools in the United States that is certified by the DCBC, the Divers Institute of Technology can offer distinction and a well-established reputation for high quality programs and prepared graduates to its students.
The diving program at this institution prepares students through the completion of several courses over the course of seven months. Coursework includes physics, CPR, rigging, HAZMAT, welding, under water welding, hydraulic tools, salvage, SCUBA, and open water deep dives. In addition to the initial program, there are also options for refresher courses, continuing education, and advanced training. The advanced training programs include the Diver Medic Technician and the Kirby Morgan Hat Technician courses.
Another draw to this institution is its commitment to helping military personnel and veterans to earn certifications and complete the programs.
International Diving Institute
The International Divining Institute, or IDI, is situated at the Old Navy Base, next to Pier Juliet in North Charleston, South Carolina – a location that has a reputation for being a focal point for diving activity, both commercial and military, for more than a century.
The IDI offers a comprehensive course for aspiring commercial divers which comprises of sixteen weeks, or 640 hours, of rigorous technical training. From first aid and diving physics, to offshore survival and underwater welding, this program covers all aspects of diving. The institute puts emphasis on the quality as well as the safety of the training courses it teaches to diving students, and recognizes that they may have dissimilar learning styles. Because of this, the institute’s classes have a low volume, to allow for individual attention to be given to every student.
Requiring no past welding/diving experience for its program that contains essential courses such as Underwater Tools and Equipment, Topside Welding and Cutting, Hyberbaric Welding and Cutting etc., the IDI holds a membership in the Association of Diving Contractors International. The training program itself is conformant with the standards set by ACDE, as well as the American National Standards Institute. The institute allows its diving students to attain a certification in advanced underwater or hyperbaric welding and is also the only institute which lets aspiring divers receive an official underwater or hyperbaric welding certification from the American Welding Society and Lloyds Register Group.
Holland College’s Marine Training Centre, located in Prince Edward Island’s Summerside area in Canada, is a Transport Canada-approved institute that has been offering training in marine related fields for over forty years. Over the decades, it has developed a global reputation for its exceptionally high instruction standard and excellent facilities coupled with its convenient location. Quality and flexibility are given top priority at Holland College, with students being able to customize their programs to match their requirements and routine. First class accommodation, food and transport are all part of the package at the institute.
One of the Marine Training Centre’s specialties is its underwater or hyperbaric welding program which is a fulltime affair that lasts 9 months. The program teaches aspiring divers the mastery of welding underwater, construction, burning, inspection, repair technologies and maintenance. The graduates are certified by the Divers Certification Board of Canada, and their degree is additionally recognized by the International Marine Contractors Association, Association of Diving Contractors International, Health and Safety Executive in the UK and Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme in Australia.
To achieve the high standards of DCBC certification, the students are equipped with the latest gear and are trained at four different locations, diving as deep as 50 meters. The students are made to experience real life offshore conditions to train them for the industry. Some courses of particular interest for aspiring underwater welders are: Harbor infrastructure – inspection, maintenance, underwater repair and welding; shipbuilding and ship repair underwater burning/welding; bridge inspection, maintenance, underwater burning/welding and repair.
One other salient feature of this institute is that it lets students take selective credit courses if they are unable to take the entire program.
How to Become an Underwater Welder
Hyperbaric welding is a gratifying and exhilarating career option for individuals who have skills in welding and who are comfortable in underwater environments. The unique challenges of the career often draw trained and talented professionals into the field. There are a number of considerations to research when considering a career in this field, including everything from job responsibilities and career outlook to the skills and education that are helpful for preparing to become an underwater welder.
Required Skills and Qualities
Special talent, skills, and interests are a must in becoming a professional underwater welder. To begin, professionals in this field will need to have a minimum of a high school diploma or a GED in order to enter into the educational programs to complete the required professional training. In addition to this basic education requirement, professionals in the field often benefit from having both mechanical and mathematical aptitudes, strong work ethic, willingness to travel, ability to work long hours, and enjoyment of physical work. Underwater welders must also be able to swim, and the stronger swimming skills a candidate has, the easier the tasks associated with the position can be.
Underwater welders also benefit from:
- good physical condition
- strong mental health
In addition to these skills and the 18-year-old minimum age requirement, prospective underwater welders will be required to complete training and education in both underwater diving and welding.
Job Description and Responsibilities
Underwater welders utilize specialized equipment to perform a number of surveying and welding tasks in underwater work environments. Often, the work is performed in hyberbaric chambers with electric arc welding rods. The chamber provides mechanical shielding from the water. In some cases, however, welding is completed with no shielding from water.
In addition to welding, underwater welders often perform a number of other tasks. Some of these responsibilities include surveying or construction work. Some common tasks an underwater welder will complete include clamping pipes, setting brackets, setting risers, putting in pipelines, ship hull repair, underwater salvage, and code surveying.
Choosing the Right Education, Certifications, and Training
At a minimum, underwater welders are required to hold a Commercial Diving Certification from an accredited institution or program and a Certified Welding Certification from the American Welding Society. Typically, qualified welders with the appropriate certifications and education will continue the process to enter the profession by completing a minimum two-year apprenticeship.
In some cases, a schools education program can help future professionals work toward earning both of the required certifications.
Careers in Hyperbaric Welding
Possibilities for working as an underwater welder include:
- working on bridges
- oil rigs
- offshore pipelines
- underwater or partial underwater structures such as tunnels and buildings
- docking facilities
- shipping locks
- nuclear power plants
- working on ships or barges while in the water
Underwater welders can find employment with a number of different types of organizations. Some of the possibilities include the military, oil companies, gas utility companies, marine construction companies, and shipping firms.
Underwater Welding Salary
The salary of an underwater welder or commercial diver will change depending on many factors including:
- Depth of dive
How much is a commercial divers salary?
The Average Underwater Welder Salary is $54,880 a Year
An underwater welders salary is $54,880 a year, which is $4,573 per month, $1055 per week, and $26.38 an hour.
Underwater Welder Salary vs Welder Pay Scale
|Underwater Welders Salary||$100,000||$125,000||$200,000|
Highest Salary Industries
|Annual Average Pay||Hourly Average Pay|
|Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction||$62,100||$29.86|
|Support Activities for Water Transportation||$61,280||$29.46|
|Specialty Trade Contractors||$53,110||$25.53|
|Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services||$51,790||$24.90|
Dangers of Welding Underwater
Although the profession can be rewarding and exciting, there are a number of dangers associated with the field. In underwater environments, there is the risk of pressure-related injuries and conditions to occur. Additionally, underwater welders must be prepared for dangers such as:
- equipment malfunction
- interaction with underwater life
In spite of the dangers that can occur, specialists enjoy many benefits from pursuing a career in the field.
Overall underwater or hyperbaric welding is a very lucrative and satisfying career path, however it takes more education and skill to get there over the regular welding jobs. Hyperbaric welding isn’t for the faint of heart, but for those that are seeking a little more excitement in their welding career.