The job of an offshore welder, also known as an underwater welder, combines welding skills ordinarily performed on land with qualifications in commercial diving. The ability to handle bulky equipment designed specifically for the job is needed by these professionals who are required to work in a hazardous setting.
Due to various factors that the profession is surrounded by, it is not easy to generalize the salary outlook for all underwater welder settings. Underwater welders are usually paid on a per project basis; a salary projection is affected by various factors such as dive methods employed, the length of the project and hazard levels. Other key factors that influence salary levels include the nature of employers and dive grade. In 2009, commercial divers earned an average annual salary of $52,540 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS – www.bls.gov)); the BLS includes welding among the tasks performed by commercial divers.
Underwater Welders Job Duties
Underwater welders work with various equipment procedures and types. Welder-divers should be able to perform the following job duties:
•Fitting and rigging
•Non-destructive testing and inspection
The project manager may receive assistance with project planning from some underwater divers. Good communication and interpersonal skills are required by welders in order to be able to work well in a team.
Commercial dive certification is mandatory for a prospective underwater welder. Several schools offer dive certification; however, commercial dive certification differs from ordinary dive certifications that can never be used as a substitute. A diver can qualify for this certification by demonstrating skills in the use of a variety of commercial grade tools, in addition to hyperbaric chamber operations, underwater inspections, emergency procedures, diving physiology and diver communication.
Welding skills ranked at AWS D3.6 standard must be possessed by welder-divers. To qualify for this rating, these professionals have to demonstrate such knowledge and abilities as weld preparation and set-up skills. Welding courses approved by the American Welding Society (AWS – www.aws.org) are offered by most educational institutions.
Additionally, becoming an underwater welding specialist will help an underwater welder gain valuable experience.
The nation’s only school that imparts internationally recognized training for this specialization is the Commercial Diving Academy (www.commercialdivingacademy.com). This occupation has no age restrictions; however, underwater welders are expected to be in excellent physical condition. Most employers expect them to pass physical exams. The passage of periodic exams is needed to maintain underwater welders’ certification.