Underwater welding, or hyperbaric welding as it is also know, is the art of welding at the high pressures found underwater. As well as being performed underwater, when it is known as wet, this type of welding can also be performed in a dry environment through the creation of a specially constructed enclosure that has a high positive pressure, simulating the high pressure environment of being underwater.
In generally, wet welding is known as underwater welding, while welding at high pressures in a dry environment is known as hyperbaric welding.
You may ask what the purpose of underwater welding is, and the answer is that there are many uses for this type of welding. It can be used to repair metal structures found in water, such as ships, pipelines, submarines and offshore oil rigs. As a result, underwater is commonly used by the US Navy.
The metal most commonly welded in underwater welding is steel, as this is the material most commonly used to build ships and offshore oil platforms. Wet underwater welding takes place using a form of shielded metal arc welding, similar to that used on dry land.
However, a waterproof electrode is used to allow the welding to proceed underwater. In addition, alternative welding processes can be used, such as friction welding or flux-cored arc welding. In order to give power to the welding equipment, power cables are connected to the welding instruments through the use of waterproof hoses.
Just as in welding on dry land, there are some risks involved in underwater welding. The biggest risk is the risk of electric shock to the welder, due to the increased risk of electrical conductance under water. In order to prevent electrocution, welding equipment used in underwater welding should be well insulated and entirely waterproof, with the welding current carefully controlled.
If you would like to become an underwater welder, there are many underwater welding school s that are available. To become qualified as an underwater welder, you need to be a certified welder as well as a commercial diver. Before choosing an underwater welding school, you should ensure that they will provide you with the appropriate certifications that are in accordance with the American Welding Society D3.6M, the Underwater Welding Code for the United States. You will need to study and pass certain qualification test in order to become appropriately certified as an underwater welder.
If you are already a certified commercial diver, then you should contact companies that you may be interested in working for as an underwater welder and train to their requirements, as each company may have slightly different requirements. Many companies allow you to learn on the job, gaining valuable practical experience.
Welder-divers are always in high demand, and due to their specialized skills, earn an excellent salary, anywhere in the region of $100 000 – $200 000 a year, depending on your experience, qualification and specialization. Most underwater welders are paid on a project to project basis rather than on a yearly salary, so income will vary according to work availability.
The American Welding Society (AWS) provides a list of underwater welding schools on their website, but some popular underwater welding schools that are recommended by the AWS and offer AWS approved certifications, include the Commercial Diving Academy in Jacksonville, FL, Divers Academy International in Erial NJ, Divers Institute of Technology in Seattle WA, Hydroweld USA in Weston, FL, and Seneca College in Ontario, Canada.
Underwater welding can be an exciting, stimulating and financially rewarding career path if you are a practical individual with a love of the ocean. If you are interested in becoming an underwater welder, then contact some of the underwater welding schools listed above, in an area near you, and get started on a fascinating new career path today!