Underwater Welding

A Day in the Life of an Underwater Welder

As the title of this occupation discloses, an underwater welder is one who fuses together metal or machinery welding equipment while submerged in water. Actually an underwater welder is trained for the challenges involved in welding above and below water levels.

Sometimes an underwater welder starts as an underwater diver who has brought his avocation skills to the job world. Others are experienced welders looking for a more challenging environment to perform their vocational skills. Whichever way a person becomes an underwater welder, combining diving with the skilled trade of welding is a great way to earn a living.

First Comes Training

An underwater welder must have certification for diving and welding. These certifications are available through commercial and vocational training courses. Continuing education is vital to the novice as well as the experienced to broaden their horizons and prepare them for the varied aspects of underwater welding chores. Guidance for a career in underwater welding can be gleamed from the Underwater Welding Society, Bureau of Labor Statistics and welding schools specializing in underwater welding.

An underwater welder is also known as a hyperbaric welder because of the incidence of performing their duties in high pressure environments while underwater. An underwater welder usually works completely submerged under the surface of water. Some jobs require submergence at various ranges utilizing small hand and powered tools to sophisticated welding equipment.

Many Skills Are Needed To Be An Underwater Welder

Every job requires many other skills in the preparation and execution of each assignment including photography, map making and reading, research, documentation and the handling of explosive materials. An underwater welder may have to test equipment, conduct experiments, haul and use heavy tools such as sledgehammers and pry bars, handle hazardous materials, plus be at ease and safe with sea creatures and plants in their work environment.

As an underwater welder, the workplace is expanded to the two-thirds portion of the world-canals to rivers, ponds to oceans and portside to poolside environments. Underwater welders are involved in the salvage of shipwrecked vessels, maintenance of oil rigs and shoreline properties, as well as preparing for new construction projects. Underwater welders are trained to ply their skills with snorkel, scuba wetsuit and deep sea gear and with gas or electric-powered welding equipment. The workplace varies from project to project, determined by the locale and depth of the project and the environs of the workplace.

Projects are in or around submerged structures and may need to be completed in less than perfect weather or current conditions with limited visibility and under strict time constraints. It is comforting to know the standard operating condition for most environs usually exceed OSHA regulations for underwater diving and welding. Three-man dive crews are the norm and not the exception in the work environs to meet the standards of the Association of Diving Contractors.

Though the conditions surrounding an underwater welder are hazardous, the equipment, gear, and work standards are of the highest quality to lessen the hazards and improve the outcome of projects. Projects requiring the work of an underwater welder may be slated to last for hours to days to months and years. Though the concentration is the time spent underwater, the bulk of the time and effort in the task at hand is involved in training and preparation, insuring the safety of the project and its participants.