Underwater welding can be an exciting and lucrative career. It is difficult work (hence the bigger paycheck) and it can be dangerous. Making the move from traditional surface welding to underwater welding is not as easy as many think. Breaking into this field can be difficult, as it requires years of experience. While it may be true that a high school diploma or GED and passing a driving exam are the only official (backed by paper) requirements needed to become an underwater diver, that’s the equivalent of saying all you have to do to become an architect is build a nice tower out of wooden blocks on the living room floor. Being trusted to do such a difficult job entails mountains of practical experience in addition to formal training. Below, you’ll find the keys you need to understand and possess if you want a chance to become a successful underwater welder.
While there are no universally standard certifications for welders, getting as many certifications as you can will help your cause. Do everything you can to show your competency as a surface welder, underwater welder, and commercial diver. When it comes to surface welder certifications, the more disciplines represented, the better. If there’s an arc welding certification to be gotten, get it. Showing your experience and abilities in all three areas and multiple surface disciplines is the only way to ensure that you even make it past a prospective employer’s first glance. Even with enough certifications to sink a ship, prospective employers will want to see a good amount of practical experience, too. Do everything you can to build your resumé to reflect a diverse career with a focus to going underwater.
As with other professions, networking can be key to getting hired as an underwater welder. Building contacts in the industry can help you stand out among lesser-known candidates for the same job. Local and internet-based groups can be a great way to get your name “out there.”
Given the difficult and often time-sensitive nature of dive welding, you have to expect working conditions that are less than grand. Dangerous jobs often have very little room for error. Most employers demand near-perfect work without fail. Don’t expect too many second chances, especially when there are so many trying to break into the field. You also could face crazy schedules and long hours. Time-sensitive jobs (like repairing an oil rig) don’t offer the luxury of short days and coffee breaks. Some underwater welding jobs don’t actually involve welding underwater every day. It’s normal to expect some downtime or some surface welding between dives. This is another reason to keep your surface skills sharp at all times. As with other jobs, the more you know about all the different aspects of your field, the more valuable you are to an employer.
Many are drawn to underwater welding because they’ve heard how profitable it can be. There’s a reason for that profitability, though. The job is difficult and dangerous and requires a great deal of knowledge, practical experience, and fortitude. But, if you have what it takes, you can enjoy a job that allows you the ability to travel to and explore depths most of us will never know.