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Into the Depths of the Ocean - The Life of an Underwater Welder

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The quest for energy is driving the human race to explore the depths of the ocean in search of Oil & Gas. This has resulted in advanced underwater procedures and technologies being used increasingly to establish highly capital-intensive marine infrastructure. - Jess Potts

The quest for energy is driving the human race to explore the depths of the ocean in search of Oil & Gas. This has resulted in advanced underwater procedures and technologies being used increasingly to establish highly capital-intensive marine infrastructure.


Establishing the infrastructure is one thing, but to maintain the marine infrastructure at an optimal level to prevent operational breakdown requires exceptional technical capabilities, and is fraught with risk.


That’s the challenging job underwater welders perform to ensure our energy needs are fulfilled. They must be highly trained, certified and be in excellent physical and mental condition to work under extremely difficult environments.


Here are some ground rules an aspiring underwater welder must follow to begin the career:


Technical Skills

The underwater welder must be a certified welder as well as a commercial diver. The welder must be capable of conducting commercial subsea welding activities in compliance with the AWS D3.6M, Underwater Welding Code (wet/dry).


It’s mandatory that the underwater welder has commercial diving experience. Hence, attending a recognised commercial diving school is a prerequisite (on an average it takes 2 years to get trained in commercial diving).


Again, an individual certified as a "scuba diver" (NAUI, PADI), would come under the sports dive category, and hence would not be technically competent to handle commercial diving equipment, offshore commercial work in line with requirements of the Association of Diving Contractors Consensus Standards for Commercial Diving Operations.


Prominent underwater training schools

Some of the prominent underwater training schools are:


CDA Technical Institute (USA) Divers Academy International (USA) Divers Institute of Technology (USA) Holland College, Georgetown Centre (Canada) Hydroweld (UK and Thailand)


The age limit

Though there is no age limit, it is mandatory for all underwater welders to pass an annual physical dive test.


The opportunities

The job opportunities like in any other profession is determined by a combination of supply & demand, and the prevailing economic condition within the industry. Again, the willingness to relocate would definitely be an added advantage.


Professionals with wet welding expertise can find opportunities in the following:

• Oil Rigs (underwater welding opportunities can be found on offshore oil rigs).

• Salvage (wet welding expertise is in demand during salvage operations).

• Ship Husbandry and Shipyards (wet welding is performed on vessels that cannot be dry docked).

• Civil Engineering (wet welding expertise can be used during maintenance of bridges, tunnels, and dams).

• Hazmat diving (repairing damaged pipelines).


Remuneration

Welder divers are paid on a project basis, and the salary could be in the range of US $ 100,000 to US $ 200,000 per year (based on factors such as depth, dive method, and diving environment). - Jess Potts

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