Taking the Plunge: A Guide to Starting an Underwater Welding Career

Taking the Plunge: A Guide to Starting an Underwater Welding Career

Over the years, a number of people have expressed an interest in careers in underwater welding, but were unsure how to get started. Welders, students, divers, and other interested men and women have contacted the American Welding Society (AWS) for guidance. In order to help those prospective underwater welder-divers, the D3B Subcommittee on Underwater Welding has provided answers for some commonly asked questions.

1. What skills are prerequisite to entering the field of underwater welding?

The skills suggested for entering the field of underwater welding can best be defined by the following typical description of a welder-diver from the AWS D3.6 Standard. "Welder-diver: A certified welder who is also a commercial diver, capable of performing tasks associated with commercial subsea work, weld setup and preparation, and who has the ability to weld in accordance with the AWS D3.6." By description, an experienced welder - diver must possess: commercial diving skills (i. e., be familiar with the use of specialized commercial diving equipment, have an understanding of diving physiology, diving safety, rigging, the underwater environment, communication, etc.); weld setup and preparation skills (i. e., the ability to perform tasks typically assigned to a fitter or rigger, such as materials alignment and materials preparation including beveling, stripping of concrete, fitting a steel patch or repair plate, etc.,); and the ability to certify to a required underwater weld procedure.

2. I am a certified surface welder, what other training do I need to qualify as a welder-diver?

The majority of work performed by an average welder-diver does not involve the welding operation itself, but rather executing the tasks that lead up to and follow the actual welding activities. Except under special circumstances, a welder-diver in most cases must posses both certified welder skills and commercial diving skills. It is suggested that if you have no prior commercial diving experience you should attend one of the recognized commercial diving schools. The candidate may be required to pass a diving physical prior to school acceptance and in some cases a written exam. It is
suggested that a dive physical be taken regardless, to avoid going through the expense of training only to later find you have a disability that prevents your entering the profession. Once that basic commercial diver training is completed, it is common practice to apply for employment at one of many commercial diving companies that offer underwater welding as a service. An interview with the company of your choice is recommended to express your career goals in underwater welding and past welding experience. Expect to begin your career as a diver tender (apprentice diver) initially. As a diver tender you will gain valuable practical experience while learning the trade.

3. I am already a certified diver, what other training do I need to qualify as a welder-diver?

The welding processes, classes of weld and qualification tests associated with underwater welding are described in ANSI/AWS D3.6. We recommend the specification as a reference for weld procedure and welder qualification. It is also a good source of other helpful information. If you are already certified as a "commercial diver" and work for a company that offers underwater welding services, it is recommended that you communicate to your company your career objectives and ask what welder skills they are looking for. If you are certified as a "scuba diver", it is suggested that you attend a commercial diving school. Sport dive training does not include the safe use of commercial diving equipment, offshore commercial work environment/safety, and other education. Underwater welding is a skill you also have to master once you obtain the basic commercial diving skills required.

4. What are the age limitations of a welder-diver?

There is no age restriction on commercial welder-divers. There are, however, physical requirements. It is recommended and generally required that all commercial divers pass an annual dive physical. The commercial diving profession is physical demanding. It is rare to see an active commercial welder-diver over the age of 50.

5. What salary can I expect to make as a welder-diver?

We know some welder-divers earn $15,000 per year while others earn in excess of $100,000. Because the majority of welder-divers are paid on a project-by-project basis, salaries are subject to the same variables as work availability. In addition, other factors such as depth, dive method and diving environment affect pay rates. The company with whom you gain employment should be able to tell you the salary range you can expect to earn.

6. What other skills are recommended to supplement my qualifications as a welder-diver?

Ideally, a diving contractor would like its welder-divers to be "a jack of all trades and a master of them all!" Practically speaking, possessing the skills that are common to underwater welding operations, in addition to welding and diving, are recommended. Primarily these skills are: underwater cutting (oxyfuel, abrasive water jet, mechanical cutting equipment, etc.); fitting and rigging; inspection and nondestructive testing (visual, magnetic particle, ultrasonics, radiography, eddy current, etc.); drafting; and underwater photography (still photo and video). The more skills the welder - diver maintains the more valuable he becomes in meeting project qualification requirements. The most desirable underwater welder-divers are those who are qualified to: assist the diving contractor in pre-job planning (e. g., having the ability to photograph/video, draft and report on work requirements prior to the actual underwater welding operation); cut, clean, rig, install, and fit up the sections they will weld; and work with personnel responsible for inspecting the completed welds. Formal training is recommended for whatever skills you wish to qualify for. Maintaining the qualifications you obtain is just as important as receiving them as there has been many a job lost to a welder-diver who has let his certification lapse.

7. What future career opportunities are there for an experienced welder-diver?

There are a number of career opportunities for experienced welder - divers. Many go on to become engineers, instructors, and diving operations supervisors, fill management positions, qualify as AWS Certified Welding Inspectors (CWI), and serve as consultants for underwater welding operations and other related fields. Ideally, a career as a welder-diver should serve as a stepping stone to other opportunities for those who choose the profession. Industry has and will continue to demand higher quality standards for underwater welds and more certification of underwater welding systems and personnel.

After-reading activity

Continue filling in the following table:

Operations both surface and welder-divers do

Operations only welder-divers do

weld setup and preparation, ...

underwater cutting, ...


Correct the following statements to make them correspond to the text:

1. Welder-divers must have the skills of commercial diving but need not be certified.

2. The majority of work performed by an average welder-diver includes only welding operation itself.

3. Welder-divers apply for employment at commercial diving companies before their diver training is completed.

4. Commercial welder-diver is the same as scuba diver.

5. You cannot be a welder-diver if you are over 50 years old.

6. To possess commercial diving skills means to be able to do underwater weld procedures.

7. Welder-divers earn from $15,000 to $100,000 per year depending on their work experience.

8. To pass a physical examination for welder diver you need to go through formal training.

9. Past welding experience doesn’t count if you choose to be a welder-diver. Answer the following questions:

1. Who can be a welder-diver?

2. What sorts of basic and supplementary skills must a welder-diver possess?

3. How can certified surface welders become welder-divers?

4. What is more important: receiving the welder-diver qualifications or maintaining them?

5. Why do commercial divers pass an annual dive physical?

6. Do welder-divers have any future career opportunities?

7. Do you think surface welding equipment can be used underwater?

Translate the following sentences into Russian:

1. Большое количество людей проявляет интерес к профессии

подводного сварщика.

2. Сварщик-подводник - это квалифицированный сварщик,

обладающий всеми навыками, необходимыми для сварки на

поверхности и под водой.

3. Перед зачислением в школу сварщиков-подводников кандидаты

проходят обязательное медицинское освидетельствование.

4. Полезными навыками сварщиков-подводников являются: фото - и видеосъемка, создание чертежа, установка оснастки и др.

5. Для многих профессиональных сварщиков навыки подводной сварки становятся залогом дальнейшего карьерного роста.

Think and say

1. The word combination taking the plunge is a set phrase (связанное фразеологическое сочетание). Is it a good title for this text? Why?

2. Another set phrase in the text is a stepping stone. What are possible stepping stones in your welding career?


Think of the answers for the following questions:

1. Why did welding become necessary?

2. Is welding a new profession?

3 Who were the first welders?

4. Who invented modern welding?


forge выковывать, ковать

oxyacetylene 1) автогенный 2) кислородно-ацетиленовый

welding rod сварочный пруток

MIG metal inert gas welding сварка металлическим

электродом в инертном газе TIG tungsten inert gas welding дуговая сварка

вольфрамовым электродом в среде инертного газа torch горелка

submerged arc (дуговая) сварка под флюсом welding

molten pool/puddle сварочная ванна; ванна жидкого металла


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