Underwater welding as a career regularly makes the top lists of the world's most dangerous professions, but the salary range of this profession is quite lucrative. The risks taken by an underwater welder are more than made up for in the earning potential. Underwater welding is a much-needed area of specialization within the energy, oil, gas, and marine industries both in the armed services and in civilian organizations. Learn about the salary range and other information for an underwater welder and decide if this lucrative and challenging career path is the right choice for you.
As an underwater welder, the salary that you make will depend in part on your work structure. If you are paid a straight salary as an employee of a corporation or the military, your compensation may differ from an underwater welder who is paid on a per-project basis as a contractor. Since an underwater welder must first be a licensed and trained diver, your salary range starting out will most likely configure with the national average of the mid-$50,000 range. However, as you develop your skill set and advance into your career, your compensation potential ranges easily into the six figures, starting out at $100,000 and exceeding $200,000 in some cases.
There are many different types of special certifications and training you can take to increase your usefulness and income earning potential, and more specialization will be needed as the field of underwater welding continues to expand. Additionally, where you live and work may have an impact on your salary, as coastal states such as California average $25,000 higher for median starting salaries for underwater welders than the inland states which do not have as much demand or work.
As an underwater welder, you will need to have strong swimming and diving skills as a commercially certified diver before you can enter the profession. From here, you will need to possess your high school diploma and specialized training, which can be quite expensive and range in to the $20,000 arena. You will need to show an aptitude for, and an interest in, diverse subjects including metal works, physics, mathematics, engineering, physiology, construction, water safety, first aid, and diving.
As you begin your career, you will need to ensure you are licensed and certified in the state where you plan to work. You should also be aware that certain areas of the country will offer far more job opportunity for underwater welders and you need to be comfortable with moving if you do not currently reside in one of those locations. As an underwater welder you will be responsible for inspecting underwater structures, helping to build and maintain those structures, making repairs or deconstructing structures as necessary. You will also need to be proficient in using a variety of underwater electrical and mechanical equipment including welders, cutters, saws, drills, torches, sledgehammers, and more. You may also need to conduct tests or experiments using explosives and other types of testing equipment and take photographs of marine life or underwater conditions.