Hyperbaric or underwater welding is welding at elevated pressures. In the current manufacturing industries, the need for the same is high. Its application is pertinent to solving sudden and fatal marine and offshore failures, where water’s presence can hinder regular welding.
With such high demand, there are many openings for the job, which makes one wonder: how much do underwater welders make a year?
This article will answer this question and more, so at the end of which, you can make an informed decision on whether to take up hyperbaric welding as your career or not.
Factors That Determine The Salary Of An Underwater Welder
- Experience: As with most jobs, the on-the-job experience can make you a valuable underwater welder to an employer. While a rookie may earn up to $60,000, adding a few years of experience to the resume can yield more than $100,000 annually.
- Certification: Certification shows how much knowledge you have about your work. Moreover, upgrading existing skills with certificates in new ones can make you seem flexible enough to try new things, leading to increased employment rate and salary.
- Country: Each country has its guidelines for pay scale, and an underwater welder will have to work internationally. Hence, their pay depends on which country they work in.
- Location: Your payment will vary depending on your work, like coastal areas or international waters, as each has different guidelines.
- Depth: The deeper you dive, the more bonuses you receive. Generally, you receive a depth pay that is $1 for each foot till 100 feet. After that, it’s $2 per foot. Moreover, if you are involved in a project that requires long hours of saturation diving, expect a huge bonus.
- Overtime: Underwater welding is seasonal, so over time makes up for the lost season. With projects lasting 12 hours or a few weeks straight, you will receive an overtime bonus. How much depends on the company, however.
Inland Income Vs. Offshore Income
An underwater welder has two options in his career to choose from. Either work within the country at lakes, dams, freshwater bodies, bridges, and small vessels (Inland) or work in the ocean and international waters (Offshore).
Most underwater welders choose to work both inland and offshore alternatively. However, few choose to work in either one of them. Among them, the inland welder earns much lesser than offshore fellows. It is so, mainly due to the work schedule and the risks involved.
Compared to inland-ers, the offshore welders have hectic work times, up to 40 hours in a stretch, and the risks regarding their work practices are significantly higher. This is not to say that an inland welder’s job is a piece of cake. On the contrary, freshwater bodies are unstable when it comes to welding. Another reason offshore welders are paid higher is their skill-set and the locations they have to work. Most offshore-rs spend a large portion of their time on oil rigs or huge marine vessels.
Moreover, they must possess extensive knowledge of how big machinery works and their repair. If they have other experience as a Diver Medical Technician, they get paid even more.
For all the increased pay, offshore welders return inland after a month due to their work schedule, and during winters, they have no work, unlike inland ones. However, when it comes to paying scale of inland and offshore welders, the payment depends on your experience. After the initial 2-3 years, what you get paid as both types of welder increases.
How Much Do An Underwater Welder Make A Year
As discussed above, the pay of an underwater welder depends largely on how much experience they possess and the country and location of their work. Here is how much an underwater welder makes a year:
Inland Welders: Underwater welders working inland (lakes, bridges, Etc.) earn up to $80,000 in the US. With rookies earning about $25,000 to $40,000, and experienced ones making around $50,000 – $80,000 annually.
In the United Kingdom (UK), inland welders earn approximately 50,000 pounds annually. Whereas in Australia, an inland-er earns around $65,000 AUD, and New Zealand pays about $65,000 NZD.
Offshore Welders: Offshore welders in the US earn 100,000 or more every year. Where rookies earn around $40,000 to $60,000, and experienced ones make $75,000 to $100,000 or above.
Offshore welders in the UK earn approximately around 67,500 pounds annually. In Australia and New Zealand, they are paid around $180000 AUD and $135000 NZD, respectively, annually.
How to become an underwater welder?
After acquiring a high school diploma or GED (the basic requirement), you should earn experience and certification in topside welding. After which, you would need to get into a commercial diving school and pass their physical exam. You can work on getting certified and increasing your skill set past the course. Once you have done this, you can finally find work as an underwater welder.
How dangerous is underwater welding?
Aside from the general, occupational hazards with diving like the risk of decompression sickness, drowning in case of equipment failures, and hypothermia, underwater welders face the danger of receiving electric shocks and underwater explosions. Moreover, working for years in the field may result in hearing and cognitive issues and muscle aches. However, most of these depend on how a company works and takes care of its employees.
Which is better, topside or underwater welding?
Both topside and underwater welding differ in responsibilities, certification, and the environment. Therefore, both of them cannot be compared. What you should choose should purely be based on what you want to do. Besides, you need not choose if you don’t want to. Many underwater welders do topside work during the off-season.
How deep can underwater welders work?
Commercial coastal and interior divers work at depths of 180 to 200 feet with surface air supplied. OSHA regulations allow diving at those depths in limited conditions. For greater depths, from 200 to 300 feet, it is necessary to use equipment with helium and oxygen.
Is hyperbaric welding in high demand?
Underwater welding requires experience and much ability, as it is working with a high degree of technical complexity and requires much physical effort. For these reasons, the demand for high-quality standards for subsea weldings and related certifications will always grow.
When you consider the income alone, underwater welding is an excellent career choice, as it gives you financial stability.
However, on the flip side, hefty pay does not come free, and the job has its own set of risks and inconveniences, like work hours, compared with other welding jobs.
The safest bet for an aspiring underwater welder is to start their journey from topside welding to build experience, increase knowledge, and then foray underwater.
However, it would be advisable to secure seasonal employment as a topside welder, as work availability for an underwater one varies from season to season.