Underwater welding is a type of welding that takes place beneath the surface of the water. Underwater, a variety of welding techniques can be used, with arc welding being one of the most common. Underwater welding skills can be used to repair ships, work on oil platforms, and maintain underwater pipelines, among other things. People with relevant skills and experience can work in this field all over the world.
The environment around the welder is wet when underwater welding. He or she wears a dive suit and works with welding equipment that has been specifically designed for use in wet environments. This equipment is designed to keep the welder as safe as possible, reducing the risk of electric shock and the emergence of dangerous situations. Underwater welders must be both skilled welders and divers, with the ability to prepare a scene for welding safely and effectively, as well as confirm that the welds are of high quality.
A diver may create a dry chamber around the objects being welded in some welding situations. Hyperbaric welding is the term for this type of welding. Hyperbaric welders must still have diving skills as well as the specialized skills needed to weld at high pressure, but they are not working in a wet environment. Although building a dry chamber takes time, there are a number of benefits to working in a dry environment that may make hyperbaric welding more suitable for certain applications.
Someone must receive dive and welder training in order to pursue a career in underwater welding. Some underwater welders come from a welding background, learning to weld and then getting their dive certification to work as underwater welders. Others begin their careers as commercial divers before deciding to advance their careers learning to weld. In either case, extensive discussions of safety procedures are included in the training, and people must pass certification tests before they can begin working.
An entry-level underwater welder can work in a variety of situations. In some cases, if a company has an employee who it believes would be a good fit for an underwater welding position, it will pay for welding or dive training. With more experience, a welder-diver may be able to work on larger and more complex projects, as well as serve as a consultant for other companies and provide training to those interested in underwater welding. The majority of professional welder-divers are also members of trade organizations that promote high performance in the field.