How Long Do Underwater Welders Stay Underwater

Last Updated on November 16, 2020 by Gary Hargrave

Becoming an underwater welder is just as demanding as pursuing any other job in the world of metal fabrication. But it takes a welder several years to achieve mastery overcoming specific challenges much of which are associated with the professionals’ stay underwater. So, anyone with some interest in this job should know how long they’re going to stay underwater.

An inland diver stays underwater for 40-45 hours per week or 175 hours per month on average. Marine welders stay for an additional 20-30 hours during colder months. Offshore divers have to stay 40-80 hours per week for 4-6 weeks with 1-2 week(s) of break between two projects.

You might have started wondering why I’m talking about an inland diver or an offshore diver instead of an underwater welder. Based on the scope of work and location, underwater welders have to work as either inland divers or offshore divers or both.

Inland Diver And Offshore Diver

The reason why I’ve mentioned their location is because it not only defines their work but also works as one of the major factors to find out how long an underwater welder needs to stay underwater. The duration is mostly determined by their workload, though.

The nature of work involved in different underwater welding projects presents varying demands of experience, skill, and time. This diversity also affects the work schedules that inland or offshore welders are to maintain.

Offshore welders spend a lot longer underwater than professionals engaged in inland projects because of what’s involved (I’ll list some of them later in this article) in the job. However, both groups of divers have to undertake their fair shares of activities including construction, maintenance, inspections, and testing.

In order for me to give you practical estimate of the duration an underwater welder needs to work, I think the best way to understand what each category involves and sets the number of hours required by a welder to work for. So, I’m going to provide you an overview of both inland and offshore welding projects and then the pieces of information this article seeks to present.

How Long Do Underwater Welders Stay Underwater

How Long Do Inland Divers Stay Underwater?

For anyone, being an inland diver means working around lakes and rivers on most occasions. Welders in this line usually spend their time working on bridges, dams, docks, and small ships. You’ll see an inland welder inspecting or repairing sewer pipes, walls of a dam, and removing underwater debris.

For a better understanding of typical workplace surroundings, here is a list of common inland welding projects that an underwater welder is employed on.

  • Cleaning, Inspecting and Working on Bridges and Water Towers
  • Working on Freshwater Pipes (Wet Welding)
  • Recovering and Salvaging Sunken Water Vessels and Fishing Boats
  • Repairing and Inspecting Dam Walls
  • Removing Underwater Debris
  • Demolishing Decayed or Damaged Underwater Structures
  • Inspecting and Working on Sewer Pipes
  • Maintaining Inlet Structures (Nuclear Power Station and Substation)
  • Installing and Repairing Dock Support Pillars (Cement)

The typical schedule for an inland commercial diver includes an average of 40-45 hours each week. This aggregates to a 175 hours of monthly commitment on average. So, an underwater welder who works on an inland project has to stay underwater for nearly as long as 160 hours per month and 2000 hours per year.

Jobs under this category involve occasional weekends so that welders can make it to or from their work sites. But that doesn’t qualify as the working hours and certainly not a welder’s remaining underwater.

A marine welder may need to shoulder a heavier workload, especially in spring and winter months because we usually see more damages of docks and water vessels which require additional work hours and projects. If you want to know how long a marine welder stays underwater, I would say you can think about a few more days of work or additional 20-30 hours.

How Long Do Offshore Divers Stay Underwater?

More often than not, underwater welders who commit themselves to projects being carried out in the gulfs and oceans have to perform repetitive tasks. But these particular characteristics of their work don’t make the whole thing any less adventurous. On the contrary, these welders stay much longer than the ones working on inland projects.

On a typical work day, a welder may measure, repair, and spot-weld some piping on an offshore oil rig. You may have seen some submerging in a diving bell in order to explore potentials for new drilling fields on an ocean floor. The job of an offshore welder cum diver potentially involves a larger payout, but they are to maintain more extensive schedule as well.

  • Cleaning and preparing Subsea Sites
  • Pipeline and Platform Abandonment
  • Inspecting, Stabilizing, and Repairing Underwater Pipelines (Oil)
  • Working on Oil Rig Pipelines (Hyperbaric and Wet Welding)
  • Drilling Support As Required
  • Surveying and Inspecting Chain Anchor Legs
  • Installing and Fixing Wellheads
  • Repairing Cruise or Navy Ship Turbine
  • Saturation Diving with Inspection

For someone fulfilling what is on a commercial job description, the typical schedule can be the same 40-45 hours per week. But most offshore welders have to work much longer. Common offshore projects require 4 to 6 weeks of rigorous activities out at sea. Throughout a typical project, the overtime shifts run almost as long as the regular ones.

It means an offshore welder cum diver has to pass 10+ hours per day on the job. Even, it is not surprising to see that a welder keeps working for 80 hours per week for over a month or as long as a project requires.

What can you make of it?

Whereas an inland diver works around 175 hours a month, an offshore diver may need to work up to 240 hours a month.

After completing a project that lasts over a month or so, offshore welders get to stay 1-2 week(s) at home. They get themselves cleaned and refreshed only to get back to work again for what, maybe, another insane schedule. You might want to believe nobody would take up a job like that, but my friend, the payout for such jobs can be almost double the amount an inland project pays.

Maintaining overtime schedules can be a back-breaking proposition for many, but those additional hours are rewarded with at least 50% increase in one’s hourly wages. Deeper work sites require welders to stay longer underwater, but they bring higher payouts.

While the depth may vary by projects, an offshore welder may be required to dive as deep as 2,500 meters or 8,200 feet with special gear and control techniques. An inland diver doesn’t usually need to go that much deep into the water. Also, dry hyperbaric welding tasks may require professionals to get down into 400 meters or 1,300 feet underwater.

From April to November, you’ll see an offshore diver at work. It is a great relief for these people that they can stay at home until the winter months pass for it is next to impossible for them to work while there are harsh wave patterns triggered by unpredictable weather.

If I am to talk about a work horse, I mean the people who only love to work rather than staying idle or unemployed may look for year-round employments. They can join the workforce tasked with maintaining water vessels. But there is a catch you might want to learn.

Since most of those tasks are performed in welding shops or topside construction sites, work hours spent on those projects don’t count as the real working hours of an underwater welder.

Final Thoughts

I guess you’ve already understood that welders’ work schedules present a considerable contrast between their involvement in both offshore and inland projects. So, I’ve specified the number of hours an underwater welder work underwater.

Here is one thing you must know. The details I’ve provided above are specific to those who already call themselves commercial divers. Underwater welders with any experience and skill may not be requested to be available on all kinds of jobs.

One who is just a rookie doesn’t have to abide by the same schedule as commercial and experienced divers cum welders. Trainees or beginners may have to work for a less intense schedule and hence smaller figures in cash.

One more factor I think you should know is that maritime work may involve welders going deeper than the usual level of depth underwater. It means a few more minutes can be added to the daily schedule. I don’t think that makes much of a difference.

Looking for more information? Just ask me, so I can offer a reply. Stay safe!

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