Everyone wants a secure life & it needs a good amount of money. As a profession, the underwater welding job is quite respected. And it also pays pretty well.
This lucrative career is not suitable for all, especially for those who do not want to go through intense hard work both physically & mentally.
A study of commercial divers and global statistics reveals that the average salary of underwater welders is $53,515 per year & $25.73 per hour. Most of the underwater welders fall between the range of $25,000 – &85,000. But high rewards come with high risks.
It’s crucial to have a deeper idea about the whole sector before stepping into this job. So that, you can make sure your calculator is right & on point.
In this article, I will talk about the ins and outs of earning underwater welders & all the relevant things. Hope you will get a detailed idea of how much do underwater welders make.
Underwater welder’s salary
A study of commercial divers and global statistics reveals that the average salary of underwater welders is $53,515 per year & $25.73 per hour. Most of the underwater welders fall between the range of $25,000 – &85,000.
Despite the diving experience being one of the crucial factors to influence salary, the location plays a very important role here.
Besides, a small number of underwater welders can earn up to $150,00-300,000 annually due to their expertise level.
Why is the salary range so high?
In the commercial diving industry, you as an underwater welder will get paid by the hour or project basis. A solid big contract might give you the chance to earn $25,000-$35,000 in a few months.
Underwater welding is a strenuous job that requires lots of effort from both the brain & your body. And the risk of life is one of the highest compared to any job sector. That’s a big reason behind the outstanding salary.
If you are lucky & consecutively get big projects all year then you will have a big chunk of money in your hand. In every professional arena, you can take the leverage by using some specific factors.
And, in the commercial diving industry, some primary factors will be directly responsible for an underwater welder’s income. These are the following:
- Diving experience
- Certification level
- Depth of work
- Distance offshore
- Diving methods
- Underwater welding equipment
Offshore Diving Career And Income
Ocean is big & compared to many other professions the offshore underwater welder can earn a handsome amount of money each year.
Underwater Offshore welder salary
Rookie ( beginner): $40,000 – $55,000
Veteran ( with 3 to 5+ years work experience): $80,000- $100,000+
Offshore Diver project
You as an offshore underwater welder will be able to work for versatile tasks. Some of them are medium-hard while others are extremely challenging.
Eventually, you will get a big chunk of money at the end of the year. So let’s have a look at what are the projects you will be working on as a commercial diver.
- Inspecting chain anchor legs
- Drilling support
- Saturation diving plus inspection
- Repairing task of cruise/navy ship turbine
- Cleaning subsea sites
- Inspecting & stabilizing underwater oil pipelines
- Installation below major platforms
- Platform & pipeline management
- Wet welding oil rig pipelines
- Installing wellheads
- Hyperbaric wet welding oil rig pipelines
- Underwater photography & recording
Schedule of a commercial Offshore diver
You will be at the sea for at least 4-6 weeks then you will get a break for around 8-10 days for rest & chill. Along with that, if you want to earn more than the overtime option, work for more than 10 hours.
The ocean stays quite calm during the winter season which is from April to November. In other seasons, the ocean becomes rough and the weather becomes unpredictable.
Besides, several offshore commercial divers keep themselves occupied in jobs throughout the year to earn more money.
But some people do it because they are passionate about it. This job includes water vessel maintenance & metalwork welding shops along the coastline.
Some people want to spend quality time with their friends & family. They usually take a big break from their work life.
Onshore Diving Career And Income
Most onshore underwater welder tasks will be taking place in locations like ponds, rivers or lakes, etc. In terms of money-making, the onshore divers also make a good amount of money in their careers.
Onshore Underwater welder salary
Rookie( beginner): $25,000 – $45,000
Veteran ( have experience of 3 up to 5+ years): $50,000 – $80,000
Onshore Diver project
Though the work location is not rough or ultra-challenging, the onshore underwater welding task includes a wider range of projects. Some of them are the following:
- Maintenance, inspection & cleaning of bridges, water towers
- Cutting of underwater wastes
- Destroying decayed underwater structure
- Wet welding freshwater pipes
- Inspection of sewer pipes
- Dam walls inspection plus repairing
- Inspection of water reservoirs
- Installation of cement dock support pillars
- Salvaging plus recovering of sunken boat
- Maintenance of nuclear power station intel structures
Schedule of commercial Onshore diver
If you become an onshore underwater welder then you will be working for around 40 hours per week. And one of the advantages of this job is you don’t need to travel a lot.
Onshore welders pass a hectic work time during the winter & springtime. Because after the storms & harsh water you will have to fix a lot of things related to water vessels plus docks.
Major pay factors that increase your underwater welding salary
Anyone with a high aim must ensure that he is entering the commercial diving industry in the right way. To earn a hell lot of money, you must assure no wrong step in your underwater welding career.
Moreover, you will only get to see a high-level paycheck when you will have baskets of experience with you.
In this industry, the commercial driving experience is the most influential factor for salary increase. More experience will bring more money here. The best way to have more experience is to attend a commercial diving academy & also by diving as a volunteer diver or employee.
You should not expect a quick buck in this sector. Because you gotta climb the ladder & make all your bosses happy to go for a bright career path.
How will you gather experience? It’s the first question you want to solve, Right? You will see that generally, underwater welders get onshore jobs frequently around the North Sea. Then later on they get the chance to join in offshore work projects.
One thing you gotta install in your mind is that while gaining experience you will be able to spend a very little amount of time with friends & family. For the first 1-2 years, if you can take your work experience to a high level through extremely hard work for 10+ hours per day while on contract.
A few years of hard work will not only increase the salary but also ensure fast career growth in the commercial diving industry. However, the road is not easy for sure because unlike desk work this work requires both uses of the brain & body.
The basic requirement for becoming an underwater welder is to have your high school certificate, an acceptable welding training certificate, and finally a reputed commercial certificate from underwater welding school.
A worldwide recognized certificate from the best underwater welding school or academy will be extremely helpful for starting your career at full speed.
Moreover, not only experience is enough for this field. If you can consciously learn a new skill then frequently apply for new diving jobs which will allow you to explore, learn & use the latest techniques along with the latest technology.
Just like any other profession, the underwater welding job comes with its types of challenges. However, they can be extremely dangerous, even life-threatening sometimes.
Three types of challenges are pretty common in this job sector which include zero degrees visibility, freezing level temperatures & high wave currents.
If you want to increase your overall or hourly payment in the contract then you can choose a project where you would be working in low visibility conditions, a complex plus challenging welding project.
Depth of work
Most of the underwater welding task area happens to be below 15 meters of the surface water. However, in the commercial diving industry, there is a significant level of demand for deeper working projects.
Normally, a saturation diver can earn around $45,000- 80,000 per month while annually it’s possible to make more than $450,000. Though it’s a highly competitive branch of commercial diving, if you get a contract then most probably you won’t have to look back!
You will get a depth pay rate which varies from $1-$4 per foot. For the first 100 feet, you will get $1 per foot, and later on, per foot, you will get $2. Your income will fully depend on the length plus depth of the project. Working in-depth like 500 feet, even more, is common among the saturation divers.
Despite the high payment, it won’t be easy for a fresher to prove himself eligible for saturation diving. Most saturation divers have to gain years of experience then they can apply for this job.
If this is your target then you need to become used to staying long hours in a hyperbaric environment. It would help you a lot in this specific sector.
In-depth knowledge & mastery of underwater welding equipment
Underwater welders have to work in a complicated situation where they have to ensure no extra damage is occurring from the equipment.
In this job, some welding equipment comes with very complex operating systems like large-size power tools & cutting torches, etc. They have to stay extremely cautious & handle the work both efficiently plus safely.
Besides, the risk of getting an electric shock is always there. You will be using different types of welding tools, and underwater powerful lights which run on alternate current (AC). Because you have to use them for a long time, the risk of lethal electrocution from equipment malfunction is pretty high.
For all this risk & complexity you will get a higher pay during the contract.
If your working area is too far from the coast, there would be very minimal emergency medical services possible. Though most of the oil rigs & extra-large container ships come with basic medical Aids but with serious injuries like broken bones or any serious internal organ failure there is no option.
Even the emergency medical team from the closest land will take long hours to reach there. As a result, high distance will have an impact on increasing your underwater welding payment.
In the commercial diving profession, you will see three types of diving and these are surface supplied air, mixed gas saturation & scuba diving.
If the diver goes diving with less insulation between him & the surrounding environment then the payment of the contract goes higher.
While on an offshore project, you as an underwater welder will be working for consecutive 2 to 3 weeks. You can earn a big amount of money by doing overtime for up to 12 hours.
As a result, your hourly wage will have a sharp 50% increase which is the market standard. Working overtime is common practice among underwater welders. Because they want to balance the gap of their off-season.
Additional Read: How long does it take to become an underwater welder
Other factors that can influence the salary of an underwater welder
Along with the main factor some side factors can impact your income level in a commercial diving job. Knowing this factor would surely help you grab your career with a strong grip. Let’s see those…
If you can provide excellent performance in high-quality welding as a commercial diver then you will get an immediate reputation. As a result, you can expect a fat salary.
Though a high school guy can become an underwater welder, six months up to 2 years of underwater welding courses are a must for this sector.
However, underwater welders holding advanced degrees like bachelor’s degrees or master’s degrees will have a higher chance of seeing a salary upgrade pretty fast compared to those who do not have an advanced degree.
Due to the nature of the work, the underwater welders need to travel to multiple locations for tasks. The more an employee is ready to travel or relocate the probability of greater income becomes high.
Different work locations come with a different set of guidelines plus payment. A location like coastal areas, international water & one country to another alter the underwater welder’s salary.
Despite having the same working position with the same difficulty, the salary of underwater welders can differ from each other. So make sure to enter into a company that provides a handsome salary for their employee.
While you are entering into the job field if the industry has a higher number of underwater welders then salary can go down. Because there are more people to provide the service for them.
Some skills for increasing your income to the next level
This heroic and courageous job is both a combination of soft plus hard skills. So let’s have a look at what skills can help you to grow fast.
Basically it’s all about math because you have to measure, understand & interpret sketches, etc. So during the training course, if you get yourself better at math then you will become a better welder than others.
During the planning of the welding projects and designing steps of welding, you have to use your analytical ability. If you can increase your analytical power then you can make good & more precise decisions for successful results.
Make sure you become an extremely good listener who listens to the right thing and then gets into work. Align with that, develop your communication skill through building relationships with your colleagues, observing the senior’s practical work, and embracing constructive criticism.
You will be working under high water pressure, low visibility & deep water level; so your hand eyes coordination has to be good. If you are physically strong and hold great endurance, you can easily continue your task in a hostile environment.
Underwater Welding Pay: Different countries & locations
In the commercial diving profession a diver can work at an international level for months or a few weeks. And they will get their payment according to the scale of that specific country where the project is ongoing.
Let’s have a look at the table of payment of different countries in the following:
|Country||Average Salary (per year)||Entry Level Salary (per year)||Senior Level Salary (per year)|
|Germany||72,079 Euro||51,035 Euro||89,239 Euro|
|United Arab Emirates||246,940 AED||182,829 AED||319,689 AED|
|Switzerland||CHF 116,170||CHF 82,086||CHF 143,427|
|Canada||$100,692 (CAD)||$71,295 (CAD)||$124,664 (CAD)|
|New Zealand||$110, 640 (NZD)||$78,404 (NZD)||$137,095 (NZD)|
|United States||$88,339 (USD)||$62,549 ( USD)||$109,371 (USD)|
Where to find commercial diving jobs in the U.S?
It would be a bit tough to say where you will get a job on what scale. However, if you are a citizen of the U.S.A then Louisiana is one of the hubs for underwater welding employment.
Though this specific location guarantees more probability for this job that does not give you the promise of the highest salary.
Let’s look at data collected from in-depth research. Below, I will mention cities that pay more than the national average payment for underwater welding jobs.
|San Mateo, CA||$65,004|
|Daly City, CA||$62,555|
The best 5 underwater welding payment job positions
According to one study, it was revealed that five specific underwater jobs pay more than other jobs in the same sector. However, you have to be eligible for such a position with lots of experience. Let’s have a look at those…
|Job position||Annual Payment|
|Senior Welding Engineer||$135,043|
|Senior Welding Inspector||$101, 310|
|Underwater Acoustic Engineer||$96,000|
Topside welding vs Underwater welding: Which pays higher?
If you look at the average salary of both the top side welding salary & the underwater welding salary, you will notice that underwater welders’ payment is much higher than top side welders.
However, from this, you should not go to the conclusion that topside welders do not earn much. An extremely experienced surface welder can defeat an inland underwater welder in terms of money.
According to statistics, the surface welders’ average salary is $33, 380 which is around $25,000 less than the underwater welder’s salary.
But they will never be able to get high payments like an offshore underwater welder. Specifically, their income won’t be even close to the salary of a saturation diver.
Future Prospects of underwater welding career & payment
No one will disagree that an underwater welding job is one of the toughest jobs of all. As a result, a significant portion of welders shift their careers and enter into a new profession.
Despite the absence of an age limit, the commercial diver’s age varies from 18 to 40. In some rare cases, you might see someone in their fifties still doing their job. If you pass the physical then your certificate will be valid and progress would be easy.
At the time of job shifting, you can move to some relevant working field. But for that, you must have a high plus solid experience & higher education.
Some career paths you can choose are remote-operated vehicle operators, riggers, surface welders, underwater construction consultants, commercial diving schools instructors, AWS certified welding inspectors, etc.
Nothing comes close to your passion & patience while aiming for working in the commercial diving industry. The salary does vary from country to county, even state too.
But one thing that is accepted all over the world is a reputed certificate & ultimate working skill. This area of the profession can change your life & uplift your overall living standards due to the high cash flow.
I talked about details of all the relevant things to underwater welder salary & career. I hope now you have an idea of how much do underwater welders make in their careers.