How to Become an Underwater Welder

If you think you want to become an underwater welder, keep in mind that you not only have to possess certified welding skills, but you also must be a certified commercial diver before you get certified as an underwater welder. You’ll need quite a bit of cash to acquire the proper education and then go through the certification and apprentice process before you can work as an underwater welder. This article outlines the training and hiring process to become an underwater welder.


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    Prepare to spend a substantial amount of money for your education and certification. Although tuition varies from one school to the next, getting the required certifications can cost thousands of dollars. A state-funded technical college, like South Central Louisiana Technical College, is the least expensive option.
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    Become a certified commercial diver. It’s not enough to have SCUBA diver certification, because sport dive training doesn’t include education on the safety and environment of offshore commercial work and the safe use of commercial diving equipment you need.
    • The duration and cost of these courses can vary, but each offers basic commercial diver certification upon completion.
    • Some schools require applicants to pass a written exam and a dive physical before they’ll accept you into their program.
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    Take a dive physical, even if the commercial dive school you apply to doesn’t require one. You may find you have some type of disability that won’t allow you to pursue this occupation, and it’s good to know this before you spend money on unusable education.
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    Get certified as a welder. You can do this with formal training through an accredited welding school and/or by completing the Certified Welder program from the American Welding Society (also known as A.W.S.) and receiving final certification by passing its test at an accredited testing facility.
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    Attend an underwater welding school. This is where you’ll put your two acquired skills, welding and commercial diving, together to become an underwater welder. Most of these schools already expect you to have completed both commercial dive school and certified welding training as prerequisites as they can’t start you out in the basics for this highly specialized field.
    • The length of time required for underwater welding training varies between schools, but can last as little as 6 months or as long as 2 years.
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    Apply to a company who hires underwater welders for an apprenticeship, or what’s known as a “diver tender,” to learn the trade and gain on-the-job training. Most dive contractors require that you have enough knowledge in dry and/or wet welding to pass qualification tests and have the required certification from the A.W.S and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) before beginning work.
    • The A.W.S suggests you contact the commercial underwater welding firm of your choice from the start to learn its own unique policies and procedures and train to its specifications as these can vary between firms.
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    Acquire specific skills required by the underwater welding company that employs you. These skills can vary and the A.W.S recommends formal training to learn the required skills.
    • Primary skills can include underwater fitting, cutting and rigging, drafting, inspection and nondestructive testing, and underwater videotaping/still photography.
    • Qualifications for underwater welders not only vary from company to company, but can also vary from one project to the next.


  • Becoming a certified SCUBA diver is a good prerequisite before tackling commercial diving school.
  • Learning basic stick welding (SMAW) as an apprentice in a workshop gives you a great foundation for work underwater.
  • Underwater welders may work in wet and dry conditions.


  • You must pass a physical annually to keep your commercial diving license.
  • Underwater welding has several dangers associated with it, including decompression sickness (the bends) and electrocution.

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Categories: Tradesman Occupations