What is Underwater Welding?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Underwater welding is a type of welding which takes place underwater. A number of different welding techniques can be used underwater, with arc welding being among the most common. There are numerous applications for underwater welding skills, including repairing ships, working on oil platforms, and maintaining underwater pipelines. People with skills and experience in this field can find employment all over the world.

Workers with underwater welding skills are often needed on oil platforms.
Workers with underwater welding skills are often needed on oil platforms.

In underwater welding, the environment around the welder is wet. He or she wears a dive suit, and uses welding equipment which has been customized for wet environments. This equipment is designed to be as safe as possible for the welder, reducing the risk of electric shock and the development of dangerous situations. Someone who practices underwater welding must be both a skilled welder and a skilled diver, with the ability to safely and effectively prepare a scene for welding and to confirm that the welds are of high quality.

A welder must wear a dive suit when performing underwater welding.
A welder must wear a dive suit when performing underwater welding.

For some welding situations, a diver may create a dry chamber around the objects being welded. This type of welding is known as hyperbaric welding. Welders performing hyperbaric welding must still have diving skills and the specialized skills to weld at high pressure, but they are not working in an actively wet environment. Constructing a dry chamber can be time consuming, but there are a number of advantages to working in a dry environment which can make hyperbaric welding preferable for certain applications.

In order to pursue a career in underwater welding, someone must receive dive training and welder training. Some underwater welders come from a welding background, acquiring welding skills and then pursuing dive certification so that they can work as underwater welders. Others start out as commercial divers who decide to expand their careers by picking up welding skills. In either case, the training includes lengthy discussions of safety procedures, and people must successfully pass certification tests to start work.

An entry level underwater welder can find employment in a number of environments. In some cases, a company will actually pay for welding or dive training if it has an employee which it feels would be a good candidate for an underwater welding position. With more experience, a welder-diver can work on increasingly large and complex projects, and may potentially act as a consultant for other companies and offer training for people interested in underwater welding. Most professional welder-divers also belong to trade organizations which promote high performance standards in the field.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Actually, this goes against everything that I ever learned about welding but many years ago, who would have thought that man would someday look at the earth from the moon?

Technology talks and when it does I try my best to listen.


My name is Quanterris. I want to be an underwater Welder one day. this made me want to work ever harder to be an underwater welder. Thank you.

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