Have you been thinking about becoming an underwater welder?
It is perhaps the most dangerous job in the world. But wait. What does an underwater welder do? Repairing offshore oil drilling rigs, ships, pipelines, and so on. The bigger question is, how much does an underwater welder make? (1)
Sit back and read through the article and get to know.
How much does an underwater welder make?
The salary of an underwater welder can go up to $100,000 per year. Their pay is higher than other professionals as they perform difficult tasks under extreme environments and conditions.
Depending on the type of job and its location, it is possible to earn an entire year’s salary in a few months. Commercial divers put the average earning of an underwater diver at $25.96 per hour. The least paid underwater welder should make an average of $30,700.
The salary variance is dependent on various factors. Each factor is part of an equation for being more marketable as an underwater welder, more pay, and more job opportunities.
So what factors determine the amount of pay an underwater diver should get?
I have done some research to give you a knowledgeable guide on how the underwater divers pay is determined.
I believe I will help you answer the question, “how much money do underwater welders make?” and decide whether this is a profession that you should pursue.
What factors determine how much an underwater diver can make?
1. Diving experience
This is the most significant factor that determines underwater divers pay. The starting salary for a rookie diver will be different from that of a diver with three years or more of experience.
Underwater divers work internationally. The pay may vary depending on the country they are working in.
This creates a good impression on employers. If you are a certified diver, they know they can trust you, which means they pay you more.
Underwater projects have different challenges depending on the environment. As an underwater diver, you may be working in areas with zero visibility, high wave currents, or freezing temperatures. These conditions make the project riskier, which calls for higher pay.
5. Depth of work
Payment is also dependent on the length and depth of the project. The deeper the project, the more they pay.
6. Payment for overtime
When working offshore, underwater divers take advantage of the overtime working hours and make more money. The marine welding job is seasonal.
That means a specific welder can earn a large amount of money on one project and then spend a few months before landing another project. The overtime payments complement for such off-seasons.
7. Diving method
Common diving methods include surface supplied air, mixed gas saturation, and Scuba. Scuba is mostly used for recreational or scientific diving.
Regardless of the method you use, the less insulation between you and the environment you are working in, which means higher pay.
Other factors that determine the amount of pay include the level of education, performance, travel frequency, and so on.
How much do underwater welders make an hour?
According to payscale.com (2), the average underwater welding salary per hour is $25.28.
I know you are wondering:
How much do underwater welders make in a month? The average underwater welding salary in a month is $66,267.
Underwater welder salary by geography
What is saturation diving, and how much do saturation divers make?
When a diver makes a dive to over 300 feet (91 m), they experience the pressure of the water around them. The water is about ten times more than the pressure of the water at sea level. It is a form of diving where the diver stays in the deep waters for a long time, and they use gases other than air to breath.
At this depth and pressure, the gases that are in the lungs dissolve into the blood and tissues of the diver. This means that the diver can only remain in that depth for a few minutes, mostly 5 minutes. If he stays for longer, the diver might develop decompression sickness.
Because underwater welders know they will spend a long time in the water, they use a technique known as saturation diving. A saturation dive can take up to three weeks to complete. During this time, the diver eats and drinks in a pressure chamber. Decompression does not happen at this time until the job is done.
With these gruesome conditions, how much do saturation divers earn?
Saturation underwater welders can earn up to $45,000 to $90,000 per month. This can translate to about $500,000 a year.
Do not start thinking of how you can become an underwater saturation diver yet. I know you want the money, but saturation diving is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Saturation divers have to undergo rigorous training in a commercial driving school.
It takes a long time before a diver can take the first saturation dive. The saturation divers receive what is known as “Depth Pay.” (4) This ranges between $1 to $4 per foot. Mostly, the pay is $1 per foot for the first 100 feet. After that, the payment will rise to $2 per foot. The income is dependent on the length of the dive and the depth of the project.
Saturation divers receive additional bonuses due to the time they spend in the waters and the amount of strain that their bodies go through.
Types of underwater welders and their pay
There are two types of underwater welders:
1. Offshore divers
Offshore diving is diving that happens in oceans, gulfs, and seas. The support for the offshore divers is given from the surface, usually from a stationary platform or a boat.
Offshore diving is the entry point to commercial diving for the newly certified divers. The offshore underwater divers are mostly used by oil and gas industries to carry out maintenance of their marine structures. They also use them to remove oil from beneath the sea bed.
Maintenance and oil extraction is not an easy job. The underwater welders need to spend days and sometimes weeks under the water. They have to endure rapidly changing weather, reduced visibility and increased pressure from the water.
The underwater welding job is not for the faint-hearted, but it is well paying. It is dangerous and requires a lot of experience.
How much do offshore underwater welders make?
We can divide offshore divers into two:
Rookie divers and experienced divers.
Rookie underwater welders earn a starting pay of about $40,000-$60,000 (3). For offshore divers with three to five years of experience and more, the starting salary is from $50,000-$80,000.
Typically, an offshore underwater welder will spend 4-6 weeks in the sea, and they can have overtime of over 10 hours on a project.
An offshore season runs from April to November and goes down during the winter months because of the unpredictable weather patterns.
2. Onshore welders
This is also known as inland diving. (5) It takes place in lakes and rivers often near dams and bridges. Their support can be on the surface of Scuba, depending on the depth of the dive. The dives mostly happen in freshwaters, which causes less corrosion on the diving gear.
Unlike offshore underwater divers, inland divers do not do maintenance on oil and gas structures. Their work is mostly supporting civil engineering projects. Their work involves checking bridge structures for integrity. They also work undercurrents and challenging environments.
The diver projects include inspecting and repairing dam walls, cutting underwater debris, inspecting sewer pipes, and so on.
How much do Onshore underwater welders make
Onshore divers can also be classified into two:
Rookie divers and veteran divers.
Rookie divers will have a starting salary of about $25,000-$40,000.
For the veteran divers with three to five years of experience and above, their starting salary can range from $50,000- $80,000.
Onshore divers have a schedule of about 40-45 hours of workdays in a year. They have a busy schedule during the winter and spring periods due to the storm damages of the water vessels.
Comparison between topside welding salary and underwater welder’s salary
This is a tough comparison to make because the two work in very different conditions. The topside welders do not have to contend with saturation and water pressure like their underwater counterparts.
However, money speaking, the underwater welders seem to be getting more.
The welding salary is about $118 an hour, with a yearly salary of $33,380 for topside welders. This is a variation of about $20,000 per year when you compare with the underwater welders. However, note that the conditions in which they work are very different.
I know you were asking yourself, how much do underwater welders make a year? Now you have the answers. The underwater welding job is well paying.
However, as you have seen, this is dependent on various factors that include our level of education, if you are certified or not, your experience, and much more.
As an underwater welder, you work under straining conditions. Your body has to contend with increased water pressure and changes in breathing. It is for that reason that you have to undergo rigorous training in a commercial diving school to give you the skills that you need.
Underwater divers range between the age of 18 to 38. This is because of the intensive labor and work that goes on in underwater welding. Many divers, therefore, opt-out and end up in other professions.
You can continue with your profession as an underwater welder by:
- Getting your certification every year.
- Continuing with more training.
- You can train in other fields like engineering to build your resume and earn more.
- Perform underwater welding in a professional environment.