Underwater (Hyperbaric) Welding Salary: Based on Task And Location Calculation

With the evolution of technology, welding has gained considerable importance in different manufacturing industries and structural applications. In this article, underwater welding and different aspects of underwater welding will be discussed. Underwater welding is also known as hyperbaric welding is one of the most difficult jobs that exist in this world. However, this fact makes it a high-paying job. This article will highlight different considerations and scales of underwater welding salaries along with different types, applications, safety parameters, and risks related to underwater welding. 

What is underwater welding

Welding is an evergreen profession and it is used in different types of constructions. Welding under normal conditions is not a difficult job and welders can manage it with a moderate set of skills. However, for underwater welding, a highly specialized set of skills is required. Deep down in the sea, the pressure is very high and it is capable of crushing a normal human body. Almost every welding process involves the use of electricity for welding purposes. Electric arcs are mostly used in different types of welding processes. Considering the use of electricity in welding, welding under the water can be a serious risk to life. Underwater welding can be defined as welding under the conditions of elevated pressure.

Types of Underwater Welding

There are major two types of underwater welding. Underwater welding can be wet welding or dry welding. Both of these types of welding are discussed in detail here:

Wet Welding

In this type of underwater welding, the arc of welding is directly exposed to water for the purpose of joining different materials. The equipment used for carrying out this type of welding is specially designed. Electrodes are made up of water-proof material or they are coated with materials that are resistant to water. Similarly, power supplies are made in such a way that water does not affect them. The basic requirement of a welder is that he must be good at diving. Welder dives inside the water and he/she is connected to an operator. Welder gives instructions to the operator for opening or cutting down the supply according to the requirements. In this type of welding, a torch is used for generating the arc that enables it to heat the welding electrode as well as the workpiece. Molten metal from the electrode is transferred to the area of weld with the help of gas bubbles. Flux melting generates slag and it is used for monitoring the cooling rate. In wet welding, the requirements of quality control are hardly met and this is the reason that the use of enclosed chambers for welding operations is preferred over direct welding inside the water. 

Enclosed chambers are used for providing an isolated and safe environment for performing underwater welding. These chambers are very helpful because they provide a clean environment to the welder for breathing as they continuously discharge the dangerous gases that are produced because of the welding process. Another positive point of enclosed chambers is that all kinds of techniques of welding can be used for the welding operations. The major problem that is encountered in this technique is the elevated pressure. Elevated pressure restricts the welder to a specific range of depth and welder cannot go farther than that range. Therefore, this type of welding is restricted to a specific depth at which the sustainability of welder and welding operations can be ensured. 

Dry-wet Welding

In this type of underwater welding, the welder dives inside the water but the part to be welded in kept inside a small-sized dry chamber. This type of welding does not require specially designed equipment of welding because it is kept and operated in a dry environment. However, the dry chambers that are used for the enclosure of work and equipment of welding are specially designed. The use of shielding gas is a must in this type of welding because shielding gas is used at high pressure than the pressure of water. The pressure of shielding gas is adjusted with the depth of water at which the welding operations are to be performed. High pressure of shielding gas provides proper protection to the operation and it also helps in ejecting out water. 

In the most common operations, gas metal arc welding (GMAW) is used for dry wet welding and GMAW is applicable up to the depth of 120 feet. Similar to the wet welding, in this technique, the arc is controlled with the help of a torch. The welder can see and deploy the arc inside the closed chamber by controlling the gun. Highly skilled welders are required for this kind of welding because safety precautions and pressure-handling techniques are very important. In comparison with the other type of underwater welding, this type of welding produces more strong welds and easy handling of weld for the welder. 

What is the highest Underwater Welding Salary

Later in this article, you will find out all parameters that affect earnings. However, without getting into much detail there is a maximum number of dollars that an underwater welder can earn annually. It is possible for professionals to earn up to 280000$ within a year. However, this is not the norm and if you must learn how different factors affect it. Different kinds of underwater welding salaries will be discussed.

what is an average salary

56,000 dollars is the average salary of an underwater welder per year. Hourly income comes out to be $26. In most cases, the salary ranges from 23,000 dollars to 90,000 dollars. Out of all underwater welders, the top 10 percent of the highest paid welders earn on average 84,000 dollars. On the other side of the spectrum, 10 percent of the underwater welders who have the lowest income earn on average 31000 dollars. So, it is safe enough to say that underwater welders should be able to pay their bills and other financial obligations and have an average lifestyle.

What does it take to earn an average salary

The salaries of underwater welders are calculated according to the number of hours they have worked or it can be according to the project on which they are working. For instance, if an underwater welder is getting 35 dollars per hour and he/she works for 8 hours a day then the total salary per day will be 280 dollars. Moreover, if the project requires him/her to work for 15 days, then the welder will get 4200 dollars. Rounding it up for a month, a fresh welder can earn up to 4500 dollars per month and 30,000 dollars per year. Fresh welder means the person who has recently got his certificate as an underwater welder and experienced welder is referred to the welder who has more than three years of experience in underwater welding. An experienced welder can charge up to 60 dollars to 80 dollars per hour and the yearly income can exceed 80,000 dollars. 

Coming to the salaries of underwater welders on a project basis, a skilled and experienced welder can demand up to 30.000 dollars per project and the usual timeline of the project ranges from one to three months. An important thing to be considered here is that some days are wasted while finding another job. Sometimes it takes more than months to get another job for a new welder. 

Estimate the salary if you have gained sufficient experience and you are charging 60,000 dollars project and the inflow of projects is not allowing you to stay free. In such a case, 150,000 dollars to 280,000 dollars can be easily earned every year. 

Before thinking of such high scales of underwater welding, some important factors must be considered. Considering those factors can help you in achieving the peak of your expectations from this career.

How location affects income

Two major categories define the scale of the underwater welding salary. The scope of the work and location plays an important role in determining the pay scale. Locations can be categorized as onshore locations and offshore locations. The salaries of underwater welders according to different conditions will be described separately for the fresh welders and experienced welders.

Offshore Underwater Welding

Projects of offshore underwater welding are usually at a bigger scale. Most of the projects are in the depth of the sea or at ships and oil rigs. These projects include the installations of a wellhead, repair of turbines of ships, survey of legs of anchor chains, site cleaning in the sea bed, repair, and inspection of oil pipelines deep down the sea, etc. 

These projects require high skills of diving as well and it is required that welder must consider the extensive safety precautions while doing these jobs. 

Offshore Underwater Welding Salary

A fresh welder can make up to 30,000 dollars to 70,000 dollars annually. On the other hand, an experienced welder can earn at least 75,000 dollars per year. Even a salary of about 200000 dollars is possible in offshore welding since the risk for this kind of project is increased.

Yearly Schedule of An Offshore Underwater Welder

There are no specific rules and regulations for the duration of an underwater welding project but the general concepts are that an underwater welder spends three to five weeks in the sea and then he takes the rest of five to ten days. But if the salary of the underwater welder is project-based, then there can be variations in this schedule and there are chances that he has to work for extra hours to complete his assigned task. 

Normally, in the northern hemisphere, the offshore projects are active from March to November because the weather during the winter season is not suitable for working. Only the welders who work for ship maintenance work throughout the whole year. 

Highly experienced welders take a break during the winters while the fresh welders spend their time in learning on topside welding jobs. Offshore welding requires a lot of traveling and welders work far away from their homes. This is another reason why offshore welding is highly paid as compared to onshore welding. 

Onshore Underwater Welding

When the word underwater welding pops up, people consider that welders are diving deep into the ocean and they are maintaining or constructing oil pips, ships, etc. This is true but this is not the only case of underwater welding. Underwater welding also includes onshore welding. Similar to the offshore welding, the schedule, income categories and other parameters of onshore welding are discussed here.

Some of the projects that can be categorized as onshore underwater welding are maintenance, repair, and inspection of dam walls, direct wet welding of different water pipes, inspection, and repair of bridges and water towers, recovery and salvaging of sunk boats, maintenance of sewerage piping, disassembling of rotten structures, repair, and maintenance of inlet structures of nuclear power plants, installation or maintenance of dock pillars, etc. However, there can be many other projects that can be categorized as onshore underwater welding. Onshore underwater welding salaries are usually lesser than offshore underwater welding salaries because these projects do not involve life-threatening risks and they can be carried out in all the seasons. 

Onshore Underwater Welding Salary

A fresh underwater welder who is working on onshore projects can earn up to 22,000 dollars to 47,000 dollars per year. On the other hand, an experienced welder can make up to 90,000 dollars per year. 

Yearly Schedule of An Onshore Underwater Welder

Onshore projects are usually smaller in scale as compared to the offshore underwater welding projects. The normal range of hours for an onshore underwater welder is thirty-five to forty-five hours a week. The season of onshore welding projects is opposite to the offshore welding projects. Onshore underwater welding is more required in winters because the structures and pipes get more damage because of the harsh weather. 

how much the salary changes from country to country

Mostly, offshore divers are recognized on an international level and their salaries are credited in the nearest countries. This is because the offshore welders are away from their home countries and they have to spend weeks or months on different welding projects. The salaries are calculated on the basis of the daily wages of an underwater welder. It was assumed that an onshore welder works for 175 days in a year and an offshore underwater welder works for 225 days a year. Different economies, living standards, laws, and other location-related factors dictate ho much money an underwater welder is paid.

It is important to mention here that each country is not using the same methods for recording underwater welding salary. Also, in some countries may occur more expensive projects than others and this fact can greatly affect the average salary in that country. Therefore, you can only get the big picture by looking at these data. I would encourage you to further narrow down your research in individual cities.

Canada

Canada seems to be a good place to work as an underwater welder. The average salary in Canada is in the area of 50,000 – 60,000 dollars. Also, more than half of those professionals are making more than 50,000 dollars per year. However, 20 percent earn less than 20,000 dollars and around the same amount of welders earn between 20,000 dollars to 50,000 dollars. 

United States

Without a doubt, the United States is a great place to work. To begin with, less than 10 percent is making less than 30,000 dollars and in this stat, it outperforms Canada. Half of the workers are making the most 50,000 dollars each year. So, about one out of four is earning 40,000 – 50,000 dollars annually. The same amount of underwater welders is making from 50,000 – 65,000 dollars every year.

When it comes to the upper 25 percent of the highest-paid workers, things get interesting. About 15 percent of welders are making from 65,000 – 105,000 dollars. So, only 10 percent of all underwater welders are making between 105,000 – 280,000 dollars annually.

The salary changes from place to place within the country. In the North-East and North-West states, underwater welders are paid really well. Good salaries are available in other states like Texas and Michigan.

 Australia

The annual income for underwater welders can be considered great in Australia. The average underwater welding salary in Australia for onshore projects is around 60,000 – 70,000 Australian dollars. By comparing this number with the data from the United States and Canada you can understand that there isn’t much difference in wages. However, for offshore projects, the underwater welders charge almost three times more in comparison with onshore projects.

New Zealand       

The average wages in New Zealand are similar to the ones in Australia. In New Zealand, the average underwater salary for onshore projects is around 60,000 New Zealand Dollars. Like in Australia, for offshore projects welders can charge 2 – 3 times more.  

European Countries

Calculating salaries in Europe can be very tricky. Different countries may share a border but the salaries may be completely different. So, I will offer here only the big picture. When it comes to the North-Western countries, salaries for underwater welders are similar to the ones in the United States. In Denmark, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Scandinavian countries an underwater welder can earn on average at least 50,000 euros (or the equivalent amount in each country’s national currency). In the countries of the European South, salaries tend to be less. The average annual salary is close to 30,000 euros in those countries.

Pay Scale Factors of Underwater Welding Salary

Many factors are involved in determining the pay scale of an underwater welder. Understanding these factors is very important to get a better idea about the underwater welding salary. Some of the important factors are given below:

Level of Expertise

The first step in getting experience is training as a commercial diver. Then the welder has the choice of beginning his career as an onshore underwater welder or an offshore underwater welder. Trends vary in different countries. Welders in the area of North Sea prefer to join the profession as onshore underwater welders and they go towards offshore underwater welding after getting some experience. 

On the other hand, American divers prefer to go on offshore underwater welding projects in Mexico and Gulf countries. It is important to consider here that the point of beginning of a professional career does not matter and the welders have to obey the orders of senior welders and owners of maritime business. 

Minimum three to five years of experience is required to start making your fortune based on your experience. 

Conditions of work

The working environment in which the welder is working plays an important role in determining the salary of an underwater welder. Different types of working environments are freezing temperature, zero-degree visibility, and high-wave currents. 

Usually, a welder gains expertise in one of these environments and facing these challenges is very important to make good earning from this field. 

Depth of Water

The depth of water at which the job is performed is very crucial. Greater the depth of water, higher will be the underwater welding salary. Deep divers can earn about 30,000 dollars to 40,000 dollars per month and they can easily make 300,000+ dollars per year. Moreover, if the welder is capable of saturated diving along with long diving, he/she can manage to earn a huge amount.   

Some other factors in this regard are:

  • Offshore distance from home country
  • Handling of equipment
  • Overtime hours etc. 

Education Requirements

The requirements of education for an underwater welder is very minimal. However, it is already described that work experience is the key to step up the ladders of underwater welding salary. “Practice makes a man perfect” fits in the situation of underwater welding. The constant renewal of certificates is very important for continuing this profession. However, learning the skilled diving is the key to a successful career. 

Applications of Underwater Welding:

The major applications of underwater welding include:

  • Temporarily repairing the damages that occur because of collisions of the ships with each other or with other sea objects (e.g. glaciers) or sudden accidents that were not expected.
  • Underwater welding is used when construction is being done offshore for the purpose of tapping newly explored sea resources. For example, while the installation of an offshore oil rig, several components require to be joined with the help of underwater welding. 
  • Offshore welding is done for salvaging and repairs of the vessels inside the sea.
  • Underwater welding is an extremely important technique during the construction of excessively large ships that cannot be manufactured inside the available docks. Thus several components of the ships are then welded underwater in the open sea.
  • Maintenance of offshore oil rigs requires the constant presence of underwater welders as sudden issues can sometimes occur in these oil rigs that can lead to large scale damages.
  • Underwater welding is also employed in the construction and maintenance of barges.
  • During the construction of dams, several components of the machinery need to be attached underwater and thus underwater welding is the most useful technique in this case.

Risks of Underwater Welding:

There are several risks associated with underwater welding:

  • One of the major risks involved with underwater welding is the risk of electrocution and ultimately explosion. This may occur due to problems in the equipment and might result in burns & electric shocks.
  • Hypothermia is also a common risk associated with underwater welding. The temperature inside the sea is lower than the temperature at the sea surface. When the diver’s body experiences such cold temperatures, the heat of the diver’s body is conducted away that can cause problems related to metabolism. Longer exposure to these lower temperatures can result in the failure of organs.
  • Decompression sickness is also a risk related to underwater welding. It occurs due to pressure change on the body due to ascending fast from deep water. The nitrogen in the diver’s tank can bubble and go into the bloodstream of the diver resulting in memory loss, paralysis or death.
  • The biggest risk associated with this process is drowning. There are several causes for this. Incorrectly-maintained equipment can cause this accident. Sometimes, getting entangled to the obstacles present underwater can lead to drowning as these obstacles are not visible in deep dark waters.

Conclusion

Underwater welders work under straining conditions. The skills of underwater welding are not easy to get because the body undergoes vigorous changes when exposed to higher pressures and colder temperatures. The word hyperbaric means working in a high-pressure environment. That’s why the age of underwater welders ranges from 18 to 38. There are many restrictions and risks involved in this profession and this is the reason that underwater welding is a highly-paid profession. 

So, if you are considering to have a career as an underwater welder I would advise you to try scuba diving several times. This way you will get an idea of what to expect in this demanding profession because job satisfaction is another important factor that you must consider. Please share the article if you have found great value in it. Also, you can take a look at other articles that have to do with metalworking.

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