We have seen the welding of metals which is a very common process and is used in all places for the welding fabrication of Mild steel Stainless steel and other metals. Though this is a critical process involving electrical energy the risks are far lesser when compared to underwater welding. All types of energy, when used with precaution, is a marvelous science and might be life taking if used carelessly.
This principle becomes even more while carrying out underwater welding. Since this is a very difficult skill to learn and might be life-taking, there are few who can successfully become a certified underwater welder. The underwater welding death rate should be a guiding principle to know the responsibility attached to the trade. As a result, the underwater welding pay packages for such are also very high. With the advent of newer technologies and flawless safety standards, underwater welding has become a lucrative job opportunity for aspirants.
Before we know about how the welding is done underwater we must first try to understand what is underwater welding. Welding inside water or in contact with some fluid is such a bad match. We have always known that welding is to be carried out away from water.
If anyone asks what is underwater welding you may straight away answer that it is a Shocking Science. Water is thought to be a threat to the use of electricity. As the name suggests the welding work carried out underwater is called underwater welding.
It is similar to normal welding but is carried out underwater. Only the equipment is modified to suit the aquatic environment and the welder remains submerged in water while welding. This can be carried out by two methods – Wet welding and Dry/Hyperbaric welding.
Now as we know what is underwater welding we need to see how it works. This type of welding is necessarily under pressure welding, that is, under a pressure greater than the atmospheric pressure.
How does it Work?
In Wet welding the welder and the welding torch are in direct contact with the water and the welding is carried out by being submerged in water. Wet underwater welding directly exposes the diver and electrode to the surrounding water and surrounding elements. Divers usually use around 300–400 Amps of direct current to power the electrode. Varied forms of arc welding are used.
This is a comparatively cheaper method but more hazardous. In this method, the cathode is the welding torch and the anode is the welding surface. Waterproof electrodes are used. In this case, plasma is forced through the heavily insulated cathode. Gas like oxygen is thrown out of the cathode through the flux it creates a gaseous environment around the welding spot through innumerable tiny bubbles which separate the electric arc from the surrounding water.
These bubbles separate the welding surface from the surrounding water also. Around 67% of the heat goes to the welding surface and the balance 33% moves back to the anode through the return path. As the welding progress, a slag is deposited uniformly on the welded portion isolating the weld from the surrounding water.
In the forward and return path of the current, a knife switch is used. The circuit is closed when the switch is closed at the time of welding. When the torch is not in use like while changing the electrode the switch is opened to disconnect the flow of current.
The negatively charged electrodes flow from the cathode to the welding surface whereas the positively charged electron passes from the welding surface to the cathode.
Here the source of the power supply has a negative polarity and necessarily a Direct Current (DC) supply. When the current flow is required the welder instructs the above water crew to close the switch and again signals to cut the circuit when not in use by signals.
Another difficulty in this type of welding is the bubbles generated that moves upward continuously and making it difficult for the welder to see the surface. After tedious training, practice and experience the welder learns to weld underwater in such condition.
A dry chamber is blown around the area to be welded and is sealed so that water does not enter. This may be as small as a balloon or like a big room called a habitat. This habitat is pressurized slightly above the atmospheric pressure.
The chamber is blown and under pressure with a mixture of gases like Helium, Argon, and oxygen which are inert and do not burn. So the welder and the welding area are kept dry during welding.
Gases are blown into and out of the habitat to maintain a sustainable environment inside the habitat so that there is no accumulation of Nitrogen or other hazardous gases.
Thus the safe and working environment is maintained inside the habitat for the welders. This kind of welding is mostly used in oil and gas facilities. Here there is a negative cathode and a positively charged electrode like surface welding.
In this case, the source of the power supply may be Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC). As an extra precaution, the electrodes are heavily insulated. Wet welding is cheaper whereas dry welding is expensive. But dry welding is a much safer method for the welder compared to wet welding.
Underwater welding dangers
Last but not least you should also know the dark part of the trade. That is the underwater welding death rate. Like any other trade, underwater welding comes with many profession-oriented hazards. So before you jump onto the profession you should know the bitter part of the trade also. Once you research the danger of the trade like underwater death rate you will also learn to avoid any such happening.
For any diver, there are risks of decompression sickness, hypothermia. Downing in the event of an equipment failure is all possibilities. Welders are posed to the danger of electric shock. Working on certain structures introduces the risk of an underwater explosion too. The welders are reported to have hearing problems after prolonged working along with muscle ache, memory issues, and cognitive ability.
A high level of safety is required for this profession. The safety is two-pronged. One is the safety precautions for diving which is a separate trade. The other is the welding underwater where a separate set of safety norms are to be adapted.
Due to the high hazard connected to the trade, the safety statistics are denoted by a welding underwater death rate. Out of 3000 full-time welders, 5 lose their lives annually. This translates into about 50 deaths out of 1000 in the underwater welding life expectancy term of a welder.
This is pretty high. As per OSHAS, the death rate will go down as new safety protocols are being developed and the use of advanced technologies. Drowning has been found to be the number one cause of death. As per older records and present statistics around 11 underwater welders die every year.
This data is not to deter the aspirants from the lucrative trade but only to caution them with the safety responsibility involved in this profession. A high level of precision and flawless practical knowledge are the demands of the profession along with physical fitness. A small mistake may kill yourself or your colleges.
Apart from the above the underwater welding death rate also depends upon the type of equipment provided by the employers to the welders. Also, the quality of training and supervision is a key factor in ensuring underwater welding life expectancy and safety of the welders.
It is unfortunate when it is identified the fatality is caused due to a small mistake on the part of the welder himself. The person who has met with such an underwater accident should try to approach the authorities for proper compensation.
Welding underwater is one of the dangerous profession but it is more profitable than other welding skills and welders make much more in this category. According to commercial divers and global statistics, the average welding underwater salary is $53,990 annually and $25.96 per hour.
However, most incomes float around $25,000 – $80,000. Diver welders in the top 10% make $83,730 while the bottom 10% pull in $30,700. In a total population of about 10,000 underwater welders, the scope of work is huge and hence the salary is almost guaranteed.
Employers say that it is becoming more and more difficult to find skilled blue-collared workers. Since most of the aspirants are going for university degrees and opting for white-collared jobs. But the fact is the blue-collared jobs are viable and also very highly paid. Underwater welding pay is all the more lucrative.
In the case of underwater welding, it is a very skilled job and is not meant for everyone. Hence, it is evident whoever gets certified in this trade and successfully completes the practical certification they are in high demand in the offshore industry and oil and gas fields. As high as $ 1,50,000 was underwater welding salary offered to an underwater welder for pipeline job since such a skilled worker was so rare at the time.
Do you all know what is the average underwater welding pay of a welder? It doesn’t matter you are in the welding profession or thinking to join this welding profession, before making decisions it is very important for anyone how much money they make in that profession. So it is very essential to know how much a welder makes annually.
Underwater welding future
Employers say that it is becoming more and more difficult to find skilled blue-collared workers. Since most of the aspirants are going for university degrees and opting for white-collared jobs. But the fact is the blue-collared jobs are viable and also very highly paid.
Underwater welding pay is all the more lucrative. In the case of underwater welding, it is a very skilled job and is not meant for everyone. Hence, it is evident whoever gets certified in this trade and successfully completes the practical certification they are in high demand in the offshore industry and oil and gas fields.
As high as $ 1,50,000 was underwater welding salary offered to an underwater welder for pipeline job since such skilled worker was so rare at the time.
Underwater welding is still at a very tender age and a lot of study in this field has found that plenty of research work can be done in this field. With a lot of research work going on and to be done in the future confirms the fact that this is a good and high paying career option in the future. Underwater welding not only involves the skill of a welder but the aspirant should be an excellent diver too.
Underwater welding calls for a lot of technicalities and rigorous training. The profession is also physically demanding. With the improvement of technology, more and more specialized hands will be required in this profession.
The requirement of higher quality specifications, high safety standards, welding criteria, environmental aspects, developed inspection methods will always keep the future of this profession very promising and lucrative.
People who choose this field may become an engineer later on. They may also become divers for other working areas. Many go and become a driving instructor after they are done with welding. Also, there is a golden opportunity to become a certified underwater welding inspector.
Such a highly trained person may also open their own consultancy in the same field on in the related fields and earn a fortune. Experienced underwater welders many times land themselves into management jobs in the companies where they had been working as a skilled worker.
They may also open their contracting farm and themselves become employers. As a result, you should not only look for underwater welding salary but for the underwater welding pay.
Jobs in underwater welding
As already mentioned above underwater welding salary is a very high paying blue-collar job. Those people who are adventurous and do not look for a sedentary office work they should pursue this trade. The lucrative offers come with a lot of hard work and perseverance and an exceptional outlook for perfection.
The aspirant should have a love for diving as well as the welding works. The course is tough and there are very few people who come out with flying colors. If you are willing to take up these challenges this may be the right choice for you. This is not for people who are casual in their approach.
After the completion of the course both in diving as well as underwater welding, there is placement assistant provided by the schools. This is an on-demand trade and hence getting a job is not a problem. The aspirant should be ready to move to any part of the world where the work demands. The basic requirement to join this course are –
A High School Diploma
Ability to swim
Commercial Diving Certification
AWS Certified Welding Training