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How much money does an underwater welder make?

underwater welding pay rates

How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

Underwater welding is a highly skilled and physically demanding profession that involves welding and cutting metals underwater. The job requires specialized training and equipment, as well as significant physical and mental stamina. As such, underwater welders typically command high salaries, although the specific amount can vary depending on various factors such as experience, location, and employer.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for commercial divers, including underwater welders, was $68,300 as of January 2024. However, some experienced underwater welders may earn well over $100,000 per year, particularly those who work in offshore oil and gas drilling operations or in shipbuilding and repair yards.

Underwater welding can be a challenging and potentially dangerous job, as it involves working in an environment that is inherently hazardous. Divers must contend with risks such as underwater currents, poor visibility, and dangerous marine life, as well as the risk of decompression sickness and other medical issues. However, for those with a passion for diving and a desire to work in a high-paying, physically demanding profession, underwater welding can be a rewarding career choice. How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

Underwater welding pay rates

Underwater welding is a specialized and high-risk profession that involves welding and cutting tasks performed underwater, typically in marine environments. Pay rates for underwater welders can vary based on factors such as experience, certification, location, and the specific industry they work in. Here are some general insights into underwater welding pay rates:

  1. Experience:
    • Entry-Level: Entry-level underwater welders may start with lower pay rates, typically in the range of $25,000 to $40,000 per year.
    • Experienced: With more experience and expertise, underwater welders can earn higher pay, often ranging from $50,000 to $80,000 or more annually.
  2. Certifications:
    • Certification from recognized diving and welding organizations, such as the American Welding Society (AWS) and the Association of Commercial Diving Educators (ACDE), can positively impact pay rates.
  3. Location:
    • Pay rates can vary significantly based on the geographical location. Areas with high demand for underwater welders or those with higher costs of living may offer higher salaries.
  4. Industry:
    • Underwater welders work in various industries, including oil and gas, construction, ship repair, and underwater infrastructure maintenance. Pay rates can differ based on the specific industry.
  5. Specialization:
    • Specializing in specific techniques or welding processes may enhance earning potential. For example, hyperbaric welding, saturation diving, or specialized certifications can lead to higher pay rates.
  6. Contract vs. Salaried Positions:
    • Some underwater welders work on a project-by-project or contract basis, while others may have salaried positions. Contract work may offer higher pay rates, but it could also involve periods of unemployment.
  7. Risk and Hazards:
    • The high-risk nature of underwater welding contributes to compensation. Pay rates often reflect the risks associated with working in challenging underwater environments.

It’s important to note that the figures provided are general estimates, and actual pay rates can vary based on individual circumstances. Additionally, the underwater welding industry is dynamic, and pay rates may change over time. Prospective underwater welders should conduct thorough research, consider additional training and certifications, and stay informed about industry standards and conditions. How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

What are some of the best-paying jobs as a welder?

Hi Reese,

Every time I come across this question or hear a discussion roughly based on a similar subject, I have to laugh because nine times out of ten you’re going to hear ‘Underwater Welding’, and a fair amount of people don’t understand that this requires not only a certification in diving but also more, and expensive, training in technique.

In 1982, I completed one of the most thorough welding courses available in Pennsylvania, where I was stationed at the time. The class began with something like 48 people, but the attrition rate was relatively high. Almost immediately, we lost maybe fifteen or twenty people and more as the course went on and the tasks became harder.

All-in-all, about fifteen people actually graduated, including me, and our final, small class were the ones who were given the low-down on current welding jobs available, handouts for the underwater welding classes being held on the Jersey shore, somewhere near Tom’s River, and a list of non-certified and certified positions willing to hire Airco graduates. No questions were asked. That’s how good a reputation the school had. How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

Underwater welding pay rates

I was a Navy corpsman, 8483, Surgical Technician, petty officer 3rd class, working as a senior corpsman in the Main Operating Room, at Naval Region Medical Center, Philadelphia, so you might wonder what I was doing in a welding shop, learning to weld. Well, I’d always been fascinated with welding, growing up across from a family who raced midget racers and had a huge shop built onto the side of their house.

The father and son were always outdoors welding some metal frame or some broken steering column, amidst shouting at me to stop staring into the glare of the weld. I begged Mr. Barkley and his son, Rod, numerous times to teach me how to weld, but all I got were refusals.

At some point during my enlistment in the Navy, I learned that depending on your rank, the Navy would pay a percentage for any educational courses you wanted to take, so I inquired and found out that due to my rank and time in service, the Navy would pay 80% for an approved educational course. How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

Does IHOP make biscuits and gravy?

Underwater welding pay rates

Here was my chance! I’d already done the research and found Airco Welding Institute in West Philadelphia, so I filled out the necessary paperwork and was enrolled in an intensive welding course, which ran five hours a night, five days a week, for six months and included two certification tests, should you decide to take them.

Our initial class of about forty-seven guys and one hard-as-nails woman sat in the classroom waiting to meet our instructor, and the minute he entered, I just automatically knew this guy would never be forgotten.

His name was Mike Alvanos and he had this permanent smirk plastered on his face, a face only a mother could love. There was a long, ropy, thick, angry red scar running down the side of his face, which only added to his character.

The scar was the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time in some tough Miami neighborhood and having run into a dead-end alleyway, approached by a gang of thugs armed with, of all things, a hoe, of which Mike ended up meeting the business end. I don’t recall ever seeing Mike without some colorful welding cap on his head, whether he was welding or not. It was just in his blood. How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

Underwater welding pay rates

Aside from being an excellent and fun instructor, always full of humor, Mike was a storyteller. All of his stories involved welding, and all would have been easy fodder for a Hollywood action movie. They were all just that interesting, and there was a time when, if you’d walked into our classroom, you would have found all of us sitting there spellbound, listening to Mike’s welding scenarios spanning the globe from the United States to Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Bosnia, and other exotic places around the world, but mostly the Middle East.

“Camels are the grossest animals known to man. Keep your distance, or they’ll spit on you.” Mike would tell us with his natural knack for humor.

After the first few weeks, our classroom time began to dwindle, and we were in the shop more and more, practicing what we’d learned. We studied blueprint, oxy-fuel, heliarc, MIG, and TIG, the different shielding gases and the importance of each, archaic forms of welding, as well as some of the newest technology. Mike also taught us where the real money was in welding.

Mike was essentially a millionaire and had retired from welding, although he occasionally took specialty jobs overseas, mostly in Saudi Arabia, where your money was tax-free. He told us of many types of welding, but he stressed one point.

“It’s not the type of welding you do, it’s the specialty techniques that will make you rich in welding and fabrication. And the techniques, in order for you to make money using them, are exceedingly difficult and require hours and sometimes years of practice.” How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

Underwater welding pay rates

As inquisitive little souls, we naturally wanted some examples, and Mike gave us many, but one in particular, which Mike excelled at, was a technique I believe was called “reverse welding.” That may or may not have been the name since I’ve forgotten a lot Mike taught us, and believe me, in six months he taught us a lot. But the name I’m using here, for now at least, definitely suits the technique.

The picture you see above illustrates exactly how this welding technique can be applied. What you’re looking at is a common hydraulic male or female shaft or cylinder commonly found on backhoes, front-end loaders, bulldozers, and other heavy equipment. It is important for the shaft and cylinder to fit perfectly in order to keep precious hydraulic fluid in place and do what they do. If the shaft gets damaged, the inside cylinder can, in turn, get damaged or corroded, and then hydraulic pressure is lost and the machinery doesn’t work properly.

Well, given where this heavy machinery is employed and the environments it is used in, the probability of cylinders and shafts becoming damaged is relatively common. But should something become damaged, how does one repair it? How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

Underwater welding pay rates

Patch-welding a shaft is no big deal. It’s pretty straight-forward. You simply uncouple the shaft from the cylinder, mark out the area to be ground out and welded, weld the shaft, then polish and hone the surface until it is like brand new. Easy-peasy, right?

But what if the inside cylinder is damaged? Take a look at that picture above again. You’re looking at a cylinder with probably a 2.5- to 3-inch diameter. You remove the shaft, sit your cylinder down on a work surface, stick a welding rod or torch handle inside, and just weld it up, right?

No. Think about it. You’re working inside what is essentially a tube with a diameter of anywhere from 2 and a half to four or even five inches in diameter. Now, look at your hands and picture putting the width of your big hands into this equation. It can’t be done. Even if you had baby hands, it would be difficult to see into the tube and accurately pinpoint the target of your weld.

Enter, reverse welding. I don’t know who invented it, but he or she may have been some distant kin to Annie Oakley. Instead of trying to jam your hands into that tight space, you simply weld over your shoulder, using a mirror. This frees up the ‘My hands are in the way’ issue and allows for better exposure. How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

Easier said than done? You bet.

Keep in mind the fact you’re still wearing a welding shield, bulky heat resistant gloves, welding leathers, and trying to keep your hands steady enough to hit your target and stay at the task until the job is done.

“Takes months and months of training and practice and years to perfect. This isn’t the type of welding you want to be attempting after a night out drinking.” Mike told us.

This is only one of the specialty welding techniques Mike Alvanos had listed on his Curriculum vitae, and along with his numerous welding certifications, his skills were highly sought after. Mike took a job in Saudi Arabia for a couple of months, and the money was so good that he ended up staying two years. His ‘welcome home’ gift was that nasty-looking nine-inch scar running down his face. But, as he told us in class one night, “I just laugh all the way to the bank.”

This all took place back in 1982. There’s a good possibility the whole technique may be automated now, but as long as welds exist, there are going to be scenarios where automation will be inferior to repairs made by the hand of man. And, in your specialty areas, that’s where the ‘green will be seen.” How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

What has your experience been being a Welder?

Ha! Actually, not much. I was fascinated about welding ever since I was a young boy. I entered the medical field (my adopted mother pushed me into that) at age 14 as a volunteer in an emergency room and pursued my medical ‘career’ for many, many years before finally dropping it altogether.

But, somewhere in there, lets see…somewhere around 1982 I think, I was in the Navy and stationed in Philadelphia at Naval Regional Medical Center, working in surgery. I learned from somebody who was taking a course that depending on rank and time served the Navy would pay a percentage of your education bill for classes, courses, etc.

I opened up the Philadelphia phone book, went to the yellow pages, and looked up ‘Welding Schools’. I found Airco Welding Institute in West Philly, and the rest is history…Navy paid 80%, I paid 20%, and I attended 5 hours a night, 5 days a week for 6 months, graduating with my certificate in Oxy-fuel, Stick (AC / DC), MiG, TIG, Plasma arc and even a little cast iron stuff.

I never certified. Some guys did but it cost money and they were looking to careers in welding and I wasn’t. I just wanted to know how to do it.

I married my first wife in Portsmouth, Virginia. She was from Vermont, so when I detached from the Navy, we went to live up in New Hampshire, temporarily living with her dad in Glencliff, New Hampshire (tiny place but beautiful). Across the street was the local post office, run by Phil Belyea, a friend of my father-in-law’s.

One day while I was over at Phil’s, chattin’ with him, he told me the local lumber mill in Warren, New Hampshire had burnt down and they needed to weld up some sawdust ducts. So, since my father-in-law knew I was a welder, he put a bee in Phil’s bonnet and Phil asked me if I’d do the work. How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

Underwater welding pay rates

The deal at the time that he offered me was $10.00 an hour or the privilege of using his garage anytime I wanted. I took the deal on the garage since it was well equipped with arc welders, mig welders, oxy, you name it, as well as a sunken pit so you could work on your car or truck, etc. This was 1983 mind you…and $10.00 an hour wasn’t anything to scoff at.

The job? Basically boring…mild steel, long sheets around 22 feet long and about a foot wide that you basically just tacked together to form a long box shape as if in a square tube or duct.

I used a MIG and well, with a structure like that, you can only weld short sections before you have to stop. You’ve gotta stagger your welds or the duct will begin warping from the heat. So, you tack, weld a foot or two, move to thye other end, weld another foot or two, turn your work over, weld another foot here or there, move to the other side…you get the idea. Boring, and tops maybe a total of an hour welding and three hours positioning. Then you quit and go home….come back the next day….read the chalk blueprint characters Phil had marked down (Airco also taught blueprint reading), and proceeded to do the same.

I think that job took me about a week…maybe a little more, and I was done.

My next “Job” welding was much more fun. It was years and years later, circa 1988 or 89. I was working as a boilerman at a papermill and the company had hired these two twins from Maine Fabricating to fabricate and assemble stainless steel tanks to place in the lower garage back bay, piping them into the plant and into the beater machine to deliver liquid latex that was brought into the mill by huge stainless steel tankers on railroad cars by rail.

Liquid latex dries quickly if exposed to air, so that’s why the company wanted the sealed, stainless steel tanks. How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

Underwater welding pay rates

I made friends with the twins and we even went out for a few brews now and then. Both these guys were high level welders of a class separate than most, so I tailed around after them like a lost puppy, eager to learn from them. I did a few little demos for them using the TIG machine, 2% thoriated rod spikes, Argon / Helium shielding gas and stainless feeder rods. And, if I do say so myself, I did pretty darn good. So, they had me do some small jobs for them (for beers) and unbeknownst to the mills management or I would have gotten fired.

What I was doing was welding up the footings fot these huge stainless steel tanks. They were designed as such so the footings would be bolted directly into the ground (cement) and they had a bolt run through them to attach the tanks. The tanks then had to be slowly lowered by a crane onto the footings and bolted into place.

This was so the tanks could be removed for repairs, or if the mill maintenance team needed to get to other pipes or structures and the tanks were in the way. All you had to do was attach the cranes heavy-duty straps to the pre-welded hoist handles on the side of the tank(s), place tension on the crane, unbolt the bolts on the footings and lift the tanks away.

Down the road, later, this had to be done.

So, there I am (picture this) chewing my fingernails down to the quick, hoping the footings would hang steady. And they did.

Nobody….and I mean NOBODY…knows that story at that plant. The two twins from Maine Fabricating were the only ones, besides me (and now you and a bunch of other people), who ever knew. They trusted me with that and let me tell you…that was a big deal coming from them. Hell, I trusted myself less than they did! LOL!

Hope you enjoyed it cause that was my last welding job, but I only learned cause I was curious! How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

Thanks for your question!

What is it like being an underwater welder? Is it really as dangerous as people say it is and does the pay outweigh the danger?

It was the coldest, the hottest, the most dirty, the hardest job and most miserable career I have ever had and I absolutely loved it, after all these years I still think of it and still have dreams of diving when I’m asleep, I have sea water for blood. It is a very deadly job! You better know All your shit and know it like the back of your hand. One, just one little mistake can cost you your life.

I know of too many guys who lost their lives to “diver error”. Anything and I mean anything can go wrong in a split second. I had a couple close ones in my hat, and they were out of my control (the worst ones to have) you can study, train, and practice to keep diver errors from happening but you can’t control things top side at the same time. For me, all of it and more was worth the pay.

Being an underwater welder is a unique and challenging profession that requires a combination of welding skills, diving expertise, and physical endurance. Here are some aspects to consider when contemplating a career as an underwater welder:

Challenges and Responsibilities:

  1. High Risk:
    • Underwater welding is considered one of the most dangerous professions due to the combination of welding activities, underwater environments, and the inherent risks associated with both diving and welding.
  2. Hostile Environments:
    • Working in deep-sea environments involves dealing with cold temperatures, strong currents, limited visibility, and potential encounters with marine life. These conditions add to the complexity and risk of the job.
  3. Physical Demands:
    • The work is physically demanding. Underwater welders need to be physically fit and able to perform welding tasks in challenging conditions.
  4. Training and Certification:
    • To become an underwater welder, individuals typically need to undergo specialized training and obtain relevant certifications. This includes certifications in commercial diving and welding.


  1. High Earning Potential:
    • Despite the risks, underwater welders often command high salaries due to the specialized nature of their work. The pay can be significantly higher than that of many other professions.
  2. Varied Work Environments:
    • Underwater welders may have the opportunity to work in various industries, including offshore oil and gas, ship repair, construction, and underwater infrastructure maintenance. This variety can make the job interesting.
  3. Job Satisfaction:
    • For those who thrive on challenges and enjoy working in unique environments, the job can be personally rewarding. Completing complex welding tasks in underwater conditions can provide a sense of accomplishment.


  1. Risk Management:
    • Successful underwater welders prioritize safety and adhere to strict safety protocols. Risk management and awareness are crucial components of the job.
  2. Financial Compensation vs. Risks:
    • While the pay for underwater welders can be substantial, individuals should carefully weigh the financial compensation against the associated risks. Some find the financial rewards worthwhile, while others may prioritize safety over income.
  3. Continuous Learning:
    • Staying updated on industry standards, technologies, and safety practices is essential for a successful career in underwater welding.

How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

In summary, being an underwater welder can be a lucrative but challenging career. Individuals considering this profession should thoroughly research the associated risks, undergo proper training, and prioritize safety. Ultimately, whether the pay outweighs the danger is a personal decision that depends on an individual’s comfort with risk, dedication to safety, and career goals.

What is it like to be a welder?

Welding is done in all kinds of industries. It really depends on where you end up working. I’ve been welding for the last 10 years and have held a few positions in that time. I’ve worked in facilities, repair shops, in a lean-to out in the woods, out of a truck, and even a couple of factories over the years.

Generally speaking maintenance work has you working with a greater variety of materials and using different welding processes. You will be working on older things that need repair so it’s generally dirtier work than manufacturing. Wherever I’ve worked in maintenance there were also non-welding duties; you had to be part machinist, mechanic, or millwright as well. With bigger companies that had enough work for dedicated tradesmen I only did welding.

If you’re doing maintenance in a facility/factory/mill you work there every day and, barring emergencies, work a fairly set schedule. Equipment or fleet maintenance can be that way too but but often it’s easier to bring you to the equipment so you end up working out of a service truck and your workshop is wherever the machine happens to be; maybe a quarry miles from town, in a customer’s facility, or on the side of the road. How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

Underwater welding pay rates?

You’re at the mercy of the weather and you usually stay until the job is done; my wife never knew when I’d be home. If the work sites are nearby you can go home every night but if it’s a remote work site you have to live in a camp. Sometimes you’ll work on projects in other communities and stay in a hotel.

Manufacturing is like facility maintenance in that you work at the same location and have a fixed schedule; overtime is rarer than with repair work. Manufacturing differs from repair in that it can be fairly monotonous. You build the same parts for the same product lines and this becomes your life. I spent a year in a factory where half of my time was building the same aluminum weldement out of the same 6 parts over and over again. It was a nice clean shop with regular hours but if you didn’t have the right temperament then it would drive you mad.

Sometimes you get to do a bit of both in a general fabrication and repair shop. One day you’re making brackets for an electrical contractor, the next you’re patching up a radiator, repairing cracks in an engine block, making a roof rack, hardsurfacing an excavator bucket, anything that comes in the door. Maybe you’ll end up in a job shop that does manufacturing but typically in small runs for a variety of customers and product types.

An additional thought:

I’ve found that tradesmen who spent their entire careers in manufacturing are very good at what they do but naturally have no experience outside of their narrow focus. The flip side of this is that the welder with a maintenance background will find manufacturing monotonous and initially aren’t as fast with the repetitive tasks as their colleagues with manufacturing backgrounds.

If you want to really learn the trade to the fullest extent possible then I believe that you need to work in a variety of settings. If you just want to make a living then find a workplace that suits your living situation and temperament. How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

How much money can a deep sea welder make?

A lot, an awful lot. But, it is a very risky job where you, the welder has to be in top-notch condition and alert every second of your time underwater. This is not a job for the “faint-of-heart”. I have a friend from high school (we graduated in the 50s) who did that kind of a job when in his 30s.

After some life endangering incidents, he took welding tickets for many exotic materials and earned an outstandingly high income as a specialty welder, serving off-shore platforms around the globe. He’s now happily retired and lives Spain.

Oh, you didn’t ask but I can tell. What happened to his marriage when he was traveling so much for work? They got divorced and he’s now on his fifth girlfriend, in Spain.

Deep-sea or underwater welders often earn competitive salaries due to the specialized and high-risk nature of their work. The pay can vary based on factors such as experience, certifications, location, the specific industry, and the type of work performed.

Here are some general insights into the potential earnings of deep-sea welders:

  1. Entry-Level Pay:
    • Entry-level deep-sea welders might start with salaries ranging from $40,000 to $60,000 per year.
  2. Experienced Welders:
    • With several years of experience, underwater welders can see a significant increase in their earnings. Experienced professionals may earn between $80,000 and $120,000 per year.
  3. Top Earners:
    • Highly experienced and specialized underwater welders, particularly those with advanced certifications, may earn $150,000 or more annually.
  4. Industry Variation:
    • Pay rates can vary based on the industry in which the welder works. For example, underwater welders employed in the offshore oil and gas industry might earn higher salaries compared to those working in ship repair or construction.
  5. Location:
    • Geographic location plays a role in determining pay rates. Areas with a high demand for deep-sea welding services or regions with a higher cost of living may offer increased compensation.
  6. Certifications:
    • Possessing relevant certifications, such as those from the American Welding Society (AWS) and the Association of Commercial Diving Educators (ACDE), can positively impact earning potential.
  7. Type of Work:
    • The specific tasks performed by deep-sea welders can influence pay rates. Specialized tasks or involvement in more complex projects may result in higher compensation.
  8. Contract vs. Salaried Positions:
    • Deep-sea welders may work on a contract basis or have salaried positions. Contract work may offer higher pay rates, but it could also involve periods of unemployment between projects.

It’s crucial to note that these figures are general estimates, and actual earnings can vary based on individual circumstances and the dynamic nature of the underwater welding industry. Individuals considering a career as a deep-sea welder should conduct thorough research, acquire relevant certifications, and stay informed about industry trends and conditions.


The salary of an underwater welder varies, ranging from $40,000 to $100,000 or more annually. This range is influenced by factors such as experience, location, and the specific industry. Underwater welding is a fascinating field that combines technical skills with the challenges of working in aquatic environments. Thanks ❤️ How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

Thanks for your question!

How much money does an underwater welder make, and what is the job like?

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