Underwater welders can make a very lucrative salary, often over $100,000 per year. Exact wages depend on factors like experience level, project location, diving method, and more. Top underwater welders can earn over $200,000 annually by working challenging deep sea projects with lots of overtime.
Underwater welding is one of the highest paying and most extreme welding career choices. But if you’re willing to take on the risks, it can lead to an incredible salary.
Underwater welding combines the specialized skills of welding with the extreme environment of commercial diving.
Welders who work underwater have to complete specialized training beyond a standard welding degree. This includes commercial diver certification and extensive practice with decompression.
How much can you make as an underwater welder? Pay varies widely, but six-figure salaries over $100,000 per year are common among experienced divers working in challenging conditions.
In this guide, we’ll break down all the details on underwater welder pay. You’ll learn:
- How underwater welding pay compares to other top welding jobs
- What’s involved in underwater welding work
- Hourly, weekly, monthly, and yearly pay rates
- Factors that affect underwater welder salaries
- Income by experience level and project location
- How often underwater welders need to work
Let’s dive in!
Is Underwater Welding the Highest Paying Welding Job?
Any type of welding requires specialized skills and training. Welders are always in demand, which leads to above-average salaries in most cases.
But some types of welders make more than others. The highest paying welding jobs include:
- Certified welding supervisor – Oversees welding operations and personnel on manufacturing projects.
- Military support welder – Welds vehicles, equipment, and infrastructure for military branches.
- Aerospace welder – Welds aircraft, rockets, and related components.
- Pipe welder – Lays and fuses steel pipe for infrastructure like pipelines.
- Underwater welder – Welds repairs on submerged structures like oil rigs.
Underwater welding stands out as one of the most extreme and lucrative welding careers. The reason it pays so well? The challenging nature of the work environment.
What is Involved in Underwater Welding?
To understand the high underwater welding salary range, you need to know what the job entails. Here are the key duties and requirements:
- Work on fully or partially submerged structures like ships, dams, oil platforms, etc.
- Perform a variety of welding techniques like wet welding or dry hyperbaric welding.
- Get commercial diving certification for deep sea exploration.
- Master dive tables, decompression procedures, and avoidance of decompression sickness.
- Study underwater welding methods like hyperbaric dry welding in pressurized chambers.
- Have strong swimming abilities and a high fitness level.
- Be able to work precisely with limited visibility.
- Have an adventurous spirit and be comfortable working independently for weeks at a time.
Underwater welders take on some of the most hazardous welding projects imaginable. That’s why they get paid so handsomely for their work.
Hourly, Weekly, Monthly Salary Ranges
Now let’s look at actual underwater welder pay figures. We’ll start with hourly and weekly rates, then look at monthly and yearly earning potential.
According to Payscale, the average underwater welding salary is $25.28 per hour. That translates to just over $1,000 for a standard 40 hour week.
Some underwater welders work on day rates for an agreed upon lump sum. This can be anywhere from $500 to $1,500+ per day depending on experience level and project scope.
Assuming steady work, underwater welders can easily make $6,000 to $10,000+ per month. Annual salary ranges from:
- Entry level – $50,000 to $80,000
- Intermediate – $80,000 to $120,000
- Highly experienced – $120,000 to $200,000+
The earning potential gets much higher when you factor in overtime and challenging deep sea projects.
Underwater welders can rack up serious overtime – 10+ hour shifts are common when working offshore. Some also choose to work nearly year-round by jumping between projects.
With overtime, bonuses, and deep sea “depth pay”, salaries over $200,000 per year are possible for the most experienced divers.
What Factors Affect Underwater Welder Pay?
Many elements go into determining an underwater welder’s exact pay rate. The main ones include:
- Diving experience – More years of commercial diving means higher pay. Rookies earn far less than veterans.
- Welding experience – Your skill level as a welder also boosts your earnings. Fully certified welders make more than trainees.
- Project location – Difficult and remote dive sites pay more due to hazard/travel pay.
- Certifications – advanced certs like saturation diving open up higher paying work.
- Environment – Jobs in extreme cold, zero visibility, or fast currents bring hazard pay premiums.
- Depth – Work far beneath the surface earns “depth pay” bonuses.
- Project length – More complex, longer jobs equate to bigger payouts.
- Overtime – 10+ hour shifts offshore means ample overtime opportunities.
- Diving methods – Sat diving pays the most. Surface diving earns less than deep saturation methods.
As you gain more experience, pursue advanced training, and work in more challenging conditions, your earning potential as an underwater welder will increase substantially.
Editor’s Note: Always put safety first and follow all protocols when working as an underwater welder. The pay is great but it’s still an extremely hazardous job.
Salary by Experience Level
One of the biggest factors that affects underwater welder pay is your skill level and years of experience. Here’s a breakdown from Payscale on earnings by experience bracket:
- Entry Level (0-5 years) – Average $59,800 per year
- Mid-Career (5-10 years) – Average $84,500 per year
- Experienced (10-20 years) – Average $104,600 per year
- Late-Career (20+ years) – Average $120,000 per year
As you can see, pay can nearly double when comparing entry level to experienced underwater welders. The most seasoned veterans who work in extreme environments can earn $200,000+ per year.
Salary by Project Location
Where you work also affects underwater welding pay. Certain regions offer more lucrative offshore oil and maritime projects.
Here’s a comparison of average annual salary by region:
- South America – $59,000
- West Africa – $65,000
- Middle East – $70,000
- North America – $74,000
- Western Europe – $75,000
- Australasia – $75,000
- Northern Europe – $76,000
The Gulf of Mexico, North Sea, and Southeast Asia tend to be hotspots for underwater welding work and higher salaries.
Pro Tip: Consider specializing in saturation diving or hyperbaric welding to access the most lucrative underwater projects.
How Often Do Underwater Welders Work?
Underwater welding is somewhat seasonal, so work frequency varies. Here’s an overview of what to expect:
- Offshore – Work 4-6 weeks at sea, then 1-2 weeks at home. 10+ hour days are common when offshore.
- Inland – Typical schedule of 40-45 hours per week, year-round. Some weekend work required.
- Marine – Increased work during winter/spring to repair storm damage to vessels.
- Oil & gas – Steady work during warm months when conditions allow offshore projects.
Many underwater welders love the dynamic schedule with extended time off. Some concentrate work into just a few busy months to earn a full year’s pay.
Others prefer steadier schedules on inland projects. The work-life balance depends on your preferences and economic needs.
Earnings Per Week
Based on average hourly pay of $25.28, underwater welders can expect to earn:
- 40 hours – $1,011 per week
- 50 hours – $1,264 per week
- 60 hours – $1,517 per week
With overtime, six-figure incomes are achievable even with several months off per year.
To recap, here are the key takeaways on how much underwater welders make:
- Underwater welding is among the highest paid welding careers due to itsextreme nature and advanced skillset required.
- Top underwater welders can earn over $200,000 per year by working long hours and risky deep sea projects.
- However, pay varies extensively based on experience, project details, certifications, and more.
- Even entry level underwater welders can expect to earn upwards of $50,000 annually.
- With overtime and bonuses, incomes of $100,000+ per year are common for experienced divers.
- Underwater welders tend to work very long hours while offshore, then take extended breaks between projects.
If you’re up for a truly adventurous career, the high earning potential makes underwater welding an exciting – albeit risky – option worth considering. Just be sure to get proper training and education first!
I hope this complete guide answered all your key questions around how much underwater welders make 🤿. Let me know if you need any other details!