When most people think of welders, they see a slightly scorched and blackened man, perched on a stool in a hot and humid workshop, slaving away over hot metal for hours on end - and, for the most part, they're right. But not all welders are stuck in a workshop. There are those who spend their time hanging from ropes, welding at great heights and there are also those who weld deep underwater.
Why would you want to weld underwater?
Well, sadly, when there's a problem beneath the waves of an offshore oil rig, or on the stanchions of a pier, the water can't just be drained away; cometh the hour, cometh the underwater welders. But, how exactly does someone become an underwater welder?
First and foremost, to become an underwater welder, you need to be a
diver, and not just any diver, a really great, expert, commercial diver.
It's said that underwater welders are divers first, and welders second.
You must pass an intensive commercial diving course that will cover
diving skills, underwater safety, emergency procedures, as well as many
other physically and mentally testing aspects.
You must of course, be certified as a welder. You must hold current, and extensive, certification in all types of welding.
Underwater welding course
Next, you need to pass an underwater welding course, which can take as long as two years to complete, sometimes longer for extremely specialist jobs. You will be taught how to use the specific underwater welding tools and techniques that will become a part of your everyday life. Dry welding is preferred, which involves using specially designed water tight enclosures, but you will also have to weld 'wet'. Wet welding typically uses extremely high currents, making the job that bit more dangerous.
The danger of underwater welding
There it is; the D word. Danger. Underwater welding is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world; workers are often injured, fall ill, or even die. The most common cause of injury and death is electrocution, followed by problems with decompression and gas poisoning. There are also long term mental and physical complications to worry about.
So why do people become underwater welders if it's so dangerous? Well, you could ask that about many jobs. The fact is that there are people who are drawn to danger. Oh, did we mention a highly trained specialist underwater welder could earn upwards of £1,000 per day?