Underwater Welding Programs
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Working as an underwater welder requires specialized training in both welding and commercial diving. Commercial diving schools offer programs that train students in these two areas. Prospective underwater welders must complete an accredited commercial diving program and then become an underwater welding apprentice for two years. After completion of an apprenticeship, underwater welders must be certified through the American Welding Society in order to become a professional underwater welder and find employment. The certification process involves the passing of an exam.
AccreditationProspective students need to find a school that has an accredited commercial dive program. Commercial diving is governed by the Association of Commercial Diving Educators, and there are several certifications that students will be eligible for after completion of a commercial diving program. In addition to commercial diving certification, accredited commercial diving schools should be approved by the American Welding Society (AWS).
Program OptionsUnderwater welding training involves both diving and welding, so prospective students need to enroll in schools that offer a comprehensive commercial diving and underwater welding program. Commercial diving differs from regular dive certification as students must train in many specialized areas of diving. After both skill areas of commercial diving and welding have been met, students can gain certification and then begin work as an underwater welder.
Underwater Welding Schools/Commercial Dive ProgramsThere are only a few schools across the United States that offer programs specifically designed to train students in all facets of underwater welding. These programs are offered through commercial dive schools. These specialized programs contain a commercial diving instruction component and an underwater welding component combined into one program. Commercial diving programs usually take less than a year to complete. Some schools offer accelerated programs than can take as little as five months to complete. Before beginning a commercial diving program, students should complete a physical to ensure that they are competent to become a commercial diver. Most commercial diving schools also require that prospective students have a high school diploma.
The course offerings in underwater welding programs are extensive and specialized and often cover such topics as safety and underwater welding, underwater welding techniques, and training in underwater welding equipment usage. These classes are in addition to commercial diving classes. The programs also provide students with the opportunity to learn about inland diving in lakes and rivers, as well as bridge inspection, diving off of oil rigs, shipwrecks, and salvage. There is also a mandatory amount of practical hours and classroom hours that students will need to complete in order to become certified.
At the end of the program, after both skill areas of commercial diving and welding have been met, the student will be qualified to become certified as a commercial diver and will be able to begin looking for apprenticeships as an underwater welder.
Choosing a Program or DegreeMany technical schools and community colleges across the country offer welding programs. These programs teach students the essentials of welding. If a student chooses to train as a welder, then he or she will need to eventually complete a commercial diving program in order to work as an underwater welder.
Deciding which program is right for a student depends on several factors. If time is a concern, there are commercial diving schools that offer training in an accelerated program. These schools combine the commercial diving and underwater welding programs together and students can expect to spend five months or so in the training. Since there are not many underwater welding programs in the country, proximity to a school could be another factor influencing the decision of which program to enter. If career placement is important, then students should look for schools that offer career placement after successful completion of the program.
FacilitiesSince underwater welding is a job that requires much skill and hands on training, it is important to choose a school that has plenty of training resources available to students. Updated equipment and instructors who are knowledgeable in all of the latest advances in the field are important as well. Schools with access to deep water diving locations and both inland and open-water diving are also attractive options for students looking to get a well-rounded training experience.