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5 of the highest-paying underwater welding jobs for commercial divers in the U.S. and Canada

With thousands of underwater welding jobs available in the United States and Canada, it can be tricky knowing which ones are going to help you advance your career and earn the most money in your field.

Should you work offshore or inland? Who works with salvage divers? How risky is long-term, deep-sea diving?

There are a lot of paths to go down and forks in the road to consider, but it can be difficult to know what kinds of jobs to search for on job sites and message boards. To help out, here are six of the highest-paying careers available to you — ranging from right after graduating from CDA Technical Institute to several years into your underwater welding career.

Marine Pipefitter

The oil and gas industry is a massive benefactor to underwater welders and commercial divers and will likely be where you’re working in your first job right out of CDA Technical Institute’s Commercial Diving Academy.

While it’s true that marine pipefitters are often entry-level jobs, some companies are offering close to $60,000 per year for qualified divers. You must have knowledge and understanding of shipboard piping systems (including repair and installation practices) and also be able to fabricate and install complex fixtures, jigs, supports, and targets to ensure proper alignment during the welding process, but it’s a great foot in the door of the underwater welding industry.

Nuclear Plant Maintenance Specialist

Working in the nuclear industry is a bit riskier more challenging environment but a lot more rewarding financially. Nuclear Plant Maintenance Specialists are typically for former military or experienced divers and can command salaries of $60,000 or more per year when you project the hourly rate out for a year. You’ll be replacing major components at nuclear plants such as steam generators, reactor vessel closure heads, and pressurizers. You’ll also be performing specialty welding and machining repairs to plant primary and secondary systems — including underwater EDM and remote hardware installations.

Quality Assurance Inspector (Ship Vessel Repair)

Repairing ships and marine vessels can be a great entry-level job, but graduating to inspection is going to be the most stable and financially rewarding work.

As a Quality Assurance Inspector, there are a multitude of different tasks you could do, but it all boils down to one thing — you’re working as the eyes, ears, and boots on the ground of the higher ups in the company. They want to make sure everything is running smoothly and you’re in charge of checking their tasks off the list.

Responsibilities can include performing hydrostatic testing of valves, inspecting rudders and rudder stocks upon final installation, and assuring quality, reliability, dependability and safety of all underwater repairs.

Because there are a number of responsibilities that would be included in this job, the hourly pay is good — upwards of $70,000 per year when you calculate it out for a full 12 months — but it’s not for the recent graduate. There are management duties, administrative duties, and more that require years of experience in the field before applying to one of these jobs.

Salvage Diver

Ready to explore shipwrecks and unearth ancient discoveries? Salvage diving gives you a new experience every day. This job is paid hourly and yearly projections put this job in the range of $35,000 for entry-level divers to $60,000* or more for veterans working with more high-profile organizations, such as government agencies or federal law enforcement bureaus.

Salvage divers cut, weld, demolish and figure their way underwater around sites, and can work with private companies, law enforcement, or the U.S. Navy to recover whole vessels, evidence, human remains, and more. And as far as working with scientific institutions, underwater archaeology is an option for veteran divers.

Dredge Operator

With excavation operations increasingly being carried out near bodies of water, more and more companies are looking for skilled commercial divers who have experience with inland and offshore diving to assist in their dredging operations.

A Dredge Operator will need to be experienced in using heavy machinery such as front end loaders, backhoes, skid-steers, and more -- but they’ll also need to have experience working underwater as the purpose of dredging is to remove sand, gravel, or other materials in order to create navigable channels in waterways.

You’ll need a few years experience before becoming an operator (and any sort of managerial experience is helpful, regardless of it was managing people, shifts, systems, or machinery) but salaries are frequently around $50,000 per year or more.

posted 04/15/2017 in Careers, Commercial Diving, Underwater Welding

Tags: commercial diving, careers, marine pipe fitting, nuclear industry, ship repair, salvage, dredging, maritime jobs


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