Work as a rig welder requires three to five years of welding experience, experience working on a rig and a welder certification. An American Welding Society certification is performance-based and doesn't require prior coursework. However, an apprenticeship or certified technical training is recommended for anyone pursuing a rig welder position.
Industry experts advise experienced welders to first apply for an entry-level rig position as a roustabout or roughneck. Entry-level work provides a foundation for moving up to a welder's helper position and eventually to one of various rig welder positions, while teaching the welder how to navigate life and work on an offshore platform. Even prior certification as a wet welder does not guarantee employment as a rig welder for someone with no offshore experience.
Usually provided by the employer or contractor, additional training and certifications in helicopter underwater escape, first aid and offshore survival are required to work on a rig. Completing these certifications before applying for offshore rig positions increases the likelihood of being hired.
While work as a rig welder requires extensive experience, technical training and certification, it includes opportunities for travel and pays better than most welding positions in construction and manufacturing. Work as a rig welder is dangerous and physically demanding.