Baptism is a wonderful symbol of salvation. It is as though you are burying your old self and rising from the grave a new, clean creature cleansed by the living water of Jesus Christ. Baptism is important and is a public confession of what Jesus has done in the life of a believer. However, baptism is not necessary for salvation. If it were, Jesus would not have promised the thief on the cross that he would be with Him in paradise.
Furthermore, if baptism were a requirement for salvation, then we could no longer quote the Scripture, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…not by works” (Eph. 2:8-9). Our salvation is a free gift from God, through His grace. Once we repent of our sins and receive that gift, we are saved. Many follow that decision with a public, symbolic profession of their faith by being baptized.