How to Become a Commercial Diver

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Commercial diving is a very important field that involves a variety of diving tasks such as offshore diving, inland and onshore diving, HAZMAT diving, and nuclear diving. Commercial divers are trained professionals that work below the water surface performing many different tasks.


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What does a commercial diver do?

Commercial divers use specialized scuba gear to dive into different bodies of water at various depths to perform various activities. They examine, remove, repair, and install structures and equipment. They also recover wrecked ships and cargo, repair dams, perform construction work, and photograph marine life and structures. Some conduct experiments and tests and rig explosives and others perform work for the oil industry and inspect, maintain, and repair oil platforms and rigs. Commercial divers use special equipment such as full-face masks, diving helmets, dry suits, wet suits, air compressors, hyperbaric chambers, and hot water suits. They also use many different tools such as cutting torches, sledgehammers, underwater welding equipment, and high pressure cleaning equipment.

What kind of training does a commercial diver need?

Commercial divers need at least a high school diploma and they must complete training from an accredited diving school. There are a few accredited diving programs throughout the country. Diving programs provide classroom instruction and practical experience. Students learn a wide variety of topics such as physics, anatomy and physiology, surface supplied diving, deep diving methods, and emergency diving procedures. Many commercial divers specialize in a specific area such as rescue diving, salvage, or construction and repair. Commercial divers also need to be certified in CPR and first aid. They usually gain a commercial diving license at completion of their accredited diving program.

What are the prospects for a career as a commercial diver?

Employment of commercial divers is expected to grow faster than average for all professions from 2006 to 2016 (1). An increase in underwater construction and the growing oil industry will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for commercial divers with extensive experience. Job openings will also arise from the need to replace commercial divers that retire, transfer, or leave the occupation for other reasons.

How much do commercial divers make?

As of October 2009, commercial divers with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $21,600 and $50,050. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earn average annual salaries between $36,303 and $61,674 (2).

A career as a commercial diver is an excellent choice for individuals that have a strong interest in diving. Commercial divers must have great physical stamina and emotional stability. They must have a strong mechanical aptitude and be able to effectively follow complex directions. Good problem solving, perseverance, determination, and good organizational skills are essential. Commercial divers must have excellent communication skills and be able to work as part of a team. They must be able to work under stressful and often dangerous conditions.

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