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How To Become A Commercial Diver

Commercial divers work in hazardous conditions, so this is not a career for the faint-of-heart! Find out all you need to know about getting started working as a diver!

divers working underwater
Average Salary
$ 60,360
Career Outlook
Very Good
Large growth is expected.
Certifications/Licenses
Required
Several required and optional
Education/Training
Less than 1 year
Diving school

Commercial diving is an incredibly exciting (and scary) career that is the perfect opportunity for you adrenaline junkies.

This well paying career can have you traveling the world, working at amazing depths of the ocean, and offer many opportunities to make our world a better place.

In this article we will take you on a “deep dive” of what it takes to become commercial diver, opportunities that await you, and some salary information.

So, go ahead and dive in to learn more about this amazing career!

How To Become A Commercial Diver

To become a commercial diver you will need a high school diploma or GED, passing of a physical, commercial diver training, and certifications from an accredited diving school.

High School Diploma or GED

A high school diploma or GED is required to become a farrier.

Attend A Diving School

Attending a diving school is required to become a diver. They will provide classroom and real-world training to help you gain the certifications needed to start working.

Pass a Physical

Most diving schools will require a basic physical exam to ensure you are healthy enough to meet the challenges a commercial diver faces.

Certification

Decide on the type of diver you want to work as so you know the certifications you will need.

Land that Job

Many diving schools will offer job assistance. Once you complete your training you can start looking for jobs or ask the school to offer assistance in gaining employment.

1 | Attend A Commercial Diving School

The first step is to apply to a commercial diving school.

Requirements will vary, but you can expect to need at least have a high school diploma or GED, be a solid swimmer, and be able to pass an in-depth physical.

Choosing a school that is focused exclusively on commercial diving is the recommended option. They will have a more diverse educational focus for various diving careers and more real-world programs to make you more prepared.

Depending on your career path, you might learn any of the following:

  • Underwater welding
  • Hyperbaric chamber operations
  • Blueprint reading
  • Hydraulic systems
  • Salvage diving
  • Lightweight and rigging
  • Hazmat
  • Offshore

2 | Pass A Diving Physical

This will usually be done by the school and will be required before getting accepted into a program.

The physical will need to be done by an Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) approved physician. If you are prone to seizures, lung issues, nervous system disorders, or sinus issues, this may not be the best career option.

3 | Obtain Certifications

Upon completion of your training at an approved diving school you will typically obtain several certifications. If you attend a community college for your diver training, you may not have as many certifications once the program is complete.

Below are some of the most common diving certifications you can obtain.

  • Association Commercial Diver Certification
  • Divers Academy International® Certificate of Completion
  • ADCI Entry Level Tender/Diver Certification
  • Job Safety Analysis (JSA) Certificate
  • Cylinder Services Fill Station Technician (FST)
  • Nitrox Mixed-Gas Diving Certification of Completion
  • Kirby Morgan Dive System, Inc. (KMDSI) Operator/User Certification of Completion
  • HAZWOPER 40-Hour Hazardous Site Worker Certification
  • Qualified Rigger API
  • NDT Level-1 Liquid Penetrant Training Certificate of Completion
  • NDT Level-1 Magnetic Particle Training Certificate of Completion
  • American Petroleum Institute (API) Rigging RP-2D Certificate of Completion
  • On-Site Neurological Assessment for Divers Certification of Completion
  • DAN Diving First Aid for Professional Divers First Aid, CPR, A.E.D. and Oxygen Provider

There are also certifications that will allow to work as a commercial diver internationally.

  • Unrestricted Surface Supplied Diver certification from the Diver Certification Board of Canada (DCBC)
  • Entry level Diver/Tender–International Endorsement certification from the Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI)
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What Kind of Jobs can Commercial Divers do?

Working as a commercial diver can mean working in a variety of different jobs. Below are some of the many niche diving careers you can earn additional training and obtain certifications in.

  • Hyperbaric chamber operations
  • Grouting
  • Wellhead repair
  • Rock drilling
  • Pipeline repair
  • Flotation device maintenance
  • Underwater painting
  • Shipyard repair
  • Water treatment facility repair
  • Bridge or dam repair and maintenance
  • HAZMAT diving
  • Saturation diving
  • Nuclear diving
  • Oil rig repair

Recommended Skills For Commercial divers

If you are a risk-taker who loves a thrill, and the water – then this may be the perfect career. But there are a few other skills that can help you be a more successful diver.

Mechanical Skills

Having experience with heavy machinery, welding tools, or even equipment repair bring skills that will transfer well to diving careers.

Swimming Skills

You must be a strong swimmer to be a diver. If you do not have a lot of experience swimming, this should be a skill you work on before enrolling in a program.

People Skills

In many diving jobs you may need to be in small spaces with several coworkers. This means learning to deal with all different personality types and being able to manage conflict or issues that arise in a calm way.

Multi-tasking

When working underwater you will need to not only be able to focus closely on the task at hand, but your surroundings as well. Being able to multi-task will allow you to get the job done and keep an eye on those around you.

Pros & Cons Of Being Commercial Diver

Not sure if this job is right for you? Here are a few other things to consider. The pros and cons may vary based on the specific commercial diving job you get. For example if you work as a mixed gas saturation diver you may have more cons than what is listed here!

PROS

  • Great wages
  • Good benefits
  • Ability to travel
  • Training is less than a year
  • Variety of job types
  • Good job outlook
  • Job security

CONS

  • Away from home for long lengths of time
  • Dangerous career
  • May have to work as a “tender” until you can work as a diver
  • Work in very dirty conditions
  • Downtime can get boring
  • Work in very small

How Much Do Commercial Divers Make?

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the median salary for a full-time commercial diver as $ 60,360.