What is a Commercial Diver?

A commercial diver is an individual paid to go underwater to do specific tasks. Commercial diving has a lot to do with construction, retrieval, maintenance, inspection, repairs, and photography.

Commercial divers typically work for construction, engineering, shipping, and oil companies.

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What does a Commercial Diver do?

The job of a commercial diver is to go underwater and carry out certain tasks. These tasks will depend on the employer's business. There are different types of divers, including:

Offshore divers are the most common type of commercial divers. They work for oil and gas companies that have offshore operations. Their job is to help explore, maintain oil platforms, and build underwater structures used in oil and gas production.

The job is very demanding and it is even considered by some as the most dangerous diving job.

A new diver will have a better chance in starting a career in commercial diving by doing offshore diving. This can also offer a lot of opportunities to travel abroad.

Onshore divers are more concerned with engineering projects. Here, qualified divers work mostly in freshwater such as rivers, lakes, and even dams. Divers help survey or build bridges and dams.

This is not as difficult as offshore diving because divers don't have to spend long hours on ships. Onshore divers can go home after a day's work.

Naval divers are the military counterparts of offshore divers. However, they are very different from military divers. Naval divers inspect and clean ships and boats. They may also aid in inspecting underwater wreckage and the recovery of crashed planes and ships.

HAZMAT divers have a more dangerous job than other commercial divers because they deal with hazardous materials. These divers are at risk of contracting diseases and other accidents that might put their lives in danger, which is why employers use safety measures like vaccinations against tetanus, hepatitis, and other diseases; specific places for decontaminating the diver and equipment after a dive; and contingency plans if the diver encounters a problem while underwater.

The work of a HAZMAT commercial diver includes the following:

  • Recovering bodies and lost objects

  • Maintenance of underwater valves

  • Repairing of pipelines

  • Maintenance of pumping equipment to improve landfill sites

  • Welding inside sewers

  • Pollution control work

Scientific divers study underwater species. These divers are also scientists. They usually work with government agencies and universities since they collect underwater samples used in research programs.

Media divers perform underwater filming and photography. They usually work for movie and television companies. They must be trained camera operators and are responsible for planning, researching, preparing equipment, and capturing the shot. This is a job that requires a lot of multi tasking.

What does it take to be a Commercial Diver?

Previous diving experience is not required to start a career in commercial diving since a diver will undergo training to become certified. Getting a job abroad is also easy since many countries do not have qualified commercial divers.

Most diving certifications are internationally recognized. However, there are some certifications, from certain schools, that may not qualify someone to work in specific industries or countries.

It is important that a diver chooses the area he or she would like to focus on since the requirements may vary depending on the branch of commercial diving one wants to focus on.

Generally, to become a qualified diver, one must know how to swim, pass a physical examination, and learn basic Math and communication skills.

One must be ready to undergo rigorous training, especially those who are going to train for offshore and HAZMAT diving. Aside from physical training, expect to spend a lot of time in the classroom to learn things like basic gas laws as well as decompression tables. First aid classes are also taught to make sure divers know how to deal with diving-related injuries. Media divers must be flexible to capture unexpected moments underwater. They must also be ready to deal with extreme changes in weather and other factors that can make their stay underwater challenging.

What is the workplace of a Commercial Diver like?

In the U.S., a commercial diver may spend a lot of hours at work. It is also common for divers to spend days or weeks on site, especially for offshore and media divers, and not be able to have days off. Onshore divers have a more favorable workplace since they work mostly in freshwater and their hours are close to normal. HAZMAT divers have a more dangerous workplace, so employers make sure that they are kept safe through vaccines, proper equipment, and specialized areas where they can decontaminate.

How much does a Commercial Diver earn?

Experience, skills, and place of employment influence how much a commercial diver can earn in the United States. Typically, commercial divers can make as much as $75 per hour.

For beginning offshore divers, the pay is $8 per hour, and $9 for onshore divers. Offshore divers may have a lower hourly wage, but since they have longer work hours, they can make more than onshore divers in a year. Divers with more than five years of experience can make between $35,000 and $70,000 a year.

A diver who is a member of a union can earn substantially more. Starting pay for a unionized diver is $34 per hour. However, finding union jobs can be challenging.

Learn more about being a Commercial Diver