Commercial Diver Job Description
Commercial divers inspect, repair, install, and remove structures, equipment, and items that are underwater in lakes, rivers, oceans, and other bodies of water, and might take photographs or video of things found under the water. Drilling companies, police departments, construction companies, salvage companies, shipyards, and many other types of businesses hire commercial divers for full-time and part-time work or might hire commercial divers who work for themselves as independent contractors. In all cases, commercial divers work within a collaborative environment, working closely with a surface team that remains above the water and sometimes working with dive partners under the water. Commercial divers travel to sites across the nation and often perform work in extreme and dangerous conditions, ultimately reporting to the dive team supervisor while they work.
Commercial Diver Duties and Responsibilities
Daily duties performed by commercial divers vary widely based on the depths they’re diving to and the tasks they’re assigned to perform under the water, the surrounding weather conditions, and the visibility of the water, as well as many other factors. However, there are universal job tasks for commercial divers that are always the same in all conditions and environments:
Commercial divers routinely check all diving equipment and keep it in good working order. This includes cleaning equipment after every dive.
Stay in Contact
Commercial divers stay in contact with the surface team at all times using communication tools.
Before diving, commercial divers monitor the conditions of the weather and the water to accurately prepare for the upcoming dive. This includes checking temperatures and water visibility.
Commercial divers log all completed dives into logbooks, recording details of when dives are made and how much time is spent under the water.
When diving to great depths, commercial divers must properly decompress before rising to the surface and breathing regular air again. This requires following a specific decompression formula based on the depth of the dive and must be done or commercial divers could face fatal complications.
Perform Work Tasks
Commercial divers rig explosives, weld, hook up cables, and perform a variety of other tasks while underwater.
Commercial divers are responsible at all times for their own safety and must stay constantly aware of their equipment readings and underwater landmarks while diving.
Conduct Salvage Operations
Commercial divers go underwater to retrieve specific items and hook up cables to haul them back to the surface.
Commercial Diver Skills and Qualifications
Commercial divers use mechanical ability and math skills to successfully dive underwater and perform various work tasks. Employers hire commercial divers who display all the skills needed to excel in this career:
- Communication – commercial divers stay in constant contact with the rest of the dive team, both surface and underwater
- Mechanical ability – commercial divers work with a variety of tools and equipment, keeping everything in good working condition
- Mathematics – to calculate how much air they have in order to figure out how much time they can spend diving underwater, and factor decompression time into this formula
- Physical ability – commercial divers dive down into waters at all depths, temperatures, and visibility conditions, and sometimes remain underwater for long periods at a time, swimming to specific locations to perform tasks
- Attention to detail – to maintain awareness and take continuous readings of their equipment and gauges
Tools of the Trade
Commercial divers regularly work with the following tools and equipment:
- Diving equipment (helmets, air tanks, gauges, masks, scuba gear, diving suits)
- Communication tools (signal lines, radios)
- Hand tools (sledgehammers)
- Power tools (drills)
- Welding equipment (torches)
- Imaging equipment (cameras, digital recorders)
Commercial Diver Education and Training
Commercial divers must graduate from an accredited commercial diver course before seeking employment in this profession. Many employers also require commercial divers to have their own wetsuit, because this piece of gear is fitted precisely to the individual diver.
No training is provided to commercial divers once they have completed dive school and begin seeking jobs. However, all commercial divers are briefed thoroughly on the job they have to perform and how to use any specialized, non-diving equipment that is required to complete this task.
Commercial Diver Salary and Outlook
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that commercial divers earned $47,210 median annual salary, according to information gathered in May 2017. Commercial divers occupied more than 4,000 jobs in 2016, a number that is projected to increase by 11 percent through 2026. This job growth rate is faster than the national average. Data from PayScale shows that commercial divers earn $23.24 median hourly income.
Most commercial divers who are hired for full-time employment receive basic healthcare coverage from employers. Sometimes, these packages include dental and vision insurance benefits. Some commercial divers receive no benefits from employers, and commercial divers who work as independent contractors are responsible for all their own insurance needs, as they receive no benefits outside of salary.
These books and websites offer job openings, training tips, educational programs, and lots of other information for commercial divers who want to succeed:
Association of Diving Contractors International – This website contains in-depth information about diver certifications, education programs, safety standards, and resources for commercial divers.
Commercial Diving: Discover How to Become a Commercial Diver ~ Insight into the World of Commercial Diving ( Underwater Inspections, Welding, Repair, and Maintenance ) – Learn more about being a commercial diver with this book that covers several different types of commercial diving and the different employers who seek out these professionals.
Divers Institute of Technology – Visit this website to search commercial diver training programs, find career opportunities, and learn more about this profession in general.
Commercial Diver Training Manual, 6th Edition – This easy-to-read training manual is full of information for commercial divers and provides tips for diving physics, using equipment, and maintaining safety underwater.
Scuba Diver Life – Find training programs, learn more about diving gear, read articles, watch training videos, and discover all sorts of content for commercial divers at this website dedicated to scuba divers.
The Commercial Diver’s Handbook: Surface-Supplied Diving, Decompression and Chamber Operations Field Guide – This handbook provides decompression tables, information about diving medicine, and other important tips all commercial divers need to know.
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