A career as a scuba diver can be a lucrative, exciting endeavor. There are many different types of scuba-diving jobs, each determined by a diver’s level of certification, the kind of work she enjoys and the type of time commitment -- full-time, part-time or seasonal.
Types of Diving Certifications
Scuba is short for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. The Professional Association of Diving Instruction (PADI) is an internationally recognized agency that offers courses that certify divers in open-water diving, rescue diving and in becoming dive instructors. Many divers begin by getting certified as open-water divers. This course teaches you the basic principles of scuba diving, including how water pressure affects your body, choosing dive equipment and planning dives. Beyond this first course, divers can become certified as rescue divers, dive masters, or dive instructors.
Commercial Diving is Most Popular Job
A commercial diver works underwater to inspect, repair, remove or install equipment and structures for drilling rigs, oil refineries and power plants. Using specially made power and hand tools, commercial divers inspect, construct and repair bridges; perform oil-rig platform construction and inspection; conduct underwater salvage; survey seismic activity; repair and maintain wellheads; install water and sewage lines; and take underwater photos and videos. They may also perform search and recovery operations, perform geological appraisals and underwater surveys, and conduct trenching and underwater jetting. A commercial diver works long hours and is away from home for weeks to months at a time, with ten-hour work days common.
Salary and Employment Outlook
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median average salary for a commercial diver is $46,880. Earning potential can reach more than $100,000 per year for well-trained, experienced divers. Many coastal states, including Texas, Washington, Florida, California and Louisiana have the highest number of employment opportunities for commercial divers.
A Dangerous Occupation
Divers work in dangerous conditions. The National Association of Commercial Divers (NACD) has been working with the U.S. Coast Guard to bring its 1978 regulations into alignment with the safety standards outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Even though standards exist, they are not routinely enforced. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in the United States the death rate for commercial divers is 40 times the national average.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images