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Diver Job Description, Career as a Diver, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Varies—see profile

Salary: Varies—see profile

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Divers work underwater, performing many jobs. Large diving contracting companies employ divers to do construction and maintenance work on offshore oil rigs. Other divers work for law enforcement agencies or insurance investigation firms, looking for accident victims, wreckage, or lost valuables. Divers are also members of scientific research teams, collecting or photographing fish, vegetation, or minerals. They also repair ships below the water's surface or secure underwater pilings and are involved in building or maintaining tunnels, dams, or cables. Some divers work at resorts as recreation specialists, acting as instructors or undersea tour guides for vacationers.

Professional divers should have excellent health and endurance. They must know how to use the equipment that serves as a diver's lifeline. This equipment comes in three varieties. The first kind, self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba), allows the diver to carry a supply of air in a tank strapped to his or her back. The second, surface-supplied equipment, feeds the air to the diver through a hose above the water's surface. Diving systems, the third type, bring the diver to the floor of the body of water in a decompression chamber. This chamber serves as a base and supplies air to the diver during underwater expeditions.

Divers perform many jobs. Some are employed by construction companies, law enforcement agencies, scientific research teams, and recreational facilities. (© 2004 Kelly A. Quin. Reproduced by permission.)

Education and Training Requirements

The job does not require any specific educational credentials, but good training in underwater swimming with and without the use of breathing apparatus is essential due to the potential hazards involved in the work. Training is available at private diving schools and through the military services. Certification in the use of diving equipment is mandatory.

For specialized diving work, the industry requires more education and training. For instance, divers engaged in scientific research usually need a college degree in oceanography, physics, or a related discipline. Underwater construction workers need one or more trade skills, such as welding or carpentry.

Getting the Job

Diving schools sometimes offer placement services. Many divers enter the field by working as assistants, known as tenders, who help divers prepare for expeditions.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Divers who pursue higher education have good advancement potential, because they combine scientific expertise with practical skill. Proficient divers may become self-employed, either as contractors or as operators of diving schools or equipment stores.

The demand for divers is increasing and will probably continue to do so because of the heightened interest in the ocean's resources. The petroleum industry will provide the best employment prospects for divers with construction skills.

Working Conditions

Besides the risk of drowning if equipment fails, divers are subject to radical changes in temperature and pressure in deep waters, which may cause health problems. Diving is physically demanding, and the hours may be long or extremely irregular.

Where to Go for More Information

Association of Diving Contractors
5206 F.M. 1960 West, Ste. 202
Houston, TX 77069
(281) 893-8388

Professional Association of Diving Instructors
30151 Tomas St.
Rancho Santa Margarito, CA 92688-2125
(800) 729-7234

Earnings and Benefits

Pay depends on the type of diving and the employer, but instructors generally earn the lowest salaries, while construction experts earn the highest. Depending on the size and frequency of their classes, full-time instructors earn an average of $15,000 to $25,000 per year. Top construction divers in the oil industry earn $40,000 to $100,000 per year, especially when they work under hazardous conditions. Divers who are employed full time by salvage, construction, or other companies receive paid vacations, sick days, and holidays, as well as health insurance.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesAgribusiness, Environment, and Natural Resources