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Diving as a profession

April 12, 2016
Almost every one of us has at least dreamed about turning our beloved diving hobby into a career. For us it makes perfect sense: when sitting behind an office desk 9 to 5, turning your favourite avocation into vocation might start to sound like something you should have done years ago. But before you get too excited about the idea of making those diving highlights your everyday life, we recommend you keep on reading. Being a professional diver not only requires great physical fitness, but also fearless attitude towards working often under challenging conditions. The main question is, what do commercial divers and professional recreational dive professionals actually do and what does it take to become one? Take a look at our blog post about the world of professional divers and how to become one!

Recreational diving is a big business, and being a qualified diving instructor allows you to work anywhere around the world. Being a professional diving instructor may sound like a dream job: your work is probably located in some tropical holiday resort, and you get paid for diving – it couldn’t get any better, right? However, before you start writing any resignation letters, it’s good to keep in mind that working as a recreational dive professional is not physically but also mentally quite demanding. As an instructor, you are the one responsible for everyone’s safety, and in case any blunders happen, you are the first in line. But after all, being able to dive all day every day and getting paid for it, sounds good to us!

If you are looking for more rugged working environment, commercial diving might be a better career choice. Commercial diving covers a wide range of different activities, although it’s mostly associated with offshore oil industry. In reality, there are many inland commercial diving professions, varying from being a nuclear reactor diver to maintaining and cleaning underwater structures such as bridges, dams or water tanks. Regardless of the field of specification, commercial diving requires a skill set unlike any other – and in case you wondered, being an enthusiastic recreational diver is not quite enough (but it helps, though).

Offshore vs. Onshore diving

Recreational diving professionals can work anywhere around the world. Most of us probably associate recreational diving with warm waters and tropical destinations, but diving instructors can be located even from the coast of Greenland. If you are more into offshore working and hanker after being at the sea, a job on a cruise ship might be the most suitable solution for you. Being a diving instructor on a private yacht or cruise ship is an awesome opportunity to see the world, but it is also hard work: you will have off days onboard, but unlike on onshore diving jobs, you probably won’t be able to exit your workplace. Furthermore, despite the luxurious interior these ships typically have, crew’s cabins might be a completely different world. On the other hand, if you are cruising around the Caribbean, who stays inside their cabin anyway? 😉

Commercial diving on the other hand can be roughly divided into two major categories, which are offshore and onshore. If you are looking for a career in offshore diving, be prepared for great adventures at sea and long working periods: offshore commercial divers usually work for 4-6 weeks in a row, even more than 12 hours a day and then stay inland around two weeks. Offshore is popular among commercial diving novices since it is a perfect opportunity to experience exhilarating new offshore adventures and become a part of a tightly knit team. And it’s a great chance to see the world too: you can find offshore diving jobs from the Gulf of Mexico all the way to the coast of northern Europe. 

For prospecting commercial divers who prefer more steady working hours and appreciate the ability to go home after a day at work, a career in onshore diving might be the best solution. The job description consists of tasks similar to offshore counterpart, like welding and repairing underwater pipelines – the working environment and schedule are quite different, though. If you are after some real onland adventures and working hazardous dark liquids does not cause shivers down your spine, then so-called HAZMAT diving might be your thing. Those toughies work in environments like nuclear plants and septic tanks, wearing pressured and completely sealed suits to avoid any contamination. The wetsuits in our webshop can offer you a good protection during your normal dive, but they might not be protective enough for conditions like these…

Requirements

It might not be a huge surprise for you that in order to become a professional diver, you need to have good swimming skills and be in good physical health. Besides being in good shape, age is one of the physical factors you might need to consider too (especially after reaching your so-called mature years). There is no certain age limit for professional diving, but most divers are restricted from deep diving for physiological reasons after age 45. This might be the reason that many prospective employers prefer hiring professional divers aged between 18 and 35. However,  if making a career out of diving is your dream, we say go for it no matter your age – take your cue for example from Mr. Ray Ives, who worked as a commercial diver at the honorable age of 75!  

Professional diving, like many other physically challenging professions are often seen as a “man’s world”. Even though majority of professional divers are men especially on commercial side, there aren’t any real physical barriers for women to pursue a career in the field. More important than your gender is your eagerness to learn and ability to adapt yourself to almost constantly changing working environment.

If you want to make a career especially out of commercial diving, we strongly recommend you also learn at least some basic mechanics. Knowing how to use a screwdriver will come in handy at some point in most diving jobs, whether you are a diving instructor or an underwater welder. This does not mean you need to be an expert handyman in order to pursue a career in diving, but having some sort of mechanical inclination will definitely help. Maybe even more important than the knowledge of basic mechanics is a strong problem-solving ability: as commercial diver you will probably face a lot of tricky situations underwater where you need to find the little MacGyver inside you. As you might already know, underwater situations rarely go by the book, which is why some creative thinking is often required.

Basic education

As we said before, in order to become a competent professional diver you need a little more than just passion for diving (even though it obviously makes the job more pleasant). The educational requirements for becoming a professional diver are not overly difficult to pass: a high school diploma or equivalency are enough to start from. Diver education varies depending on the career field you are pursuing, but all the courses and training programs contain three components: classroom studies, confined water or pool training and open water training.

As you divers might already know, becoming a recreational dive professional requires passing multiple education levels, progressing from scuba beginner to advanced, then rescue diver and dive guide, finally becoming a certificated dive instructor. This basic education path is used by main recreational diving organizations, such as PADI, SSI, CMAS and NAUI and offers a solid ground for your future career as a dive instructor. To put it briefly, a diver certification or C-card in your wallet is the best guarantee for prospecting employers of your competence to work as a diving instructor.

When it comes to training, striving commercial divers have a lot to choose from: there is a wide range of different commercial diver training programs available around the world, which will take something around two to 12 months to complete. All these courses have one factor in common, that is to say commercial diver certification – to be eligible to work as a commercial diver, you should hold a valid certification. Since there are many certifications known worldwide, a general rule is that you must be certified in the country where you are employed. Once you hold the right certification in your back pocket, you are ready to start job-hunting!

Career in professional diving might not be the easiest one, but in our opinion it can be more rewarding and thrilling than any other – why not see for yourself, right? 😉 We hope this shortish representation about different fields of professional diving provided you some useful information in your possible career planning (or just interesting new information). If this text raised any questions, feel free to ask us – our Divestock crew is always happy to help!

Happy diving! 🙂

Divestock crew

 

 

 

 

 

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