A commercial diver doesn’t work in a cubicle or punch a factory time clock. Their work involves fields as diverse as underwater construction, salvage and medical research, in locations that range from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to waters beneath the Antarctic polar cap. Specific training is required to work in the field, though. Because of this training, and in spite of working in an environment that’s totally foreign to mankind, a commercial diver’s job is safer than that of a ranch hand or a sanitation worker.
Step 1Call your physician and arrange for a diving physical. Any licensed physician can administer a diving physical. A diving physical ensures you aren’t afflicted with conditions that that are aggravated by diving or might endanger your life while diving. The physical includes significant lab work, X-rays, an EKG, upper- and lower-body strength tests, cardiopulmonary testing, a full neurological exam, an eye exam — including color vision — and basic physical information, including a body mass index and percentage of body fat. Have the doctor complete the medical history form issued by the Association of Diving Contractors International.
Step 2Go to the Association of Diving Contractors International website, adc-int.org. Click on the “Membership Directory” header. Click on the “Member Type” drop-down menu and select “School.” Record the contact information for a school or schools near your location
Step 3Contact the selected schools and request information on their programs, including length of training, cost, what certifications they offer and financing.
Step 4Attend and graduate from the commercial diving school of your choice. Depending on what specialties you study, commercial diving school typically lasts between four and eight months. Underwater welding is included in many schools’ standard curriculum, but most schools limit the basic curriculum to diving on compressed air, which consist of mixed gases. Diving with mixed gasses requires additional training in diving physiology, diving gases and equipment. It also requires additional underwater practice. More intense training, such as saturation diving, takes several months in addition to basic and mixed gasses diving. In saturation diving, divers live in life support modules aboard ship. The module is pressurized to the depth at which work is conducted — usually greater than 500 feet — and connects to a specialized diving bell that’s lowered to the work. In addition to bell and module use, the training includes special emergency evacuation systems use and additional diving physiology courses.
- Most commercial diving schools offer placement services to assist you in securing a job in the commercial diving industry.
- Once employed by a diving company, you will complete a two- to three-year apprenticeship as a diver-tender. During this time, impress diving supervisors and fellow divers with solid diving skills and a good work ethic and you will “break out” as a fully fledged commercial diver.