The 6 Types of Commercial Diving Jobs


There are 6 major job types for commercial divers, including offshore, onshore, HAZMAT, scientific, naval, and police. Here’s a brief look at the salaries, risk levels, and work schedules of each.

Offshore Divers

Wages: High

Risk Level: Medium

Offshore diving is a common starting point for new commercial divers. The position entails underwater welding work, rigging, gap measuring (for material placement), and several other tasks—many of them high paying. The downside to this position is that offshore divers generally spend 4-6 weeks working at an offshore location, and have approximately 10 days off inland. The 4-6 weeks offshore divers spend at work are generally taxing, which is why the pay for this position is higher than some others.

Onshore Divers

Wages: Medium

Risk Level: Low

Onshore diving typically takes place in lakes and rivers. These locations usually entail lower wages, but the work is significantly less taxing, and offers a better quality of life, in which workers do not have to work on ships, barges, or oil rigs for long periods of time. It is also a safer position. Onshore divers can do the same type of work as offshore divers, in terms of welding, ship-hull repair, or pipeline tasks, but they can also perform other jobs, like salvaging, topside welding, and water intake and outtake system cleaning.


Wages: Medium to High

Risk Level: High

HAZMAT divers make a higher wage than most other diving professionals, but the risk involved necessitates the increased pay. HAZMAT divers deal with sludge, oil, and radioactive material. Conditions can be hazardous and dark, as HAZMAT divers often deal with underwater repairs, maintenance, and cleaning, often in chemical vats, and flooded or submerged pipelines. They also work with nuclear material, and have to decontaminate after each completed task.

Suits for HAZMAT divers are made of rubber, have gloves attached to the suit, and use a free-flow helmet. The entire suit is pressurized and sealed.

Scientific Divers

Wages: Medium

Risk Level: Low

Scientific divers perform tasks like marine plant, and animal research, and underwater archaeology, biology, and geology. The instruments they use are typically unique in the diving industry, and their positions involve exceptionally low risks. Scientific divers are generally scientists who were trained for diving tasks. Anyone interested in this branch of commercial diving needs to earn a science degree, or have a science-based work history.

Naval Divers

Wages: Low

Risk Level: Medium

Naval divers work in the navy, and perform similar tasks to on- and offshore divers, including welding, salvage, and maintenance. However, they have extremely strict guidelines, especially in regards to code of conduct, which is a significant difference from other commercial diving positions.

Military and Police Divers

Wages: Medium

Risk Level: High for the Military, Medium for the Police

Diving for the government is very different from diving for private companies, especially in terms of commitment. Military jobs attract divers who are looking for very challenging work, like demolition, bomb diffusion, search-and-rescue tasks, and sabotage. Police divers are often involved in search-related tasks, and look for a wide range of things, from illegal materials to corpses.



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