Whether they’re installing pillars or footings for bridges or piers, testing for underwater oil leaks or recovering wreckage from plane crashes, deep sea — or commercial — divers must be proficient scuba divers and technicians to perform their jobs. Some may be employed by the National Guard or Navy, while others work for private contractors. If you want to be a deep sea diver, you’ll need training in diving and welding, salvage recovery or underwater construction, depending on your specialty. In return, expect to earn an average salary of over $50,000 per year.
Salary and Qualifications
Deep sea divers usually earn more the deeper they dive. Some who work on offshore oil rigs can make over $100,000 annually, according to “Dangerous Jobs Guide.” But the average annual salary for deep sea divers was $54,750 as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which categorizes these divers as commercial divers. The top 10 percent earn more than $93,910 annually. To become a deep sea diver, you need to train for six or seven months in diving, welding, physics or even medicine if you work with marine animals. Once hired, you’ll likely be assisting other divers for up to three years, checking cables, reading gauges and staying in close communication. Other important qualifications for this job are self-reliance, mechanical skills and the ability to stay calm under stress.
Salary by Industry
Average salaries for deep sea divers varied somewhat by industry in 2012. They earned the highest average salary of $69,160 working in support activities for the water transportation industry, according to the BLS. If you worked in the underwater heavy and civil engineering construction industry, you’d make $60,250 per year. As an employee of an architectural and engineering services firm, your annual earnings would only be $48,700.
Salary by State
In 2012, deep sea divers earned the highest average salaries of $84,100 per year in New York, reports the BLS. Their earnings were also relatively high in Washington, New Jersey and California — $80,940, $72,350 and $71,520 per year, respectively. In Texas, your earnings would be closer to the national average for deep sea divers, at $51,310 annually. You’ll earn somewhat less in Louisiana or Florida, at $48,840 or $36,310, respectively.
Jobs for commercial divers, including deep sea divers, will increase 16 percent in the next decade, according to the BLS — about average. You’ll likely find more job opportunities in large coastal cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago. Companies and government agencies always need divers. Only 3,480 worked in the United States as of May 2012, based on BLS data.