How To Become a Commercial Diver (Plus Skills To Develop)
Updated June 24, 2022
If you are interested in a career where you can work underwater, commercial diving may be an exciting profession for you. Commercial divers can work in a large variety of fields, performing different kinds of underwater work. Learning how to become a commercial diver may help you better determine if a career in diving is the right choice for you. In this article, we discuss what a commercial diver is, what their duties include, which skills they need and provide a list of steps on how you can become a commercial diver.
What is a commercial diver?
A commercial diver is a trained professional diver who performs labor underwater. Their employer typically assigns them a task to complete underwater and they prepare for the dive by putting on their diving equipment and checking the conditions of the water. During the dive, they consistently check their equipment, like pressure gauges and air tank, to see how much time they have left underwater. They typically plan their time underwater according to how much oxygen they have left.
What does a commercial diver do?
As a commercial diver, you can work in a variety of industries, like petroleum, governmental, construction, engineering, shipping and law enforcement. Throughout each industry, here are the duties that commercial divers typically perform:
Maintain equipment: These professionals take proper care of their equipment to ensure it stays in excellent shape. Divers typically consider their equipment to be valuable, so it's essential to maintain it.
Communicate with divers and professionals: Divers use communication tools to communicate with other divers and professionals, to keep them updated on the task they're completing.
Monitor risks: Commercial divers monitor all risks that may cause issues during a dive, like weather-related issues or dangerous sea life.
Perform decompression techniques: Before rising to the surface, commercial divers must perform proper decompression techniques so that the air pressure does not cause them harm.
Observe team members: Since diving equipment can sometimes cause limited visibility, it's important for divers to monitor the areas that their team members cannot see, like directly behind them, to ensure their safety.
Record dives: Commercial divers document their dives so that they can track how long each dive lasted and the date that a dive took place.
Operate equipment: Divers who work in an industrial field, like welding or engineering, may operate machinery while underwater, or work with specialized tools and equipment.
Assist other divers: While working underwater, divers assist their colleagues with projects, like holding a light or setting up equipment.
Take photos: These professionals use specialized underwater cameras that allow them to take pictures of your underwater projects.
Related: 10 Highest-Paying Diving Jobs
How to become a commercial diver
Follow these steps to assist you in becoming a commercial diver:
1. Obtain a diploma or GED
In order to become a commercial diver, you should first obtain a high school diploma or GED. While completing high school or a GED program, you can complete courses that help build up the skills used by divers, like communication skills and physical endurance.
2. Gain experience in swimming
For commercial divers, it's important to have strong swimming skills that can help them with their dives. You can gain experience in swimming to help grow your breath control skills and familiarize yourself with being underwater. To gain experience in swimming, try going to a local pool and swimming laps.
3. Consider schooling
Though it's not necessary to complete diving school, you may gain valuable diving experience and skills that can help you pass a diving certification exam. Many diving schools offer extensive training programs that take one to four years to complete. During these programs, you train to perform long dives, learn how to read pressure gauges, assist in caring for diving equipment and prepare for certification exams. Completing a diving program may help you stand out to employers.
4. Get certified
Most employers require commercial divers to hold a professional diving certification. The Association of Diving Contractors International (ACDI) begins every diver with an entry-level diver certification. Once you have gained experience in commercial diving, apply to advance your certification into being a certified air diver and certified mixed-gas diver. Here are some other certifications you can receive to become a commercial diver:
Unrestricted Surface Supplied Air Diver Certification: This certification allows commercial divers to work globally.
DAN Diving First Aid for Professional Divers: This certification provides commercial divers with information regarding diving safety regulations and standards.
5. Update your resume
Be sure to update your resume to reflect your diving experience and certifications. Employers may want to know which diving certifications you hold, so it's important to include the title of your certification and the institution that you received it from. It's useful to list valuable diving skills on your resume, like safety analysis and mathematics, to demonstrate to employers that you're a qualified candidate.
Related: Guide To Updating Your Resume
6. Apply to jobs
As a commercial diver, you have the opportunity to work in various fields. Once you choose the field you're interested in, research commercial diving positions within that industry. To find commercial diving jobs, use job boards to give you information on companies in search of commercial divers. Consider also asking divers within your network if they're aware of any commercial diving jobs.
Commercial diver skills
Here are several skills that commercial divers use on a daily basis:
Commercial divers use physical endurance while working since they can sometimes be underwater for several hours at a time. The diving equipment can also be heavy, sometimes weighing over 30 pounds, so it's important that divers can swim with the equipment on.
Commercial divers, use excellent communication skills to communicate with other divers or colleagues who are above water, like on a boat or land. Commercial divers typically use equipment that allows them to communicate while they are underwater, so it's essential they use verbal communication to give clear messages.
Commercial divers use problem-solving skills to stay calm and find a solution if an issue arises while they are underwater. When diving, it can take several minutes before divers can make it to the water's surface. If a diver experiences a problem while underwater, they have to use critical thinking to solve that problem. For example, if a diver's equipment breaks, they can use problem-solving skills to find a solution, like informing their fellow divers and conserving as much air as possible.
Commercial divers use mathematics skills to measure how much air they have, which helps them determine the amount of time they have left underwater. They also determine the amount of decompression needed before rising to the surface. Commercial divers have a deep understanding of the proper calculations, since they may need to complete formulas and equations mentally.
Commercial divers must pay close attention to detail so that they can understand the pressure gauges and equipment. Pressure gauges often have small numbers that change frequently, so divers must pay close attention to ensure their pressure gauges have a normal reading.
Commercial divers should have extensive knowledge on how to safely and efficiently perform a dive. Before diving, they should inspect that their equipment works properly, to ensure they have a safe dive. Commercial divers also have an awareness of the length of their dive, including how much oxygen they have and how to adjust the pressure in their helmet based on how deep they go underwater.
Commercial diver work environment
Commercial divers complete the majority of their work deep below the water's surface, so the environment is often dark. Divers often use lighting equipment that helps them to see underwater. Depending on the body of water they're working in, divers may experience exposure to cold water, though they can wear a wetsuit that keeps their body temperature up.
Commercial divers also work in quiet parts of water, if they are working independently, though if these divers are on an underwater worksite, there may be heavy vibrations throughout the water from the machinery. While working, these professionals keep their diving equipment on to maintain an air supply and ensure their equipment stabilizes the water pressure.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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