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Hey guys...I was looking at maybe finding a career in diving that pays decently, and started looking at commercial diving, particularly underwater welding...anyone have any experience with this? Any advice, comments, tips, hint, etc.? I found a program that will be easy enough to get into (and affordable too since it's through a CC) after I graduate from UCSB since it's in Santa Barbara as well.
The only thing that would be an issue about the program is the swim test, and if I do UCSB first, I'll have two years to get in good enough shape so I guess I'm not too worried about that. The program is about $1,300 plus tuition (which I'd get for free since I get a tuition waiver due to my low income) which doesn't seem too bad....looks like the program is pretty well-respected. Anyway, let me know guys, I'm pretty interested to find out about this!
On a large pile of smokin' A'a, the most isolated population center on the face of the earth. 2,175 miles to Alaska, 2,390 miles to California; 3,850 miles to Japan; 4,900 miles to China; 5,280 miles to the Philippines.
I refuse to believe that corporations are people until Texas executes one.
"Too often ... people enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought" - Leapfrog
"They are the McDonalds of diver certification. Quick, inexpensive and tasty. Pardon me for saying so, but I also believe it to be a health hazard." - DCBC
"It truly does boil down to motivation ... if you believe something is hard, or unnecessary to learn, you won't learn it ... even if it's completely within your capability" - Bob (Grateful Diver)
I suppose there's no issue with whether SBCC is reputable or not then. So what's the entry-level pay for a commercial diver? What can they get up to, and how long would it take? Working conditions, job risk, job satisfaction, benefits, etc.?
Most start as general help or tenders. Pay wise, unless you are doing deep sat, hourly pay is about what any experienced construction worker on dry land would get. After all all a commercial diver is is a wet construction worker. My company sometimes used divers for shallow (15'-20') construction jobs. Charged rate was $1000 to $1500 per 8 hour day. This was for a diver, tender and supervisor. Break it down, after the diving company took their share, that doesn't leave a hole lot per person, for the tender, diver and supervisor.
Deep sat pays a lot better if you have the temperment to be locked up in a closet for weeks at a time.
Fine choice. SBCC is a fine school and has an excellent MT program. Since you are already in SB, the high cost of housing won't be a shock to you. (I lived in SB for almost 30 years, neat place, great diving, etc).
Technical skills such as welding and machine tool use are always useful. I recall one engineer turned marine bio grad student at UCSB who saved an expedition to the Antarctic from confusion when they discovered no one had packed test tube stoppers, so he got on the ship's lathe and other tools and manufactured them from materials on board.
Just curious, why wait until you graduate from UCSB in order to take the classes at CC (unless time, logistic, or other constraints keep you from doing so)? When you graduate from UCSB, you will have satisfied all the general ed requirements for SBCC which are built into the MT curriculumn. Since the diving classes are sequential, not concurrent, why wait until graduation. Why not start now? When I taught at CC and UC as an adjunct, lots of people did concurrent enrollment.
I don't recall the SBCC swim test as being all that onerous. What exactly does it consist of?
Hrm, doesn't sound like they make nearly as much as I was under the impression.
I'm actually not in SB yet, but I will be in a few months, since I'm going to start at UCSB next summer instead of next fall.
I would mainly wait until I graduate UCSB because the classes I will be taking at UCSB will not exactly be fluffy liberal arts classes since I'm majoring in either business economics or aquatic biology (I still haven't decided, sadly). I'm going to have to take around 15 units each quarter at UCSB and I'll be working 12 hours a week (1 shift) as an EMT, so I don't see how I would have time for anything else. However, it seems as if a lot of SBCC's MT courses are 0.3 - 1.0 units, so I guess I probably would be able to do some, since if the units are any indication then the classes won't be that time consuming one at a time.
I'm sure to an excellent swimmer, that swim test is nothing, but I basically had to teach myself how to swim and tread water just for my Open Water class, and barely passed the 200 meters. I never bothered to learn how to tread water, and I could barely swim, so as it is I've leaped miles ahead as far as swimming ability...but it's still not nearly good enough to pass that swim test. Since the swim test is a requirement for any MT diving course, the other reason I was thinking of waiting until I graduate from UCSB is so I had time to get up to speed.
Another thing I'm wondering about, come to think of it, is how physically stressful and strenuous the job is...with a swim test like that, it makes me suspicious that this is an extremely high-stress job with a high burnout rate. I've also heard that underwater welding is extremely dangerous and underwater welders generally don't have that long of a lifespan; although I have no idea how true that may be.
From the sounds of it, unless I could advance in a relatively short amount of time beyond tender, I probably would be making the same as I would working as an EMT for a 911 provider in Santa Barbara...so hell, why switch, and do a potentially riskier job. I also heard job security isn't that good...a lot of underwater welders and/or commercial divers can go out of work for awhile because everything is contractual...it sounds like I need to give SBCC's MT program a call and bombard them with questions about the job field. :P
Tim, you might want to rethink the order of your colleges- It's my understanding that once you have a bachelors degree the costs for community college in California goes up dramatically. Haven't looked into this myself so please double check the info.
Sounds like you have a lot of options, which is a great position to be in.
Yes, commercial diving is physically demanding. It is one of the reasons the Navy (last time I checked) would not accept anyone into the diving program over the age of 27. I knew lots of divers that went through the marine tech program in the 1970s. They told me that by their 30s they were considered "old men" in the oil patch and settled into different kinds of commercial diving or supervisory roles. Lots of threads on scubaboard relate the experiences of "older" students who went to commercial diving school only to find a harsh reality upon graduation...
Yes, talk to the folks at SBCC. They are fine instructors and pretty straight shooters when it comes to providing information.
I did look at the requirements for the MT swim test...
Swim freestyle 1000' in less than 10 minutes.
Breathold swim 75' underwater with no push-off.
Swim 150 feet underwater, surfacing three times.
Perform water treading for 10 minutes (5 mins floating, 3 mins wrists exposed, 2 mins elbows exposed)
Rescue a diver simulating unconsciousness transport 25 yards on the surface using no floatation.
Recover a 10lb. object from 10 feet of water.
Demonstrate the ability to snorkel swim 100 yards with face submerged without a mask
That looks very familiar as it is nearly identical to the swim test for the Research Divers Certification Course (the so-called 100 hours course) that anyone who wants to work doing scientific diving even as a volunteer must pass. In fact, when I worked for Channel Islands National Park we had to do similar tests annually. If you do work in marine ecology and want to work as a diver, the 100 hours course is necessary. (I took mine at UCSB under the legendary Dennis Divins).
Now the good news, with a bit of coaching and practice the test won't be that hard. I know because I was in a similar situation as you were many years ago. I had learned to swim as a kid in what was essentially drown proofing lessons rather than swim lessons. I had to learn to efficiently swim to pass the 100-hours test. I paid a swim instructor to do "stroke coaching" to improve my technique. I have been swimming laps ever since and I now supplement my income as a lifeguard instructor and swim instructor. Once again you are in luck. UCSB has swimming as part of the PE program and it has two or three olympic size pools for practice.
As an EMT, will you be working for the UCSB fire department? Lots of my dive buddies (and sparring partners) worked there and really enjoyed the job. Plus, given the Disneyland that is Isla Vista, they got lots of real world experience on a whole host of injuries...
Also, check out the diving in SB. I often say I would have finished my graduate degree in half the time if it hadn't been for the diving.