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Welcome Commercial Divers and those thinking about becoming one...

Discussion in 'Commercial Divers' started by The Chairman, Mar 23, 2010.

  1. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    Welcome to our new forum for commercial divers. Feel free to share your escapades and how you became one or ask a question about how to go about becoming one.
  2. BarrelRoll

    BarrelRoll Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Dallas
    I'm definitely looking at this route very seriously. I'm an ex Navy Nuke MM (ELT), and I've gotten in to diving more and more, and the economy's pushing me more towards something in demand.

    Looking at CDA in Jacksonville, Ocean Corp in Houston, etc.

    I don't have many questions, because, frankly I don't even really know enough to ask anything intelligently. I'm just looking for an over-all realistic expectation of the industry so I can make an intelligent decision if it's something I want to do or not.

    Thanks for starting the forum! I look forward to reading everything you guys have to say!
  3. muddiver

    muddiver Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: West Coast USA
    Stolen from the DiveMatrix:

    commercial diving

    "Originally Posted by headhunter
    How does someone decide if commercial diving is for them?

    What defines commercial diving?

    What types of commercial diving are there to choose from?

    If someone does decide that they want to train to become commercial divers, does the decision about where one goes to study commercial diving vary according to the type of commercial diving one wants to do?


    1) That is one nobody has really figured out yet... When looking at statistics from commercial dive school graduating classes:

    Of ten gradutes only two will still be actively working in the dive field within two years

    Very few remain beyond ten years

    2) commercial diving - (OSHA def.) Diver: An employee working in water using underwater apparatus which supplies compressed breathing gas at the ambient pressure.

    This standard applies to diving and related support operations conducted in connection with all types of work and employments, including general industry, construction, ship repairing, shipbuilding, shipbreaking and longshoring.
    3) Types of commercial diving include:

    Offshore - working in support of the oil and gas industry, construction, demolition, and inspection of structures involved in the production of oil and gas.

    When your working an offshore project your normally assigned to a platform or vessel, you work a minimum of 12 hours a day seven days a week until the project is completed or you are rotated out with another team member from the company.

    Inland - working in support of shore based construction and demolition projects.

    Working inland your living in a hotel, projects vary from 8 to 12 hours a day. Sometimes weekends, often project involve support of marine structure construction or demolition.

    Support diver - working in support of training operations including NASA, Army flight training, Navy flight training, ect.

    Maintenance diver - Dive team members supporting infrastructure maintenance including fountain water shows, aquariums, theme parks.

    Bridge inspection - private or state level divers normally SCUBA performing maintenance inspections on infrastructure.

    3) the minimum training is the same regardless of type of diving, follow on training can follow a number of specialized paths and are normally funded by the company your working for:

    Answer: OSHA considers an employer to be in compliance with the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.410 when documentation shows that the diver completed training to the appropriate level (such as a surface-supplied air diver certificate, or a surface-supplied mixed-gas diver certificate) at a commercial (private), military, or other federal (such as the Army Corps of Engineers) diving school, or a school accredited by the Association of Commercial Diving Educators (ACDE). An employer also is in compliance when documented evidence shows that a diver's training meets the requirements specified by the national consensus standard published by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Association of Commercial Diving Educators (ACDE)(i.e., ANSI/ACDE-01-1998, American National Standard for Divers - Commercial Diver Training - Minimum Standard). No commercial diver-licensing programs exist in the United States; however, the Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI) issues commercial diver certification cards in accordance with the ADCI Consensus Standards for Commercial Diving and Underwater Operation (Section 3.0). OSHA considers an employer to be in compliance with the 29 CFR 1910.410 diver-training requirements when the employed divers have a valid ADCI commercial diver certification card indicating the appropriate training level.

    There are a couple state funded programs offering training at a fairly reasonable rate:

    Youngs memorial - commercialdiveschool.com

    Santa Barbara City College - http://www.sbcc.edu/marinediving/web...ome/index.html

    Private schools will run from 15,000 to 20,000 normally.

    State funded courses are from 1000 to 3000

    Class duration is normally 6 months.

    Another source of training is the military diving program -


    There is also a prison system training program:


    As far as a vocation, there is nothing I would rather be doing!

    If you have any questions feel free to ask.

    RME-Diver Commercial Diving LLC available nationally for underwater construction, demolition, inspection, salvage.

    RMEDIVER - Home


    There are different types of commercial divers and different types of job or companies as well. I know a few "old" divers, including myself that still jump in, but not as offshore oil monkys.

    Ship husbandry can be a longer term industry because it is typically an eight hour day, dive near shore and shallow work.

    Some engineering companies have professional engineers that strap on an air hat and do manditory inspections of bridges, dams and other structures. The Navy Facilities Engineering Service Center and CalTrans come to mind when one wants to talk government enployed divers and they don't necessarily have to be that young. It's just a small industry so getting in a good, long term position is difficult.

    Also there is the the Army Civil Engineering diver program. Really good diving program and they do a lot of diving that is closer to commercial diving than the Navy.
  4. DCBC

    DCBC Banned

    Ocean Corp has an excellent reputation for turning out good divers. As has been pointed out, there are many flavors of CD. The advantage of on-shore is that you usually get to go home at night. This is beneficial if you have a family. Most on-shore diving uses Air as a gas source, so you are either not requiring decompression, or decompression is relatively short. The downside is that many on-shore operators are smaller and the equipment may not be the latest or the best. The pay varies quite a bit with a standard fee paid on a per dive basis with "dive pay" added dependent upon the depth and a few some other factors.

    The greatest majority of divers start out as a Tender before they get to suit-up. The amount of dives you are chosen to do is dependent upon your skill level. Welders who go into CD are often fast-tracked because of this ability. Similarly a construction background is recognized as an attribute that will improve your chances of employment.

    Offshore divers have often gained experience in the on-shore sector, but this isn't always true. An additional mixed-gas ticket is often required (in addition to air). If you work the offshore, you usually work a two-week on/off rotation, but this may be dependent on the contractor. Pay is higher, but you are away for that period of time.

    Saturation divers are taken from the offshore pool. Psychological testing is done beforehand to ensure that you can keep-it-together. A closed-bell course is required. This is the closest thing to space travel that you can get on the planet, as you are in a steel capsule with a team of guys for an extended period. A standard mission is usually 28 days. The pay is excellent and you usually have 24 days off after each mission, then back to work.

    After you spend some time diving, you have a chance to become a Supervisor. The next step is a Dive Superintendent. This is required if their are two or more Supervisors on the Rig or DSV.

    Hope this helps some.

  5. Superlyte27

    Superlyte27 Cave Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Florida
    First off... The industry is absolutely dead. People with 15 years experience are looking for work. Dive Schools are churning out 20-30 students a month each, and most have no job to speak of. The rush is over. We need a good hurricane season. Schools will paint you the rosiest picture, but believe me there's alot of divers out of work.

    Secondly, for what it costs you to get a Dive Cert here in the U.S. (that is only recognized in the US), you can go oversees and get an IMCA cert. that is recognized world wide and have enough spare cash to pay for your room and board. If you want more honest info, send me a PM. I've been commercially diving since 1998. This is the first time finding work has ever been hard.
  6. DCBC

    DCBC Banned

    As a matter of clarification, IMCA is not directly involved in the training of divers and does not approve individual diving schools. IMCA does recognize ACDE certificates issued by US training schools (such as the Ocean Corporation) which are accredited by the Association of Commercial Diving Educators (ACDE) in respect of training/assessment performed in accordance with US Standard ANSI/ACDE-01-2009.

    IMCA also recognizes DCBC certificates issued by Canadian training schools, including: Category 1 Diver, Surface Supplied Mixed Gas Diver, Unrestricted Surface Supplied Diver, Category 3 Diver and Bell Diver Certificates.

    Although you don't need to leave North America to get IMCA recognition, it may be worth your while to compare enrollment costs with various schools; including those in Canada where the U.S. Dollar goes a bit further. You could of course go to the Netherlands or the UK to get your training (IMCA recognized certification), but you would have to pay in Pounds or Euros. The cost of living is much higher than in NA, but compare the costs.

    As to the market, I agree with Superlyte27 that there are more divers graduating from CD schools than there are diving positions available. This can be compared to many other areas such as university graduates who are unable to get immediate employment in their field of study. This is why I mentioned that previous construction/welding experience is an asset when looking for employment. Ex-Navy divers have a tremendous advantage as well. There isn't any vocation that I'm aware of that "who you know" doesn't become a factor. If you were qualified, I believe that your previous Navy service may well prove beneficial to you in the long run.

    On an international basis, the offshore oil industry is looking up. All of the large companies are gearing-up for a busy future. As one example, Global maintains three modular saturation diving systems in the Asia Pacific/India region. They have expanded their operations to include twelve SSA/MG diving systems, which are involved in marine construction activities. Major projects include a three-year Pipeline Replacement Project for the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India also involving the installation of new pipelines in the Tapti Field. They were awarded another contract to develop the Umm Al Qaiwain gas field in the United Arab Emirates. Other projects are underway in Africa, Latin America and Mexico. Although one of the largest diving companies, Global is only one of many that operate in this industry.

    I've seen a large degree of turnover in personnel in the CD field. This is unfortunate; new divers enter the industry and are put-off by having to stand in a line that often doesn't move very fast (never fast enough for their liking). Many get disillusioned and leave. Many more like the idea of diving, but realize that it involves physical labor, hardship and at times danger. CD isn't glamorous and is often a dirty job. The pay is slow in coming and there are other opportunities that appear to be more lucrative.

    You have to ask yourself what you really want out of your career. How about family? Are you available to travel? How well do you work in a team? etc. etc. CD can be a great career choice, but it's not for everyone.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2010
  7. couv

    couv Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: 13th floor of the Ivory Tower
    Hello there, this new section is a good idea.

    Call me a statistic-I got out of the business after 2 years. That was way back in 1978 so as far as advice on schools ( I went to Ocean Corp in Houston) and the market, I'll leave that part to the guys recently involved. However, here is why I got out. Please consider it before deciding on a career and spending big bucks on school. If you're married or in a serious relationship-especially one with kids, think about the following if you plan on working off shore.

    You'll be spending A LOT OF TIME away from them. If you're not spending a lot of time away, then most likely you'll be hungry and wondering how you're going to pay the bills. Never mind if you KNOW you can be a good Commercial Diver, you may not be able to or want to hack offshore life for long periods of time. One thing you might consider is to get a job working offshore as a cook, roustabout, etc. and live a bit of the life first, then see if that sort of life is for you.

    I'll close with that for now and post bits as I think of them if not covered already.

  8. DCBC

    DCBC Banned

    It would appear that President Obama is opening-up a lot of coastal area to oil exploration. I think the area affected increases the potential derrick area by something like 300%! Perhaps this expected upturn in the U.S. will require a whole lot more commercial divers than the market had originally projected. :wink:
  9. muddiver

    muddiver Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: West Coast USA
    The lack of work is not a new concept in the field. The union divers on the west coast of the U.S. are all cross trained as Pile Drivers, Dock Carpenters and some Welders so that they can find work between projects. The good paying jobs are very sporatic and there are long periods in between. It has always been that way around here.

    The steady work is in the ship husbandry field. But you'll pay the price of having to go for a low wage. It use to be around $12 to $15 per hour in the Los Angeles area with no benifits. My understanding is that the good work is in the San Diego area, but you have to be able to pass a background check to do the Navy jobs.

    Seattle might pick up soon with all the dam and fish ladder work. Not sure.
  10. DCBC

    DCBC Banned

    Although the on-shore commercial work has been reduced in the U.S. to some degree, the oil companies are planning to spend billions in offshore oil exploration and upgrading current systems internationally. China and India are really getting into it; with the Chinese pouring money into oil exploration like there's no tomorrow. The majority of the work is being undertaken on their behalf by offshore contractors. They need a solution for a billion Chinese who want to buy their first car and fuel it.

    Hopefully offshore oil will pick-up on the west coast with Obama's plan.

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