There are several types of commercial divers across all kinds of specialties, from SCUBA to hard hat divers, from fresh water to deep sea divers, filling any of these spots qualifies you as Globally Employable!
Steve's Note:Generally speaking, only former Navy EOD are allowed to dive on unexploded ordnance according to the US Army Corps of Engineers. If you're interested in doing this kind of work, let me know by using the "Contact Me" page. There are a lot of details to cover and if you're a good candidate, I don't want you to be confused by what a recruiter might promise.
Being a commercial diver is one of those jobs that makes you think, "I can't believe I'm getting paid to do this." or "There isn't enough money on the planet to make me want to keep doing this."
I've been in both positions but being a professional diver certainly has some lifestyle benefits that are tough to beat.
How do you become a commercial diver?
Depends! Can't beat being a Navy Diver first. You'll learn things you'll never learn in a commercial dive school and you'll actually get paid to be there.
First, I would have you define what kind of for profit diver that you want to be.
If you want to wear SCUBA, take people out in the Caribbean, look at pretty fish, then get your NAUI or PADI Master SCUBA Diver Card and Instructor Card and grab your sunscreen.
If dark water, oil rigs, underwater welding, ships husbandry, cold and dark water are your cup of tea, then get over to one of the commercial dive schools and get to work.
How I did it
Actually, by accident! I departed the Navy not thinking I'd be anywhere close to that world again but it's funny how history repeats itself, especially when you have a skill set that pays well.
Not being a fan of looking at pretty fish, I had no desire to get in the water with people I didn't know.
I was floating around the UXO world as I started up my company, SGC Group , when an underwater UXO job popped up.
I needed to get some qualification dives in and get used to blowing bubbles and was fortunate enough to run into Jim Gaddis in Nashville doing some surface supplied diving near Opryland to shore up a hill side that was falling into a lake.
Sounds boring but pumping cement into canvas bags at depth and zero visibility is not the easiest way to get reacquainted with diving. The water was pitch black and you had to be aware of these giant cement filled bags rolling on top of you until the cement dried.
Now off to California to look at an old ammo pier that was hit by a Mitsubishi cargo ship. I guess the ship violated the one rule of boating, Never park faster than you're willing to crash!
The pier was destroyed but it had to be checked for ordnance before the crew could start sinking the replacement pillions. It would be a bad day to drive one of those on top of a bomb only to launch it and everyone around it into the air.
Everyone on the team was former Navy EOD but none of us had worked together before. It was flawless in the boat. Everyone knew exactly what to do, where to be and when to do it.
We were able to clear down the pillions and under the wrecked pier to clear it of UXO.
All told for about 5 days work, we made in excess of $3300 not counting
Per Diem !
Not only that but it opened the door for further jobs and solidifying my dis-interest in looking at pretty fish!
Where's the best commercial dive school?
The Commercial Dive Academy (CDA on Facebook) in Jacksonville, Florida is definitely one to consider. Lee Allrid, US Navy First Class Diver, that I personally worked with at EOD MU-8, is an instructor at CDA. Knowing that Lee is one of your instructors, gives me the greatest confidence in saying that you should go there.
What's it like starting out after school?
The first 2 years, you'll probably be "choking hoses" for the guys that have been diving for a while. Honestly, that's not a bad thing. You'll learn a lot from the old guys and if you stick around, you'll earn your spot.
If you have any questions about commercial divers, use the FAQ page or the "Contact Me" page.
If you're looking for commercial divers, look no further. I know a few and we'd like the opportunity to work with you.