Frequently Asked Questions in the Commercial Diving School and Underwater Welding Industry
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Do you have questions about attending a commercial diving school or getting a job in the underwater welding industry? Divers Academy International has answers! Check out some of the most common questions and answers below, or contact us to see if a career in commercial diving is the right fit for you!
General Commercial Diving Questions
What do commercial divers do?
Commercial divers work on underwater construction job sites, the most common of which are oil rigs and bridges. In addition to the installation of these structures, these types of construction sites require regular inspection, repairs, and maintenance.
Commercial divers also build and maintain cargo piers and docks for the shipping harbors, like the Boston Harbor, New York Harbor, and Philadelphia Harbor here on the east coast.
Other common places where commercial divers can work include ship inspections, salvage work, where divers travel down into shipping canals to recover ships and their cargo, hydroelectric plants, nuclear power plants, artificial reefs, and offshore wind farms.
What is the difference between underwater welding and commercial diving?
While underwater welding is a popular term and is often considered to be a job title, it is actually a skill set commonly held by commercial divers. “Commercial diver” is the job title, and someone who is a commercial diver may have underwater welding skills.
How do you become a commercial diver?
The first step is to attend an accredited commercial dive school. There you can earn industry-recognized certifications, such as the ACDE and ANSI certifications so you can start working as an entry-level Air Tender/Diver and launch your career. The more experience you earn, the more advanced credentials you can obtain.
Should I become a commercial diver?
If you like being outside and aren’t exactly thrilled with routine, then commercial diving might be a great fit for you. Each dive is different and has its own unique challenges, even if it’s at a location you dove in before. Commercial divers need to have leadership and problem-solving skills to help them to be successful in their jobs. If you’re looking for adventure, like to travel, and enjoy the great outdoors, then a commercial diving career might be the right fit for you.
How can I develop a successful occupational diving career?
The first and most important step to developing a successful career in the commercial diving field is to attend an industry-recognized school to obtain your certifications. Commercial diving is a performance-based industry, so it’s important to build your reputation as a skillful underwater welder.
What kind of jobs I can get after graduating from commercial dive school?
Common jobs for commercial divers include:
- Bridge, dam, and water treatment facility inspection and repair
- Oil rig repair, inspection, and maintenance
- Underwater welding
- HAZMAT diving, saturation diving, nuclear diving, and offshore diving
- Hyperbaric chamber operations
- Wellhead repair and management
- Inspect, repair, and restore shipping piers and shipyards
- Underwater Pipeline and valve repair
- Ship Salvage and recovery
- Offshore wind farm development and maintenance
Typically, one would begin their career as an entry-level diver, known as a Dive Tender. From there, they would move up the ranks to become a commercial diver. Often, a commercial diver can grow their career until they move all the way up to a commercial dive supervisor.
What’s the difference between Inland and offshore diving?
The official term for “onshore diving” is inland or inshore diving. Inland diving involves dives in locations that are surrounded by land, such as rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. These jobs are typically within the marine construction, civil engineering, and communications industries. Typical jobs are bridge inspections, water treatment facilities, nuclear power plants.
Offshore diving is the official term used to reference diving that occurs in the oceans, gulfs, and seas. These jobs are typically within the oil, wind farm, and ship salvage industries.
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What are the requirements to attend a commercial diving school?
To attend Divers Academy International, you must meet the following requirements:
- Have a high school diploma or GED equivalent
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be proficient in written and oral English
- Be adept with mechanical skills
- Be a competent swimmer
- Qualify as “fit to dive” on the hyperbaric dive physical
More information can be found on our Admission Requirements page.
Should an incoming student have previous welding experience?
Previous welding experience is not necessary to have a successful career as an underwater welder and commercial diver, but any form of construction or industrial trade background may be beneficial. No matter what your level of experience, we’ll teach you everything you need to know at Divers Academy to launch your new career!
Where do I buy my commercial diving equipment?
Divers Academy offers a top-of-the-line commercial diving and equipment store on campus with top name-brand commercial dive gear that meets the safety requirements set by most commercial dive employers. The commercial dive gear has been pre-selected by the commercial dive training instructors at Diver’s Academy. It is entirely up to the student where they purchase their equipment from—whether it’s online, at a local dive shop, or at our school as long as it meets the industry safety requirements.
On your first day of class, instructors will review your dive gear to make sure you are prepared and safe to dive and have the gear potential employers are looking for.
Is Divers Academy International financial aid approved?
Yes, we offer financial assistance programs to those who qualify. Students may use the FAFSA to apply for Federal Direct Stafford Loans and the Pell Grant. We also have Personal GAP funding student loans available through SLM Financial and NJ Class Student Loans to assist students in covering their educational expenses. For more information, visit the Financial Assistance page.
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Potential Salary/Job Placement/Job Security
Are commercial divers/underwater welders in demand?
The demand for commercial divers is on the rise and is projected to grow 37% by 2024 according to career.org.
How much do commercial divers and underwater welders make?
The average entry level divers earn between $50,000 and $70,000 per year. The average salary for a commercial diver is between $70,000 and $90,000 per year (according to the New Jersey Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2017); however, this can vary depending on your level of skill and experience, the type of dive company and type of commercial diving work that you do, as well as geographically where that work is located. Based on the general economy in the United States, wages are typically higher in the north east and west coasts, this follows the same in the commercial diving industry.
How often do commercial divers and underwater welders work?
Underwater Welding is a year-round career! The work rotation and work schedule can vary based on the type and size dive company you’re working for, the type of contract structure you are working on and the location you’re working in, but there is always much to be done under the water. Most Commercial Diving Contractors have various structure contracts going on simultaneously.
How dangerous is underwater welding?
Underwater Welding is not ranked in the top 25 most dangerous professions in the country. In fact, you are far more likely to be injured as a truck driver, farmer, or fisher.
While it’s important to be aware of the risks of underwater occupations, you shouldn’t let worry keep you from pursuing a career you’re passionate about. The hands-on training provided by accredited diving academies focuses on safe dive procedures and helps to keep drivers safe while on the job. All certified divers are prepared against rare underwater hazards like decompression sickness, electric shock, and drowning.
How long can underwater welders/commercial divers work?
Underwater welders and commercial divers can work as long as they desire, as long as they maintain their hyperbaric physical “fit-to-dive” status with no medical limitations. Just like the construction industry, commercial diving is a physically demanding trade. However, there are ways to stay involved in the industry when the dives themselves become too demanding, such as transitioning into a Commercial Dive Supervisor role or a Project Management role.
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Are commercial diving certifications necessary?
Yes, to work in the commercial diving or underwater welding industry, it is necessary to have ACDE/ANSI certifications, showing you graduated from an approved school. This means going to an Association of Commercial Diving Educators (ACDE) approved school and having been trained to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Commercial Dive Training Standard. Look for this certification as the first requirement when choosing a recognized commercial dive school.
What commercial dive certifications does Divers Academy offer?
Divers Academy offers the following certifications:
- ACDE / ANSI Commercial Diver
- Divers Academy International®
- ADCI Association of diving Contractors Entry level Dive Tender
- Surface Supplied Nitrox
- KMDSI Commercial dive helmet technician
- NDT Level-1 Liquid Penetrant
- NDT Level-1 Magnetic Partial
- API Rigging RP-3D
- Neurological Assessment
- AHA, CPR, and AED
Check here for more information about our commercial diving certifications.
Where to Work - Onshore/Offshore
Do I have to go offshore?
No, it’s completely up to you whether to dive inland only or to venture offshore into the great blue of the ocean for work. Commercial divers and underwater welders choose the geographic area they work in and the type of work that they do. Divers Academy’s career placement program will assist you in creating a career plan and introducing you to potential employers.
Student Life - Resources/Living/Meals
Why should I choose Divers Academy International?
We offer all of the advanced commercial diving certifications in one program with one, all-inclusive tuition fee- no hidden costs. All of our students are trained according to the ANSI/ACDE Commercial Diving certification standards, which is the top commercial dive certification in the USA. Our students graduate with advanced certifications, as well as underwater welding, NDT steel inspection, HAZWOPER hazardous environments, API Rigging, KMDSI Dive Hat repair certificates, and much more.
We’ve been around for over 40 years and are a nationally accredited commercial dive school. We work with our students to ensure that they have all the skills and industry-recognized certifications that employers are looking for in a new entry level diver. Our training environment is in deep dive quarries specially designed to train divers. We do not use shallow tanks or polluted rivers to train our student divers. Plus, we are in a great location! Located minutes away from Philadelphia, there is always something to do around Divers Academy, and we’re close to many high-paying inland diving jobs. We have the deepest dive site of any commercial diving school in the US, and our state-of-the-art diving equipment and relationships with over 100 companies ensure that our students have everything they need to get their careers started
What can I expect to learn at an underwater welding school?
Our comprehensive curriculum here at Divers Academy will teach you everything you need to know to become a successful commercial diver. We’ll cover topics like surface supplied air diving, mixed gas diving, underwater welding, salvage diving, hyperbaric chamber operations, rigging, bridge inspections, oilfield oil rig inspections, NDT underwater inspections, and ROV remote operated vehicles operation. Learn more about what we cover on our Courses and Curriculum Page.
What is a typical day like during the commercial dive program?
We start most days with a safety meeting followed by dive station gear set up and safety checks. The students will then set up the underwater projects such as pipe flange assembly or prepare the necessary tools and supplies to salvage the boat. Students will rotate in and out of the water diving and dive tending rotations. When not in the water, students will be working surface support for the underwater projects. At the end of the day, students will disassemble the hat station equipment and properly store it. The students will have a short safety meeting in the classroom prior to the end of the day.
Our commercial diving program is very hands-on! Though the day begins with some classroom meetings, students can quickly apply what they’ve learned to real projects out in the water that very same day. The occasional paper test is inevitable, but the majority of our focus here at Divers Academy is on our students’ projects. After all, the best way to learn is by doing!
Will Divers Academy help me get work?
Absolutely! Divers Academy offers continuous career placement as long as you remain employable in the field. We work with our students on their resumes, interviewing skills, and assist them with contacting employers. We help our students to secure interviews and their employment. We work with all disciplines in the commercial diving industry, both onshore/inland and offshore, and union and non-union work. At Divers Academy, we like to stay in touch to make sure that the job is going well for both the alumni and employer.