Divers and Diving Technicians


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Typical basic requirements for enrollment in a diving program are a high school diploma or its equivalent, good reading comprehension, completion of three to four years of language and communications subjects, at least one year of algebra, and one year of physics or chemistry with laboratory work.

Postsecondary Training

The best way to train for this career is to attend one of the postsecondary schools and colleges that offer an organized program, usually two years in length, to prepare such technicians. Diving technicians are specialized engineering technicians. Therefore, they need a basic theoretical and practical background in science. Mastery of several construction-type work skills is also necessary. A typical postsecondary program in marine diving technology is designed to develop the skills and knowledge required of a commercial diver, an understanding of the marine environment, and an ability to communicate well.

The first year's study includes such courses as seamanship and small-boat handling, basic diving, drafting, basic welding, technical writing, advanced diving, fundamentals of marine engines and compressors, marine welding, physical oceanography, and marine biology. Often, students participate in a summer cooperative work-study program of supervised ocean dives before the second year of instruction begins.

Second-year courses typically include underwater construction, biological oceanography, physics, fundamentals of electronics, machine shop operations, underwater operations, advanced diving systems, basic emergency medical technology, and speech and communications. The second year also may include fundamentals of photography or a special project that relates specifically to diving or life-support technology. Additional studies such as economics, or other general studies must usually be taken.

You can also train for a diving career in the miilitary. Visit https://www.todaysmilitary.com/careers-benefits/careers/divers for more information on dive training and careers in the U.S. armed forces. 

Programs for prospective recreation specialists also focus on understanding the marine environment and developing communications skills, but instead of welding, drafting, and other technical classes, these programs require the development of basic business skills. Courses in small business management, introduction to marketing, organizational behavior, computer science, and business law are usually offered. Schools that provide these programs often have special admission requirements relating to swimming ability and skills.

When you seek employment, you usually find that many employers require completion of a recognized training program or documentation of comparable experience. Additionally, an emergency medical technician certificate is valuable and may be required by some companies.

Employment in areas other than commercial diving may impose more specific requirements. A specialty in photography, videography, electronics, oceanography, biology, marine culture, or construction engineering may open other doors of opportunity for divers and diving technicians.

Other Education or Training

Many divers and diving technicians continue to upgrade their knowledge throughout their careers by completing courses offered by professional associations and diving schools, and by attending industry trade shows such as Underwater Intervention (http://www.underwaterintervention.com). Topics include advanced underwater engineering, deepwater operations and technology, welding techniques, safety, instruments and sensors, and ocean research and marine archaeology technology.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no special requirements for licenses at the entry level in the United States. However, the United Kingdom and some of the North Sea countries do have specific requirements for divers, which can be met only by training in their countries.

Certification is required for recreational diving instructors and is available through such organizations as NAUI Worldwide (formerly known as the National Association of Underwater Instructors), American Academy of Underwater Sciences, PADI, and the YMCA. Certification for commercial divers is not required.

For specific work beyond entry level, welding certification may be required; it is available from the American Welding Society. Also, certification in nondestructive testing (which is available from the American Society for Nondestructive Testing) may enhance your opportunities.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Participation in a summer cooperative work-study program of supervised ocean dives during college will provide useful experience for aspiring diving professionals.

You need more than excellent diving skills; diving is just the way you reach your work site. You should be mechanically inclined and able to operate and maintain a wide variety of equipment. You must understand drawings and simple blueprints; be familiar with piping and valves; know how to handle high-pressure gases, bottles, and gauges; and be able to write accurate reports, keep records, and do paperwork. An understanding of the physical and biological elements of the marine environment and the ability to work as a member of a team are crucial.

Divers and diving technicians who work in marine science must be familiar with the use of basic research and recording equipment and scientific research techniques.

Recreation specialists need excellent communications skills. With some employers, business management, marketing, and computer skills are also important.

Physical requirements for the career include overall good health, at least normal physical strength, sound respiratory functions, normal or better eyesight, and good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity.