COMMERCIAL DIVING CAREERS
Most diving jobs require the employee to be underwater to inspect, repair, remove, or install equipment and structures. Divers use a variety of power and hand tools, such as drills, sledgehammers, torches, and welding equipment. They may also be required to conduct tests/experiments, rig explosives, or photograph structures or marine life. The type of work and rate of pay depends on the location and nature of the work performed.
Many divers are able to travel for work suiting their schedule and needs. Public works jobs funded by government agencies are required to pay divers prevailing wage hourly rates, or mandatory minimums for the work being completed. Prevailing wage rates typically require the diver to be paid for at least 8 hours of work regardless of the duration, overtime hourly payments on weekends/holidays, hourly rate increases for depths greater than 50 feet, hourly rate increases for work in enclosures, and hourly rate increases based on the distance of the project from the governing office/diver's residence. Some recently published prevailing wage rates are as follows:
State of Alaska (rates effective April 2016);
- A1404 Diver (working) - $106.54/hr
- A1405 Diver (standby) - $66.74/hr
- A1406 Dive Tender - $65.74/hr
Work in combination of classifications: Employees working in any combination of classifications within the diving crew (working diver, standby diver, and tender) in a shift are paid in the classification with the highest rate for a minimum of 8 hours per shift.
Northern California commercial building, highway, heavy construction, and dredging projects (effective February 2016)
- Diver (wet)* up to 50 ft depth - $122.31/hr
- Diver's Tender* - $76.96/hr
- Assistant Tender - $72.79/hr
- Diver (stand-by) - $77.75/hr
*Shall receive a minimum of 8 hours pay for any day or part thereof worked.
State of Oregon Prevailing Wage Diver & Diver Tender rates
- DIVER $95.89/hr
- DIVER TENDER $53.23/hr
Diver Depth Pay:
- 50-100 ft. $1.00 per foot per hour over 50 feet
- 101-150 ft. $1.50 per foot per hour over 100 feet
- 151-200 ft. $2.00 per foot per hour over 150 feet
Diver Enclosure Pay (working without vertical escape):
Distance Traveled In the Enclosure Hourly Enclosure Pay
- 5-50ft. $.50/hr. up to $4.00 maximum per day
- 50-100ft. $1.13/hr. up to $9.00 maximum per day
- 100-150ft. $2.13/hr. up to $17.00 maximum per day
- 150-200ft. $4.63/hr. up to $37.00 maximum per day
- 200-300ft. $4.63/hr. up to $37.00 maximum per day, plus $.40 per foot traveled in enclosure.
- 300-450ft. $4.63/hr. up to $37.00 maximum per day, plus $.80 per foot traveled in enclosure.
- 450-600ft. $4.63/hr. up to $37.00 maximum per day, plus $1.60 per foot traveled in enclosure.
Hourly rates listed above include fringe benefits. For a more complete list of prevailing wage determinations by area, see the latest federal wage determination for diver services here.
COMMON DIVER JOB TYPES INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
The most common type of commercial diver is the offshore diver working in the oil and gas industry. Here is where many commercial divers enter their professional career. Hourly pay is often lower than prevailing wage public works jobs, but typically increases over time. Offshore divers live on oil platforms or vessels for long periods of time, and may work long hours for several days in a row, though most do not work year-round due do the seasonal flow of offshore operations.
Inland divers commonly do government work on land-based civil engineering operations in lakes, harbors, rivers, and dams. They do not face as many hazardous working conditions and living situations of offshore divers, and the tasks are typically infrastructure repair or inspection. Per NTSB regulation, every bridge with a pier or abutment in the water must be inspected every 5 years, while some ratings require work at least once a year, all to be done by divers. Divers for inland work are frequently hired by private companies, as well as by states/cities/municipalities, in which case they are required by law to receive prevailing wage rates. Harvest divers may be employed to collect shellfish, sponges, or timber as a commodity.
Reservoirs or large potable water tanks require regular servicing by commercial divers as well.
HAZMAT divers are considered highly skilled and experienced divers who work under dangerous conditions. They have to work under special circumstances due to the dangerous materials they dive in, such as pollution, chemical tanks, or sewer diving. HAZMAT divers must take precautionary measures before, during, and after their dive to deal with the threat of contamination. Nuclear divers work under conditions much like HAZMAT divers, and may assist in power plant construction/maintenance or waste recovery. Different precautionary measures are taken to prevent the exposure of radiation. They may use a cold water suit to prevent heat stress from contaminated areas.
Scientific divers collect experimental data underwater. Work typically includes collecting samples and taking photographs or other observations of a marine environment in order to contribute to a research project.
Media divers work in underwater filming and photography. Many become trained as camera operators who mostly cover projects meant for television documentaries and movies.
Police divers assist in police investigations where a diver is need to recover something underwater.