First steps entering the Commercial Diving Industry. Advice? Let experience speak.

    I am looking to take my first steps into this world of yours, and I have a few questions.

    Firstly, It's been asked a hundred times over but I'll ask it again here for some more up-to-date answers hopefully, among the major schools operating today what would you suggest for someone interested in working in the commercial diving industry?  I have looked at DIT in Seattle, Wa, as well as The Underwater Centre in Fort Williams, Scotland, The NYD in Norway, Professional Diving Centre in South Africa, and recently CDA in Jacksonville, Florida.  Currently I am leaning towards CDA, it is more expensive than most schools, but it offers the Canadian DCBC certification and I am interested in the potential of working overseas.

    I am a U.S citizen.  I find the idea of meeting new challenges, learning new skills, and hard work exciting.  I thrive on adventure, and the ability to travel, the slow seasons with the ability to take time off, and a livable wage with lots of growth potential seems like a huge benefit to me.  Especially coming from retail work where I made close to minimum wage on my feet 8 hours a day making a little over $8/hr.  Before that I did odd jobs on a farm for a time, working 10-12 hour days, sometimes in freezing conditions.  I have some experience in the medical field and I have fire department training.

    I've heard offshore work breakout times may be a bit longer but transfer back to inland work, whereas the opposite is not true, working inland for a time then transferring offshore starts you back as a tender all over again, is this true?

    Lastly, I have also read that the market is saturated with far more commercial divers than job openings.  My response to that is to ask about the other niche jobs within the diving community.  Even if I can't find work as an underwater welder or salvage work right out the door, are there many other opportunities in the diving world that pay a livable wage like seafood harvesting?

    International travel potential, decent money, learning new skills in a challenging environment.  All things that interest me about this possible career path.  I'm asking you who have experience, what changes would you have made or what recommendations do you have for someone just entering your industry?  I thank you for your answers, your suggestions, and your time.

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I'm not going to get too in depth here, but if you want to work 'internationally' then any of those schools will be exactly the same. To work in most of the world outside USA, an IMCA approved certificate is all you need, ie. The Underwater centre and the PDA in Dunoon, UK give you HSE cert's which are accepted by IMCA, the NYD gives you a Norwegian very that is accepted....INPP in Marseille, TUC in Fremantle, Australia, PDC in Durban, SA. I would be wary of going to a school that is more expensive, just because you can get a Canadian certificate, as the Canadian certificate is only acceptable overseas because it is accepted by IMCA as an equivalent cert.

For my money, if I had to do my training again, I would look at NYD in Norway first. Not only is it MUCH cheaper than most other schools even when you factor in the high cost of living in Norway, but the training you get is above question, and it is the only school to give you Closed Bell 'TUP' training included in your course (even if you never do a TUP job, this is an indication of how thorough the training is). Don't get suckered into thinking that the most expensive course will be the best, nor is the longest course the best either. Most schools will give you enough training to rock up on a Dive site and not immediately kill yourself or others. From there on in, you learn to be a Diver by working as a diver. (Even if you go to NYD, if your first job was on a vessel with a Bell bounce system, you will not find the ma**** parting as you climb aboard, and the Supervisor bowing, and beckoning you into the Bell....you will be mostly ignored, looked at in disgust, and given all the s***ty jobs around until you look like you might get in and out of the water without killing yourself)...

Yep, the industry worldwide is in the s****** just now, for many and varied reasons that don't really even have anything to do with oil...but Diving as an industry is all related....the thousands of divers worldwide that have no work offshore, will look inshore, windfarms etc, and they will get work there because they have more experience than the other new guys, so those inshore divers look elsewhere- aquaculture, moorings hull cleaning, picking up golf balls... There are literally thousands of divers worldwide that never get a single paid day as a diver because there are so many getting thrown through the training schools...I'm going to lay a bet with you that there is NO 'niche' market for commercial divers that dozens, if not hundreds of divers haven't already tried.
It's hard to become a diver, hard to stay in work and gain the experience you need to become good at it..it's never impossible, but you need to go into it with your eyes wide open- don't spend money you can't afford to lose, as the odds are against you making it, but if you can afford to write it all off as a learning experience and find something else to do, then go for it. If you have a new wife, new family..don't do it- diving eats happy home lives..I can count on my fingers the number of divers I know that are still on their first marriage...

    Thank you for your insight and advice.  I'm hearing some common themes among divers, that the most expensive schools aren't always the best, that jobs can be hard (but not impossible) to find, and that IMCA accepted schools are good for international work.  The CDA in Florida is IMCA recognized which is one reason I'm leaning in that direction, its definitely not the cheapest, and Norway was a very attractive consideration for me as well.  It is 2 months shorter than DIT in Seattle though for most of the same training, which is another consideration.

    As far as "niche" jobs go, when I say that I suppose what I mean is seafood harvesting work and things like that.  I'm sure over divers have tried them.  But I also personally know people in that industry that are making a decent living (making over 60k a year) harvesting geoducks.  

    I guess in my mind I see myself looking for offshore work in the gulf or something similar if I graduate CDA, and if I am unable to find work doing that I would consider collecting sponges, geoducks, urchins, or anything else that would pay a livable wage.  But welding and salvage are definitely interests of mine and I'd like to get on with a salvage company of some kind.  I am currently single, with no attachments keeping me from traveling so international work is appealing if it can be found.

    I shall continue researching this subject.  In conclusion though, it seems it can be a much more rewarding job than retail (my past work experience).  Thanks again for your thoughts, I appreciate any other advice from this community.  I'm going into this with a pretty open mind and a willingness to work.

That is a s***-load of money to pay for a diving course! I thought PDA and tHe underwater centre were expensive, but that takes the cake!
If you want to work in America Offshore, go to Young's Memorial, if you want to work International, go to Norway, South Africa....wherever is cheapest and quickest. All you learn in school is how to breath underwater and some of the ways that you can die. Everything else is learned on the job. Why pay 30k for a 20 week course, when you can pay 10-15k for an 8 week course and keep the rest of the cash to live on while you wait for a job that might not appear.
If you want to be a welder, you are probably going to be disappointed..about 5% of offshore work is welding (although there is hyperbaric welding and PRS systems, but that is very selective and for SAT divers) a bit more for Inshore work if you find it....plenty divers work for 25-30 years have never picked up a stinger...
As for Salvage, diving is a small part of salvage in general, and you will normally have to show a lot of other skills to get a job and watch your back-it's dangerous stuff.

The ability to work any place in the world is the ticket you want and Norway would be the way to go. Before going to dive school I would look at Lincoln or Hobart welding school and get a 6G welding certification for pipe welding. this will keep you working when others are on the beach drinking beer and complaining.

I owned diving companies and I never hired a diver that was not a welder also.

Welders are at a premium and divers are a dime a dozen. If you just want to work in the Gulf of Mexico then Young Mermorial is a good school. Santa Barbara City College is the best in USA. or rob a bank and I will teach you for free at the California Institution for Men ( Chino Divers ) . Head to Norway kid you will lean more then diving .

Only vaguely related, but with a 6gr weld proficiency, then instead of diving, think about doing an IRATA Rope Access cert. it costs around £6-700 in the UK, for example and you will never be out of work offshore anywhere in the world. RA is like diving, it's a means of getting someone to work: you have to be able to do something when you get there. I did 3 years of RA offshore in the North Sea before I decided to go into SAT, and I had as much work as I wanted, but the guys with the weld cert made a lot more money than me. It's a booming industry offshore- spend a week building scaffolding to get to a 10 minute welding job, or just get a RAT to abseil there. Booming industry.

    Once again, I thank you all for the opinions and advice.  It gives me much to consider.  

    My background being in retail work I have very little welding experience, and even less experience diving.  I recently graduated with an associates in Fire Science and I'm fully certified as a fire fighter and an EMT (many fire departments only hire once a year, or every couple years, and job mobility is very slow with hundreds of applicants per job opening, I'm not interested in working retail for the next few years waiting for an opening with the fire department so that is part of what has perked an interest in diving).  I've done rappelling and ropes-rescue courses and I have done my share of work with power and hand tools.

    Norway was a very attractive school, and as Mr. Anderson said, CDA is very expensive, you're looking at around $30k for a 5 month course (but that does include food and shelter as I'll be living on campus) I've spoken to a relative of mine who graduated from DIT in Seattle and only paid around $12k, but that was several years ago.  CDA's price is not too far different from The Underwater Centre once you factor in living costs, the course fee and living expenses in Scotland add up to almost $30k as well (but its a month shorter).  I've called both schools and had conversations with the advisers at DIT, TUC, and CDA.

    I need to learn more about this IRATA Rope Access cert, that sounds amazing.  I like rappelling and heights usually don't bother me much once I'm out on a rope.  Being an EMT, DMT is also very attractive to me, I am definitely interested in going for the dive medic cert regardless of what school I attend.  

Have a look at www.rigg-access.com there's forums, job adverts, pictures, advice for new starts...

And beware of the difference in DMT between USA and IMCA. As far as I'm aware, in the USA the DMT is a serious paramedic certificate. Anywhere else where IMCA is asked for, the IMCA DMT is an advanced first aid course with certain extras, such as intubation nd drug administration. The initial course is 10 days. Diver medic is NOT a discipline by itself. In many regions there is a requirement for a percentage of DMT's in the team. Occasionally it might get you a few more dollars a day, but often, you will find that most guys have DMT purely to give them more chance of getting a job.

I'm a diver considering going for my DCBC a****sment at CDA in hopes that it will open some doors for international work. The dive school I went to (NJ) didn't offer it at the time. I have all the pre-requisite dives, depth and experience to complete the a****sment in 3 days.  In your opinion, how effective is the DCBC in getting work overseas? Am I just wasting my time or does it actually provide a doorway to working internationally?
Thank you.

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