The Commercial Diver Network
[I understand that the view of "wannabes" might be dim due to the flooding of ADCI certified students into the job market, and that this post has a chance of being flamed/dismissed/ignored. This is my preface and I accept that. (Hopefully you'll see that I'm not just another lemming however:)]
With that out of the way... I feel compelled, to at least try and gather as much information as possible before making a final (monetary and time) plunge into dive-school on April 18th 2011, at The Ocean Corporation.
As such, I'm starting the next step by posting some queries/info-gathering here, as this site looked [the most] reputable, and many other sites point here for guidance. In the next week or so, I also plan getting in touch with some dive companies for some "physical" contact as the final step before making my final decision. (ideas/recommendations for potential Houston companies would be great!)
The questions/info I have are a tad loaded, so I'll try and provide a little background to help stave off any misunderstandings.
Basic Knowledge : - I've done as much research into com-diving as Google has allowed me so this isn't a question of "if" I want or should do this. I am fully aware of what commercial diving is, how the progression of it works, etc... I am aware that you start as a tender (dogs***) and work your way up the ranks hopefully to at least diving with your own hat. (with the "end-goal" being saturation diving/ROV/not-dying)
I'm aware that the job is not a walk in the park by any means, and that the role of a com-diver is basically an underwater variant of "hardass construction worker".
The tl;dr and my ?'s for you fine experienced sea-dogs :
1) With my tuition at The Ocean Corporation totalling around $6,050 on my end, and secured housing in Houston where I can conveniently pound pavement for work : is this best avenue to enter the commercial diving world for me at the moment?
I understand that there's a Louisiana school that offers a similar course and the ADCI credential for $250-500 or something, but I imagine that my housing costs/moving expenditure would be comparable to simply going to TOC.
I also understand that the market is currently saturated (ha...) with disillusioned "wannabes" trying to make a quick buck and I would expect seasoned divers to do their best to make them f***-off. I however, am not going to let this 'suade me. I know what commercial diving is, I know I want it (badly enough) for the right reasons, and I am fully prepared to bug the s*** out of everyone until I can start holding some ho's...er...hose.
With regards to school in general, I'm fairly set on going through at least a basic Comm-dive course before I think about putting someone's life (and air hose) in my hands. I also feel that at least knowing the basic jist of what the guy at the other end of the hose is doing is crucial to helping him be safe and do his job. I eventually plan on getting an IMCA should I become successful.
2) Given the current price of oil ($105 a barrel or something isn't it?) the potential removal of the US Dollar as a reserve currency (for buying cheap import oil) and a forecast for some really nasty weather in mid-late 2011, would now be a good time for determined folks like myself to start training to break into the com-dive industry?
The graduation date for my class should be middle/late October 2011.
3) Should I inevitably take this course and not find suitable work in a reasonable amount of time, is the Army or Navy a good way to "get soggy"? I understand that the Army has something resembling "hard-hat" diving, but I've been told that it's a high demand, low-volume mos. The Navy program seems more demanding and geared towards a rescue/salvage role, and I'm not sure that avenue would be for me.
4) Should diveschool + Army/Navy fail, is there any other way to get into commercial diving other than having a friend help ya, or resorting to unspeakable acts?
My Background :(So you can get to know me of course!)
- I'm a 24 year old male hailing from Colorado
- Currently hiding in Houston Texas with my parent (after an unfortunate illegal foreclosure of my home in Colorado)
- I am single, I have 0 tie-downs, obligations or attachments. (I can go...anywhere)
- 3 Year Mechanical Engineering background in College @ CU Boulder and Metro State (Didn't like being cooped up inside)
- Background in construction via Yenter, doing soil stabo/drilling/working consecutive 12 hour shifts in the rain with bleeding hands etc...After which I'd go sport climbing with my boss/fellow laborers for fun. Happiest I've been in a job.
- I already have my TWIC card and diving physical taken care of
- Obtained SSI Open water Cert
- Blew and took the picture of that pretty air ring in my avatar (avid underwater photographer, yay Olympus!)
The $$$ : (always the important part)
- Tuition is $18,000 (I have my own fins/wetsuit/Carhartt's/etc...)
- My combined federal aid is roughly $11,000 sub/unsub
- My pell grant is roughly $5,950
- I will potentially receive up to $6,000 from work-source in Houston come June, now that I'm a resident
Should things go peachy, I look to spend a total of : 18,000 - 6,000 - 5,950 - 11,000 = -$4,950 **Subtracting the 4,950 from my student loan yields $6,050 total expense on my end before next tax season. (after which that number should go down to 4-5k) A part time job would have this mostly taken care of before I graduate. (Assuming 8/hr * 20 hours * 28 weeks =~ 4480)
Lastly : the s*** that might not really matter much [to you], but I figured was worth including to understand why I'm here/want this.
I f***ing love the water, and I always have. I grew up on the water, I grew up in the water, and being away from it even starts to make me irritable. As a kid for fun, I used to walk around on the bottom of a swimming pool with a blue, weighted mop-bucket on my head, with my friend feeding me air through a bikepump. Being underwater is the coolest s*** to me. I was ecstatic when I first got my open water cert and dive gear, and now the potential prospect of being able to make a living by (eventually) being underwater is all that I could hope for. Safe to say, I've tried aloooot of things in my short 24 years, from being a Sales Representative, mechanic, musician (cello for 10 years) and the 3 years of Mechanical Engineering school obtained in Colorado. But the only thing(s) that truly made me happy was building/destroying s***, and being underwater. I also thrive on challenge, and constant self-improvement. My "forced" move to Texas almost seems like fate I guess...I find myself living 10 miles from a reputable dive school and I feel that it's time.
Thanks for reading and any insight/help [you] might have to offer!
@Orrin - Sorry, meant "dogs***" in terms of the abuse you receive. I've browsed through a trove of forums and find the general trend is that tenders are given quite the hard time. (I used to have thin skin, so back then this would have been an issue)
When I first started drilling I was the newbie laborer who was razzed my fair share, and they jokingly called me "turd" for my first week. I earned my "senior" turd status quickly though! Safe to say, I have thicker skin now. (Body armor practically)
Also glad to hear that questions are warmly welcome, my driller boss eventually said I was getting on his nerves (week 2) and that I needed to start asking the mexican. (We're not racist, he was just really good at his job)
@ Ace - Cheers man, I'll definitely remember to send a PM your way when I'm done.
TOC is a great school. you get what you pay for. Not everyone there is serious..don't let the dirtbags, and there are plenty of them, bumm you out or discourage you.
The Army has divers..real hard hat divers. So does the Navy...but so does the National guard! One weekend a month and they pay for your school! www.627dive.com check it out.
Money can be good....can be not so good. I know companies paying $10/hr shop or less! You are young...plenty of time to grow into the dough.
It's a passion and a career. Good times and bad. Seems like you have already made up your mind. Look into the guard and definately consider TOC as your school. Great faculty and cost effective for what you get.
Thanks for the info! For giggles I tried out the diving PT test. Welp, I know what I'm doing every other day for the next 7 months...
Everything on the divers PT went smoothly up until that 1.5 mile run...s***, came in at like, 19 minutes and I felt like throwing up.
Does commercial diving require around that kind of fitness do excel in? (I'd be ok with it, just curious)
In the real world of diving, you most likely will not need to be in military shape to perform, but it never hurts! Diving takes a toll on your body over the years, especially at greater depths. Take care of your body and it will take care of you.
The DPFT is a bear, but practice makes perfect. You can go to the Military school of diving or a commercial dive school. The education is similar, but not the same. Either way, your gonna start off as the low man on the totem pole red hat and have to earn your keep.
Good luck and really take the time to think about your career path.
Not sure on how degrees transfer. The curriculums look completely different all the way through. Some day I'd like to finish my mech-engi degree, but right now I simply can't focus on it. I don't know why, and it's not like I didn't do well. (B's in Thermodynamics, Dynamics, etc...) It simply doesn't interest me, and it feels akin to beating my head against a textbook.
and...Here's hoping right? not that I'd bank on this for my decision...As for breaking out into diving, I don't see the rush. Most articles I've scrounged from seasoned Comm-divers say that the 1-2 year period of off-shore tending is practically necessary to learn from to be successful, and early breakouts from hurricane season can actually be detrimental. Any longer, and you bet I'll be the best damn tender I can be until opportunity knocks ;)
With the current federal budget issues popping up, I also feel concerned that waiting could be bad...as right now I'm able to receive the most out of my federal student aid/grants.
Cheers for the heads up. Better not to be surprised if I don't get hired.
Get your degree in Mechanical Engineering - Marine Engineering is a Civil Engineer.
Your buying bait by staying in school for the big fish you will catch later.
Think of the big picture.
Like the old saying. the young bull says lets run down the hill and screw one of them cows, The old bull says lets walk down and screw them all.
@ Dive DIva: What's the difference between a mechanical engineer and a marine engineer? I'm an engineering student but I'm just getting ready to start the specialty of the curriculum. I don't want to head down the wrong path. I'm getting the degree because I already have a dive card but want to make myself more appealing to companies out there. What advice can you give me?
Yeah, for some reason swimming and cycling sit differently with me than running. Can swim/cycle forever but the moment I hit the pavement running it's totally different.
I'll be honing down that 1.5 mile time by doing the interval training recommended by the U.S. army as losing an option for an entry point into the industry would be an obviously bad choice, especially since I have 7 months to train while I'm in school.
As for thinking 'bout the career path...I've been doing that for the last 16 years...it's about time I committed to something that's really piqued my fancy. And who knows, maybe someday I'll get to buy one of you gents a round of beer.
Thanks again for your time. Although my original questions weren't formally answered, I've gathered enough to know that this feels like a solid choice for me. I still plan on contacting some dive companies this coming week for final prep. Should be interesting :).