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****** 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!
@ 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 :).
Being Physically fit for this job is essential. If your cardio sucks you will have a tougher time completing tasks underwater and your Physical strength is also essential. If you were seriously considering Navy Dive School you should know that they do no take out of shape people. Its a very hard thing to even get into much less complete. Not saying anything about you but man it would just be to your benefit in every way to start getting into better shape sooner than later. It will just make everything better bro! I was in the Navy for 6 Years and was a Ships S.A.R. Swimmer and Master at Arms. I got into this industry because I love the Water and grew up working hard. I would say it is in my blood. Sounds like you want it brotha, Go for it man!
There's plenty of work? Great! Seems contrary to most of the forum browsing and google searching I've done this week. Any idea where it's at? Would love to get in touch with some employers before/during/after school.
Decided that I'm just gonna do it. Seems like a 6k ADCA program, especially the likes of Ocean Corps is a pretty good deal.
Picked up: The Simple guide to Commercial diving, by mr. Barsky. Seems like a great book!
Also musta just had a bad day with that physical test...did way better tonight and feel more confident that the Army will be a solid backup should things go pear shaped with finding work.
Did 11:21 500yd swim, 2 min break, 45 pushups, 2 min break, 50 situps, 2 min break, 8 pullups, 1 min break, 1.5 mil run in 12:20. (The other night I had actually done a 2.3 mile run in 19:00, I took my gps tracker with me this time) With 7 months of school to train in, I'll be more than fine I imagine.
Thanks again for the info/encouragement!
Been drowned before...it's not all that bad, even in 40 degree waters. (kayak)
I've already shot an email to the 627th army dive team in Corpus Christy with some questions. I've done fairly well in places that are designed to make you wash out...hell, I got through Mechanical Engineering school at CU Boulder jus' fine. I imagine when it's "end of the road" for me, I'll be trying extra hard.
If you have your degree, great if not complete your Engineering and get a degree.
Its part of the bait to catch the big fish.
Army reserve unit would be the way to go and complete college at same time.
Maybe ROTC would be a good shot as you finish college.
Have you looked into Santa Barbara City College Marine Technology, commercial diver course?
Yeah I took a look. Seems like a more expensive option, and requires a move and higher cost of living on top of it. Nicer looking facility though.
Guess this got drawn out as I see a response about hype/drama or something...Must not have been clear. (Although my post did turn into a discussion, which I'm fine with) Initially I was specifically concerned with : Is this school choice good for the 6k? (TOC) Is now a good time to do this given current weather/oil speculation? (if not, I'd probably do it anyway and focus on getting into the army afterward) Is there any other means of getting into commercial diving besides school => tender, or Army/Navy? Basically, the ?'s I couldn't answer with my own research. (google/forums)
With regards to degrees, I'll tell you where I'm coming from on that matter. The bachelor's nowadays doesn't mean as much as it did 5-10 years ago. From what I have seen, and have been told : To be competitive in the engineering world now, one needs to have a Masters degree + internships + FE exam (then PE after 4 years, or 6 years from a bachelors). Most of my professor's stories went like this : "Got through 3 years of Engineering school, took a break, got a real job, came back, finished the Bachelors and then acquired the Masters." This is what I plan on doing.
Either way, I'm still gonna have to start as a tender right? Even 15/hr tending beats the 13/hr I was paid as a Laborer for a Drilling company, and I enjoyed myself there. (and was thinking about staying) It's 80 hour work weeks and overtime as a tender right? (time and a half?)
I appreciate the advice regardless, and thank you for your time/feedback good sir.