Diving Related Career Opportunities
As the famous saying goes, choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Indeed, getting paid for doing something that you truly enjoy sounds great, so why not look for a diving job? Besides, there are so many different career paths within or related to the scuba industry that almost everyone can find a fitting option. Just think about it, you can become a diving instructor, a boat driver, or a repair technician, you can run a dive shop, blend gas mixtures or do deep sea research.
The list of possible diving-related career opportunities is long and distinguished, but it is important to note, that as exhilarating as it may sound, diving for a living requires a lot of hard work, dedication, skill and training. What’s more, there is a huge difference between enjoying a particular activity and being able to turn it into a thriving enterprise or career. So let us look more closely at the different types of diving related jobs and the things you will need to know in case you decide to pursue one of them.
The very first thing you would need to fix upon is whether you’d like to work in the commercial/industrial sector, or in a recreational environment.
Recreational Diving Opportunities
Recreation is a large sector where most of the scuba job opportunities are. You can work nearly anywhere around the world, including a local dive center, a tropical island resort, a cruise ship or a private yacht.
An instructor at a resort is considered to be the most glamorous of all scuba diving jobs. Many think of it as of never ending vacation, however, there is more to the job than meets the eye. Being an instructor is often physically and mentally demanding. You can be asked to lead a minimum of four dives per day, teach classes, as well as perform other tasks, such as filling tanks, loading, preparing, handing out and rinsing the gear, captaining a boat, repairing/maintaining scuba equipment, etc. Most importantly, though, you are also responsible for the safety of those, diving with you, and should any mishaps occur, you will be the first person to take a hit.
Some other aspects to consider when looking for a job at a resort are accommodation options and work permit (if you are going to a foreign country). Here your marital status can play an important role. Some resorts may not be able to provide housing for employees with spouses or significant others. As for the work permit, you need to clarify who will be paying for it - you or your employer.
You can also try yourself in the cruise industry. Many cruise ships have watersports programs with their own dive staff on board. An instructor in such watersports program is usually expected to do more than teach diving and snorkeling. Your duties on a cruise ship can also include interaction with passengers and work with the cruise director's staff. Thus an outgoing, friendly personality will be a big plus for this type of position. Being able to speak multiple languages will make you more employable on the cruise ship as well.
Keep in mind, employees have to sign contracts which typically range from 6 to 12 months. You would work several months on board and then have a week or two off.
Jobs on liveaboard dive boats are similar to those on cruise ships in that interacting with the guests is an essential part of the instructor’s duties. Employees are also expected to multi-task and often work long hours. The main difference is that liveaboards are usually smaller in size and more focused on diving.
If you want to be a scuba instructor, but stay close to home, there is always an option to look for a job in the local dive center. In case there is a retail store at the center, you will have a chance to gain some business experience as well. Answering phones, doing inventory and ordering merchandise can seem like some pretty mundane tasks, but the skills and knowledge you will gain in the process will be invaluable if you decide to open your own business one day.
Another benefit that many dive shops offer is free scuba diving trips for instructors. Normally, if a certain amount of divers sign up for the trip, instructors get to travel for free.
The downside of the job is the necessity to work some nights and weekends to fit the schedule of the students.
Commercial Diving Opportunities
Commercial diving sector is much different from recreational diving, but also offers a plethora of wonderful job opportunities. You can get involved in underwater research, photography,working in the marine construction industry or in the field of marine conservation. You can also join the scuba team in the military or police. Although all of these jobs are very demanding and often require divers to work in different hostile environments, they do pay well for the risk.
If you want to get a job in the commercial diving sector, you will definitely need to be qualified in more than just instruction. Excellent knowledge of decompression theory is a must; a good understanding of engineering, underwater surveying and welding will also be a plus. Finally, you have to be extremely physically fit and capable of working underwater for extended periods of time.
Here are a few areas of commercial diving for you to explore.
HAZMAT (hazardous materials) Diving. This is one of the most dangerous branches of the commercial diving industry. Typical work involves diving into raw sewage or dangerous chemicals, such as paper pulp, liquid cement, or oil sludge. All HAZMAT divers need to go through intensive training, learning about specialized commercial dive gear, different safety and decontamination procedures, etc.
Marine Construction and Deep Sea Research. This type of job involves exploration duties to collect data for research purposes. Research divers can also work with underwater engineers to build different underwater structures.
Offshore Oil Exploration. The duties of offshore oil exploration divers normally include general and specialized surveying, building, maintaining and repair of platforms, underwater structures and equipment used in offshore oil and gas production, as well as testing for different structural faults in underwater systems. This job is one of the best paid in the industry.
Underwater Engineering. Engineer divers normally perform inspection and maintenance projects on different underwater structures. They can also plan demolitions, construct models or even take part in offshore drilling operations. Some of such operations can take place in underwater hazardous environments, and, thus, require appropriate training.
Underwater Photography and Entertainment. This is one of the more enjoyable and creative forms of commercial diving. These professional divers can take underwater pictures, film or perform stunts. In addition to being good divers and having great photography skills, underwater photographers need to understand the behaviour of their subjects, and be able to work with different weather.
Military Diving. Military diving is for military personnel. This is an elite classification that entails extremely high risks and responsibilities. The process required to become this type of diver is quite tough. The duties of military divers include combat and demolition missions, underwater reconnaissance, ordnance disposal, construction, ship maintenance, search and rescue, salvage operations, saturation diving and underwater engineering.
Public Safety Diving. Public safety divers provide emergency, rescue and investigative services, such as collecting evidence or performing recovery missions. They can be members of police departments (full-time divers or general water police officers), sheriffs offices, fire rescue agencies or search and rescue teams.
Dive Shop / Dive Operator
If you are more of a manager, but still want diving to be a part of your career, you can run a dive shop or become a dive operator. You can start with getting a job in a local dive center. Dive shops often hire certified divers to work in the retail portion. Besides sales, you may be assigned such tasks as renting equipment, filling tanks and repairing gear.
You can even work up to opening your own dive center. Remember though, retail management is a difficult task that takes time and effort to learn and do well. Diving experience alone is not enough to run an independent business, you will also need to take care of legal issues, marketing, hiring personnel, etc.
Diving Job Resources
If you decide that a diving related career is something that you really want to pursue, it may be time to start looking for those job listings.
In diving, one of the most effective ways to land the job you want is through networking. Many positions are filled by word of mouth and aren't even listed. So, go to your local dive shop, call your instructor, talk to your dive buddies, etc. and ask whether they know of any open positions in the area of your interest.
If this is not an option for you, try searching on some online resources. Here are a few websites you may find useful:
If you want to become a commercial diver, but lack training or experience, here are a few well known commercial diving schools: