Posts Tagged ‘Commercial Diving’

Commercial Diver

Saturday, September 27th, 2014
Commercial Diver Training

Go Deep Industrial Commercial Diver

Britt Coates can say this for sure: his job is rarely dull. Go behind the scenes, below the surface.

Muscling icebergs out of the way? Brushes with bull sharks? Just another day for commercial diver Britt Coates. The diver – and dive instructor – gives us the low-down on his very adventurous, not-quite nine to fiver – and shows off in a few shots from his base at the Divers Institute, Seattle.

So… you dive in Antarctica?
Yep. You constantly have to watch for icebergs that could crush you to death. The water flows fast like a river, and it’s carrying these huge ice chunks. You either need to move, or muscle them out of the way.

So what exactly does a commercial diver do?
Commercial diving sounds fancy, but it’s really just underwater construction. The same work you see on New York City sidewalks, 130 feet (40m) beneath the surface. As for the tools, ours are air-powered and shoot bubbles everywhere. Say you’re using a jackhammer – it has less leverage because of the buoyancy. It bounces around so much. It’s like a rodeo.

What about underwater detonation?
When we have a job with bombs, all we do is take the explosives guy down and put him in position and let him do his thing. Someone else detonates it.

What’s the scariest part of the work you do?
Not knowing – half the time, we’re working in water like chocolate milk. You can’t see your hand until it’s touching your face. You feel things brush against your legs. Those things could be bull sharks. Or they could just be red snapper.

What else?
It’s spooky to be on the underside of a ship hull right near the prop. There are safety precautions to keep it from coming on, but it’s like putting your hand in the garbage disposal even when you can see that the switch is off.

Any side effects from deep water work ?
We work in deep water, especially in the Gulf of Mexico. We push ourselves beyond what’s safe for decompression [divers stay at certain depths according to charts and computers that determine exactly how many minutes are safe before the excess nitrogen exposure builds up and leads to decompression sickness, getting ‘the bends’]. It’s industry standard to be down as long as we are. That’s how business is done. After I exit the water, I have exactly five minutes to get into the decompression chamber; otherwise, I give those bubbles a chance to get into my blood.

How many times have you been in a chamber?
At least 100. Decompression time is usually an hour and 20 minutes. The longest I have ever sat in a chamber is a few hours after diving at 130 feet (40m) for 50 minutes. I had to go through decompression sickness. But I’ve never been bent. One of the guys I work with has skin bends – a marbled bruising across his skin. Really painful.

So commercial divers are known for a certain reputation…
In the late 60s, guys would go to bars and see how far they could push it before getting in the water the next morning. The cowboy days are gone, but this industry still attracts thrill-seeking, hardcore personalities. You find people who like to live on the edge and have a good time.

Sounds stressful. How do you cut loose?
Commercial divers are big pranksters. One friend of mine had a job at a dam. Since it was very cold, divers donned hot-water-filled suits warmed by hoses. When the job started, my friend lobbed a handful of gold-foil-covered chocolate coins into the water. When the diver hopped in, everyone listening to the monitors said he started breathing really hard. He said he was fouled up and needed time. Really, he was madly stuffing the coins into his suit. When that guy came back up and took the suit off, his hairy chest was covered in chocolate.

What about initiations?
We ‘chum’ all the newbies. When you’re in the Gulf in that murky water, someone will swim behind the new guy and place a can of tuna in his bailout bottle. That can of tuna has holes punched in it, so fish swarm him to the point he can hardly see.

So why stick with it?
It’s crazy and intense, but you just can’t take any of it too seriously or you’d burn out. Every day is just another day on the job, and it’s exhilarating.

Coates is also an instructor at the Divers Institute of Technology in Seattle, Washington, where he teaches others how to become commercial divers.

5 Things you need to know before choosing to be a Commercial Diver – cDiver

Monday, March 24th, 2014

5 Things you need to know before choosing to be a Commercial Diver – cDiver

1. Specific training and certification

Commercial diving is a professional career that requires specific training and certification. The work is not simply learning how to breathe under the water but it requires knowledge about the tools and safety precautions, awareness about the danger of the work environment, skills, and application of acquired knowledge from training to real life situations.

Acquiring knowledge about this profession happens during the completion of training. In addition, professional diving has different branches so it is important that you know your preference before even going through training.

2. Is there an age limit to become a professional diver?

Age is an important factor for most employers in hiring divers. The prospective companies mostly prefer to hire people in the range of 18 to 35 years old. Although there are some employers who still hire people beyond the age of 35, training is only given after the waiver was signed.

Age becomes part of the selection process due to physiological reasons. Professional divers who are beyond age 45 are mostly restricted for deep diving.

Despite the desire of hiring younger people, this doesn’t hinder opportunities for those who reached middle age and beyond. For those who have great passion and determination to work as a commercial diver still gets employed.

3. Is it a prerequisite to get a degree and which school should I choose?

The basic requirement is a high school diploma or equivalency plus completion of what we mentioned in #1 – specific training.

For those who wants a broader perspective of education, there are degree programs offered in commercial diving. Check out our list of schools which offers degree programs.

Most often, it is important that the school or training institution is federally accredited. This gives chance for students to receive financial aid which consists of federal loans and grants necessary to cover cost of training program.

4. Health Condition/ Physical Exam

Employers give highest consideration about hiring healthy applicants. Diving career needs responding to dangerous situations and challenging tasks which is why applicants must be fit to work.

Medical test usually involves general physical test, hearing test, vision test, urinalysis, and urine drug screen. Medical certificate shall be provided depending on the results and it may be valid up to 2 years.

5. What is Commercial Diving?

Before even deciding to get a diving degree or certification, it is always essential to know what commercial diving is. It is highly recommended to research, check legitimate resources and asks commercial divers to get an overview of what would be the career like.

An overview or basic knowledge about it shall help you decide if you really want to take it as a professional career. Below are some of the tasks a typical diver performs.

Search and recovery


Bridge inspection/repair/ construction

Injection equipment installation

Marine environmental control check

Site surveys prior to installation

Underwater inspection, installation, repair and maintenance


Seismic surveying

Sewage maintenance

Underwater photography and videography

Fabrication of equipment

via 5 Things you need to know before choosing to be a Commercial Diver – cDiver.