How to get into Commercial Diving and Career Options
Our aim is financial independence, retire early (FIRE). As such, it makes sense to go into an occupation you can earn a lot in so you can invest fast and have more options. It helps if you love it, which we do.
Mr Aspiring Millionaire trained to be a commercial diver last year. He has previous experience diving, although that is not necessary to do this career. Growing up in Vanuatu, then working in the Solomon Islands, commercial diving was not an option for him even though he wanted to do it for years.
Once we got Australian residency sorted for him, commercial diving was the next step. Last year, we did both residency and his course, which wasn’t cheap but both were worth it.
Commercial diving is a high-risk occupation, especially if you work on offshore oil rigs. However, the pay for those jobs is high ($3,000+ per day) as well. It doesn’t require a university degree and pays well from the start. In fact, you can do it at 18 after a few months of doing a course and go straight into a job at $100,000.
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What is Commercial Diving?
Commercial diving covers jobs from working in fisheries repairing nets, getting abalone and similar through to offshore saturation diving, where you live in a chamber under the water for a month at a time. It is in high demand, pays well and you can start young.
How Much Can You Make as a Commercial Diver?
The lowest-paid are those working in fisheries at around $80,000 a year and only requires ADAS 1 and ADAS 2 ($7,000 each course). If you want to earn more, you need to do ADAS 3 and you will work in construction commercial diving repairing dams, wharves, bridges and other underwater construction essentials. This is around $100,000 and is a great step towards saturation diving.
Saturation diving, offshore on oil rigs is the highest paying but also the most dangerous. Typically, you will work for 4 weeks then have 4 weeks off but make $3,000+ per day.
Read how much a commercial diver makes for more specifics.
What Prerequisites Are There?
Aside from passing a commercial diving medical, and having a current advanced first aid certificate including CPR, oxygen etc, there aren’t any. You need to be fit, able to handle enclosed spaces and other skills do come in handy but realistically you can get that training after.
What do you need to do to Become Qualified as a Commercial Diver?
Within a few months, you can be earning over $100,000 after completing your course and getting a job. Mr Aspiring Millionaire studied at Commercial Dive Academy in Tasmania, Australia. He did ADAS 1, 2 and 3 at the same time for about 3 months.
They have a discount if you do all 3 at once and there is a house students can pay to stay at since it is away from everything.
Certificate III in Maritime Operations can be extremely useful depending on the area and job you go into. Any construction experience, forklift licence and similar are also great to have or may be required to secure a job.
Mr Aspiring Millionaire needed his dive certifications, first aid certifications, a white card (construction card) and drivers licence. Within 2 months they arranged a few construction qualifications and his forklift licence as well. These would cost thousands but since he is a good worker and will be with them for years, it is a good investment for them.
Some commercial divers are happy to do fisheries and nothing else. Those who do the construction style commercial diving often have a desire to do saturation diving. Saturation diving is the most dangerous and although the wages are high, works often blow through their money as they are bored being offshore.
Since they can be qualified to do saturation within a few years of starting as a commercial diver and you can start as young as 18 in commercial diving, it is huge money for such a young age.
Any area of commercial diving you choose to go into has options for progression. After years of diving, you can move into supervision roles, training and similar. It’s up to you and the higher you go, the higher the income as the knowledge and experience is unique.
Commercial Diving Risks
If something goes wrong, you could easily die. It’s that simple. Of course, the safety checks and procedures are there to protect you and are extremely strict in Australia, it is a risky occupation though.
Offshore diving is even riskier because if you line gets cut or anything goes wrong, you cannot get to the surface. There are also issues such as decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis, delta P, currents, sharks etc. The list is long and all of it requires divers to keep extremely calm under immense pressure.
Find out more about the risks of commercial diving.
Mr Aspiring Millionaire’s Diving Background and Plan
Before commerical diving, Mr Aspiring Millionaire did tec and scuba diving in the Solomon Islands, PNG and parts of Micronesia. He was crew for the expedition to find Amelia Earhart’s plane, had worked on boats his whole adult life doing everything from engineering and repairs through to learning to be a captain.
Having this experience, working in extreme conditions including being at sea through cyclones and having to repair boats in the least developed countries, he can clearly work well under pressure and problem solve. These are essential traits for a commercial diver.
When it came to securing a job, his previous work experienced helped immensely. It took a month from graduation to secure the job he has although he was offered other work before then. The other jobs were casual, lower rates and nowhere near as much diving.
Since he wants to go through to saturation diving, he needs to get his diving experience up quickly.
His plan is to work for a few years where he is, do the saturation diving course then work offshore on oil rigs at the highest rate. With a month on then a month off, we will be able to travel on his month off.
We will be investing his income heavily to enable him to retire early if he wants. However, he is interested in going right through to the supervisor roles.