about cdi

LAKE CDI &
WORLD-CLASS FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT

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Commercial Divers International is the premier diving school in the United States. Located in Goodyear, Arizona, our school offers everything you need to compete for well-paid, always in-demand jobs. Our staff includes world-class diving instructors, military veterans, and decades of real-world experience, and our students will develop their underwater skills in our unparalleled facilities. If you’re ready to take control of your career and take it beneath the water’s surface, make sure to schedule a tour today!

 

Commercial Divers International’s facilities are unmatched. At our brand new 2.8 acre facility, we have three 21,000 gallon tanks, each providing a controlled environment in which to train and practice projects. Additionally, we have a penetration tank to simulate penetration and confined space diving. The tanks have side-viewing windows so students can be observed at all times by instructors both in and outside the tank. Our hyperbaric chamber provides the chance for students to experience and learn first hand, crucial, potentially lifesaving, chamber operations.

 

CDI owns their own 37 acre lake, proudly named Lake CDI located nine miles west of our flagship campus where open water diving operations are conducted in “real life” working conditions. Limited student housing and plenty of RV and trailer parking is available at Lake CDI and we host luncheons and BBQ’s.

We offer a surface-supplied helmet diving experience to anyone considering our program, or to anyone who meets the physical requirements who want to experience the thrill of an underwater, full helmet, surface-supplied dive. Our equipment is state-of-the-art and meticulously maintained. Our students dive with the best helmets in the industry (Kirby-Morgan, Desco, Gorski). You’ll become an expert on helmet operation and maintenance well before your program concludes. You will be trained on and develop proficiency with the same equipment you will encounter on the job.

There is, of course, a whole lot more to the job than getting wet. You’re going to be using any number of hand and power tools down there. CDI will teach you the skills you need to safely operate drills, jackhammers, saws, impact wrenches, torches, and welding equipment in the underwater, industrial work environment. In fact, almost any tool you can think of used topside has an underwater analog!

A top quality, commercial dive training school like Commercial Divers International is essential to gaining access to the commercial diving industry. Your earning potential as a commercial diver improves with every certification you obtain as well as with your expertise. The hands-on, practical experience you gain at Commercial Divers International will be guided by an extremely experienced and knowledgeable team of instructors. Our owners and instructors are commercial divers and veterans of the industry. Two of our founders owned a dive company for over 17 years, their goal in developing the school is to educate students in the exact ways employers want and need. CDI strives to ensure you are successful ,as well as safe in your career in the commercial diving industry.

 

MEET OUR FOUNDERS

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Company History

 

Co-founder Richard Phillips became interested in starting his own diving school after spending decades working in the diving industry and running his own company. As he began to compile his own teams of diving specialists to take on challenging jobs throughout the country, he faced the challenge of a clear lack of skilled divers. Researching the situation, Phillips was surprised but not necessarily shocked to learn there were less than 10 commercial diving schools in the country.

Knowing that there was a clear demand for this type of well-paying work, Phillips founded Commercial Divers International with Mark Plowman, an experienced commercial diver who also happened to work for Phillips.

From its founding, CDI has grown into one of the world’s best diving schools. It offers students the opportunity to gain real-world experience operating tools and equipment underwater at a beautiful, modern facility.

Of course, the best way to show the quality of a school is to see what its students do after leaving the educational space. Fortunately, CDI reported a 93% completion rate among students in its last report to the U.S. Department of Education, and students are consistently in high demand from diving companies throughout the world.

 

Commercial Divers come from many backgrounds and take different career paths.  Learn about our founders and their careers in Surface-Supplied Diving through both Military and Commercial perspectives.

RICHARD PHILLIPS

Richard Phillips obtained his commercial diver certification and began working in the industry in 1991. Originally from Kansas, he was eager to travel and was employed in the Gulf of Mexico working on offshore platforms for American Oilfield Divers in 1992, shortly after Hurricane Andrew.  After becoming certified as a Mixed-Gas Diver, he also worked on oil platforms off the coast of Nigeria.

Throughout the 1990s he also worked for several inland commercial diving companies performing inspections and repairs on hundreds of bridges, hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants, and other infrastructure throughout the United States.  Between commercial diving jobs, he was routinely employed on fishing boats in the Bering Sea, Alaska often encountering Sea Swells of 60 ft and 100 mph winds.

 

In 1999, after years of heavy Marine Construction, Commercial Diving, including pile driving, barge & tug work for other companies; he started his own Commercial Diving operation in the Pacific Northwest , completing Federal , State ,City and Municipalities public works projects throughout the continental U.S and U.S territories.  Though starting small, the company grew to specialize in Heavy Marine Civil Construction and Commercial Diving as a Prime contractor, with an emphasis on offshore/ocean outfall pipes all along the West Coast as well as completing several heavy infrastructure repairs on Alaskan waterways and ports of call.

 

Example of Certifications held by Richard Phillips include:

  • ADCI Surface-Supplied Air Diver/Supervisor

  • ADCI Nitrox Diving Supervisor

  • ADCI Mixed Gas Diver

  • Texas A&M Offshore Safety & Survival, Marine Firefighting & Marine Survival Crafts

  • Underwater Welder Certs: AWS D1.1-10 ASTMA-36 Unlimited, AWS D3.6-93 ASTM A-36 Unlimited

  • USDOT/Federal Highway Administration Bridge Inspector

  • USACE Unlimited Diver and Supervisor

  • Kirby Morgan Maintenance and Repair Technician

  • Kirby Morgan User/Operator Course Instructor

  • GORSKI G3000SS HELMET Operator/User

 

Richard and Gina Phillips ,after over 18 years owning and operating a Marine Construction and Commercial Diving company, discovered the task of hiring and assembling a skilled and capable commercial dive teams to fulfill the varying requirements of projects across the country had become more and more challenging through the years, with less than 10 commercial diving schools in the USA to provide individuals with the education and intense training required for success in this profession. The hiring challenges inspired the idea to organize a school and implement a comprehensive program built with the needs of the industry’s changing environment in mind. The objective was to produce relevant elite professionals trained and educated by highly experienced industry experts to improve the preparation of the next generation of commercial divers.

The complete commercial diving training program was developed after collaboration with many professionals in the industry and ultimately resulted in a partnership with seasoned professional commercial diver Mr. Mark Plowman.

CDI is proud to have been the First Commercial Diving School to successfully completed the ADCI audit by demonstrating satisfactory compliance with the ADCI consensus standards for Commercial Diving and Underwater Operations.

 

When Richard is not busy with CDI activities , he enjoys family time with his wife (Gina Phillips) , children, grandchild, friends and dogs. He also enjoys Travel, Auto racing and Smoking meats Kansas City style.

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Founder
Executive Director/Diving Instructor

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Founder/President/Chief Administrator

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MARK PLOWMAN

Mark Plowman grew up in the Pacific Northwest with interest in a commercial diving career at a very young age. Mark has been fortunate to work on a variety of salvaging vessels, on dams, pipelines, pile work, and employed for years with Richard Phillips dive company.

Some of Mark’s most memorable job experiences include conducting salvage operations of the Costa Concordia, a cruise ship that capsized and sank off the shores of Italy. Mr. Plowman also did several projects during his employment with Richard Phillips, in Alaska.

In 2015, Mark dove 270 feet below the surface on a salvage job of the RMS Republic (the sister ship of the Titanic), a ship that sank off the coast of Nantucket over 100 years ago. This ship was featured on the History Channel’s show, Billion Dollar Wreck. Mark was one of the salvage divers on Season 1.

 

FOUNDER/ DIRECTOR/ BOARD CHAIRPERSON

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Gina Phillips has been in the Commercial Diving and Marine Construction industry for over 19 years. As Co-founder and Vice President / Director of Richard Phillips Marine in the Pacific NW, she acquired extensive knowledge and experience in managing hundreds of Commercial Divers/Tenders , Pile Buck workers, Subcontractors and Administrative support staff personnel to successfully execute and complete contracted public work projects obtained through competitive bid processing throughout the US. Her duties included Hiring and retaining employees, Contract Administration and Negotiations, Bidding and Estimating preparation and execution, Purchasing and Accounting , Certified Payroll and Benefits administration.
 

After an unexpected decline in health in 2011, that ultimately brought her to remarkable medical care at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, AZ, a necessitous decision was made to relocate to Arizona.  Commercial Divers International was in its early developmental stages and was revised to establish a Commercial Dive School in the desert. After a suitable building was discovered in Goodyear, AZ the Idea of having the opportunity to specialize in training the next generation of commercial divers became a reality.
 

When Gina is not busy with school activities, she enjoys spending time with her family, friends, her 3 dogs , and going to Spring Training and regular season MLB games

GINA PHILLIPS

Our Commercial Divers Int’l Team

 

As you can see, our team includes instructors, administrators, and founders with a variety of real-world experience that spans the past few decades. Indeed, many of our instructors also worked around the world, with individual professional careers that stretch back to the 1980s. On the other hand, we also have instructors who were graduating members of the CDI program. This means that students will receive a full-circle understanding of the nature of commercial diving, from those who’ve seen it all to those who’ve seen it most recently.

Our backbone of administrative staff is also well poised to help our students excel. Our Director of Admission, Assistant Financial Aid Director, and Director all work together to deliver outstanding results to our students, whether it’s working with them to ensure they have the resources needed to attend or partnering with them on the pursuit of their dream career. This means that students can expect devoted, individual attention during their time in our training program.

Of course, none of this would be possible without our founders. With their own experience as professional divers and owning diving companies, they have the first-hand knowledge and skills to build a training program that creates exciting new career paths for our students.

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MEET OUR ADMINISTRATORS

Elaina Arpino

   Elaina Arpino Grew up a “Navy Brat” and was born in Spain. After many adventures globe-trotting with
her family, she set off on her own 20+ years serving in the United States Air Force. With many various
assignments in the continental United States and overseas, she became an expert in many airframes
from Tankers, Airlift, and fighter aircraft, culminating in the advancement of the Joint Strike Fighter.
With an exciting career of 13 deployments, 17 countries, and five continents traveled, Elaina has found
her home in the west valley of Arizona.
 

   Elaina is a panel member for the University of Arizona Global Campus Women in Science, Technology,
Engineering and Math (STEM), Golden Key Honor Society, and SALUTE Veterans Honor Society Member
and partners with the community to advance and recognize female contributions in STEM fields.
Elaina brings two teaching and Professional Manager certifications accredited by the Community College
of the Air Force, two Associate degrees in Applied Sciences, and a bachelor’s degree in Organizational
Management. As an instructor, she taught 3,200 hours as a field technical trainer. Her love for education
awarded her Master Instructor and subject-matter expert commendations in and outside of the military.
Her passion for guiding, mentoring, and developing career-seekers brings her to Commercial Divers
International.

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DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS

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jennifer garner

assistant financial aid director

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I grew up an Air Force brat which afforded me the ability to meet lots of interesting people throughout the years.  After living in places like Las Vegas, NV, Guam, and Southern California we moved to Arizona in 1981.  My parents grew up there, so it was nice to be close to family.  I grew up in the Valley of the Sun but every chance I get I am at the beach which is my true love!  The peaceful serenity of the ocean, there is nothing like it!  When I am not working, I love to spend time with my 18-year-old son, who is my best friend and my two beautiful Springer Spaniels, Jax and Harper.  I also love watching football and playing fantasy football!  I have over 20 years of Administrative experience and 5+years of Financial Aid experience as well as finance and mortgage.  I love conquering new challenges and growing as an individual and as a professional.  I enjoy working with young people to help them achieve their goals and do everything I can to help them on their path to success.  This is why this role with Commercial Divers International is a perfect fit! 

 

TESTIMONIALS

Our goal at CDI is to train commercial divers by delivering real-world experiences that help develop a real-world skillset. This makes the divers who train at our facility highly sought after and better able to navigate their chosen career path. We’re always proud whenever we hear from a recent graduate letting us know about their job or posting, as we’ve only done our job when you’ve been hired for yours.

We train divers from all around the country. To make it easy to receive your certification, we offer a variety of financial aid packages, including scholarships, access to federal financial aid, and military veterans' programs. This means that we may be able to help you regardless of your current financial situation. Make sure to read about our aid programs for civilians and veterans on our website.

Throughout your time at CDI, we’ll prepare for you both underwater situations and post-graduation life. All graduates receive lifetime career placement benefits, and as you get closer to your graduation date, we’ll begin partnering with you on your portfolio and resume to best ensure a placement that’s well-suited for your skillset. Ninety-three percent of our students graduated, according to our most recent report to the United States Department of Education, and we’re regularly in contact with commercial dive companies who are looking to recruit our recent graduates.

All of this is to say that we feel incredible pride whenever we receive testimonials from our graduates letting us know how we’ve positively affected their lives. From our world-class facilities in Goodyear, Arizona, our expert instructors, and our career support, we try to give our students what they need to excel in their careers.

When you’re ready to seek all the benefits a career in commercial diving allows you, make sure to reach out to us. You can schedule a tour of our facilities in beautiful Goodyear, Arizona, or ask us any questions by calling 623-882-3483.

Proud alumni! Many doors opened once I graduated and they never stopped opening. Love the staff and everyone involved! They will put you on the route you need to become a diver, the rest is on you!! CDI, thank you for the life I now live and what the future holds!!

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KALUA ELLIS

 

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