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Inspection divers are specially trained in techniques to inspect underwater structures such as dams, bridges, and water treatment facilities. The work may be either inland or offshore based.


The most common type of commercial diver is the offshore diver working in the oil and gas industry. Here is where many commercial divers enter their professional career. Hourly pay is often lower than prevailing wage public works jobs, but typically increases over time. Offshore divers live on oil platforms or vessels for long periods of time, and may work long hours for several days in a row, though most do not work year-round due do the seasonal flow of offshore operations.



Inland divers commonly do government work on land-based civil engineering operations in lakes, harbors, rivers, and dams. They do not face as many hazardous working conditions and living situations of offshore divers, and the tasks are typically infrastructure repair or inspection. Per NTSB regulation, every bridge with a pier or abutment in the water must be inspected every 5 years, while some ratings require work at least once a year, all to be done by divers. Divers for inland work are frequently hired by private companies, as well as by states/cities/municipalities, in which case they are required by law to receive prevailing wage rates. Harvest divers may be employed to collect shellfish, sponges, or timber as a commodity. Reservoirs or large potable water tanks require regular servicing by commercial divers as well.



HAZMAT divers are considered highly skilled and experienced divers who work under dangerous conditions. They have to work under special circumstances due to the dangerous materials they dive in, such as pollution, chemical tanks, or sewer diving. HAZMAT divers must take precautionary measures before, during, and after their dive to deal with the threat of contamination. Nuclear divers work under conditions much like HAZMAT divers, and may assist in power plant construction/maintenance or waste recovery. Different precautionary measures are taken to prevent the exposure of radiation. They may use a cold water suit to prevent heat stress from contaminated areas.

This short introduction to commercial diving jobs and roles gives a glimpse into the full range of career paths and roles commercially trained divers from CDI may consider as they advance in their commercial dive training. Although the job comes with a demanding and challenging environment, proper training along with good physical fitness ensures your team gets the job done safely and efficiently. CDI is the place to get started!

For more information about CDI and our programs, get in contact with a member of our team today.

Where Diving Careers Thrive 

The best place to establish and grow your diving career is a place with plenty of access to large, deep bodies of water. This can include areas near the coasts, rivers, and lakes. However, you’re not limited to just those locations. Often there are specific local needs for commercial divers, such as at golf courses or water treatment facilities. 

One of the benefits of working as a commercial diver means that there are plenty of job opportunities that allow you to live anywhere. Many companies operate nationally or even internationally. This allows you to visit new places and new countries while experiencing different cultures. 


There are plenty of states within the country that need commercial divers. They often match the characteristics laid out above, but you may also be surprised by some of the states that employ the most commercial divers. Land-locked states like Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana, and Ohio all employ hundreds of divers each year. 


According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these five states employ the most divers in the country: 

  • Florida 

  • California 

  • Texas 

  • Louisiana 

  • Alaska 


It’s clear from this list that states surrounding the Gulf of Mexico have an increased need for commercial divers. This means you may find work in Alabama, Mississippi, and some Caribbean islands. 

If you’re looking to maximize your salary from your commercial diving career, though, you’re more likely to find high-paying work on the coasts of the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean. According to the same BLS study, companies in these five states tend to pay the highest average annual salary: 

  • Alaska: $86,600 

  • Washington: $84,480 

  • New Jersey: $77,080 

  • New Hampshire: $75,500 

  • Connecticut: $72,400 


Texas, Maryland, California, New York, Alabama, and Indiana also have average annual salaries that fall between $56,410 and $70,540. Falling just below that mark, you’ll find states like Michigan, Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas with average annual salaries that range between $43,700 and $53,590. 


As anyone who’s driven through the country can attest, though, states often contain a diverse mixture of urban and rural areas. For some larger states, like California, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, you can still find high-paying commercial diving jobs by sticking to the major metropolitan centers. 


Commercial divers living in the Los Angeles area, for instance, make around $84,000 annually on average. Divers in the Philadelphia area average around $70,000 annually, and those in and near Virginia Beach typically make just under $59,000 each year.  


So, looking just at metropolitan areas, you’ll find these cities offer the highest average annual salary for commercial divers:


  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA: $84,370 

  • Anchorage, AK: $83,210 

  • Portsmouth, NH: $81,550 

  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA: $70,900 

  • Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD, $70,410 

  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL: $70,280. 


All of this is to say that your commercial diving career should be able to support you practically everywhere within the United States. Looking at where there’s a specific need, and in larger cities, though, will help you net the most profitable career. 




As demonstrated by all the places domestically, you can make a career as a commercial diver; it goes to say that you’ll have plenty of opportunities internationally to establish your career, too. This doesn’t mean you’ll have to work for an international company, though, as plenty of American-based companies work internationally. The Underwater Construction Corporation, for example, is headquartered in the U.S. but has regional offices and operates throughout the world.  


Places like China, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and South America all need commercial divers for the same reasons America does. Of course, working internationally often requires work visas and other administrative paperwork, but it comes with the benefit of living in a new place and immersing yourself in new cultures. 


Beyond the four countries or continents listed above, you should be able to find other countries in need of commercial divers:


  • Canada 

  • Greece 

  • Japan 

  • Malaysia 

  • Mexico 

  • Russia 

  • Singapore 


Many members of our staff have worked overseas, and they are more than happy to discuss their experiences working overseas. Feel free to ask them any questions to help you better understand if you’d prefer to work domestically or internationally. 


Companies Hiring Commercial Divers 

Even with the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to excel as a commercial diver, it always helps to know what companies are looking to hire. To make the search a bit easier, we’ve compiled a list of some companies who are often in need of commercial divers: 

Underwater Marine Contractors (Cleveland, OH)


Many divers are able to travel for work suiting their schedule and needs. Public works jobs funded by government agencies are required to pay divers prevailing wage hourly rates, or mandatory minimums for the work being completed. Prevailing wage rates typically require the diver to be paid for 4 to 8 hour minimums, overtime hourly payments on weekends/holidays, per foot rate increases for depths greater than 50 feet, per foot rate increases for work in enclosures, and rate increases based on the distance of the project from the governing office/diver’s residence. 

Most diving jobs require the employee to be underwater to inspect, repair, remove, or install equipment and structures. Divers use a variety of power and hand tools, such as drills, sledgehammers, torches, and welding equipment.

Divers may also be required to conduct tests/experiments, rig explosives, or photograph structures or marine life. The type of work and rate of pay depends on the location and nature of the work performed.


Commercial salvage and recovery divers are trained to search, locate, and often recover lost items. This type of diving requires specialized training in rigging and recovery techniques.'=UNDERWATER WELDER

Commercial divers train in various underwater welding and cutting techniques to facilitate marine construction projects and/or demolition or decommissioning.



Divers train to use custom mixed breathing gases to work at deeper depths for extended periods.



A fully certified commercial diver who is also trained as an E.M.T. or Paramedic. A diver medical tech provides medical support for divers and surface crew.


Dive tenders monitor and support the diver before during and after diving operations. Stand by divers are fully dressed and ready in the event of a need to assist the diver. They both are required to be fully certified commercial divers.



Scientific divers collect experimental data underwater. Work typically includes collecting samples and taking photographs or other observations of a marine environment in order to contribute to a research project.




Media divers work in underwater filming and photography. Many become trained as camera operators who mostly cover projects meant for television documentaries and movies.




Police divers assist in police investigations where a diver is need to recover something underwater.




CDI is committed to giving you the training and preparation to find work and develop your diving career well after graduation.

Using our experience in the industry, we will support your search for employment with techniques for finding work closest to your interests. Resume writing and application procedures vary depending on the type of commercial diving work you are seeking, and we provide several strategies to make the most out of your job search both immediately after completing the program and as you continue with your diving career.

We keep in touch with our students after they complete our program to make sure they have the resources and knowledge necessary to take full advantage of their training as a commercial diver.

CDI does not guarantee job placement. We work with each student to identify their career goals and provide insight into what employers will be looking for. An important outcome of our program is for our graduates to feel confident approaching jobs they want, and be competent when performing their duties.

Training for Commercial Diving Jobs 


To establish and grow your career as a commercial diver, you’ll need the right training to get you on the right path. At Commercial Divers International, we employ experienced staff members, modern facilities, and hands-on training so you can become a highly skilled and sought-after commercially licensed diver. 

Reach out to us to schedule a tour of our facilities and see how we can help you receive gainful employment as a commercial diver. Call us today at 623-882-3483 or fill out our online form to have us contact you.





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