While there isn’t a traditional college education required for most jobs in this field, certificate and degree programs in topics related to diving do exist. Degrees in diving sciences and underwater photography are available for those who are interested in specializing in underwater research or underwater photography. SCUBA instructors must take extra courses in addition to the basic diving certification in order to be qualified. They are also obligated to maintain CPR and first aid certification.
Although most repair-based diving jobs often require additional credentials like a construction degree from a trade school, specific to the individual job.
For example, if one wishes to pursue underwater welding a welding degree would be necessary as opposed to a job in underwater demolition requires a degree in underwater explosive training. Similarly, in order to become an underwater archeologist, the job requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree in archaeology, in addition to the SCUBA certification.
Salary ranges depend on the specific sub-genre of a career.
Xello, a website specializing in career information, states that for commercial divers, pay varies widely. In general, incomes range from about $30,000 to more than $150,000 a year. Saturation divers, specialized deep-level divers, can earn much more, sometimes over $200,000 a year. The median income is about $50,000 a year. Although, pay depends on the amount of work divers get and the industry they are working in. It also grows with experience and the depth to which they dive. For example, saturation divers earn more than air or mixed gas divers.
Divers are often paid on an hourly or daily basis. For example, an entry-level inland diver may start out making about $15 an hour. An experienced offshore diver might make as much as $1,200 a day. Those who do contract work are hired for a fixed period of time and for a fixed amount of money.
As recorded by Xello, some diving instructors are paid a yearly or monthly salary, while others are paid by the hour. Individuals in this field often earn between $1,000 and $3,000 a month. For instructors who work year-round, that works out to about $12,000 to $36,000 a year. However, some experienced instructors earn more than this. An instructor whose job includes selling gear in a dive shop might earn between $45,000 and $60,000 a year once a commission is factored in. In addition, diving instructors work all over the world, and, their wages depend on the economic conditions of the country they work in.
For example, an instructor working in Mexico usually earns less than one in the US. However, it costs less to live in Mexico. Of course, the income also depends on how many hours an instructor works during the course of a year. In some areas, like the Caribbean, instructors can work and make money all year. In other areas, divers can only work seasonally. According to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, diving instructors in Michigan make between $19,400 and $74,000, with a median pay of $30,420. This varies differently from Hawaii, where the pay ranges from $19,400 to $97,310, with a median pay of $45,870 annually.
As stated by Comparably, the salaries of Underwater Archaeologists in the US range from $13,805 to $366,461 a year, with a median salary of $66,235 per year. Depending on geographical location, annual salaries vary greatly for underwater archaeologists, ranging from $30,000 for lower-level technicians to $90,000 for upper-level management and academic positions. Pay largely depends on the level of education, training, experience, location, and budget. Although, underwater archaeologists’ career opportunities are difficult to determine as the field of underwater archaeology is quite obscure and there is a scarcity of full-time positions.
Really, in becoming a professional diver, several career opportunities are open, with just the basic education. Although some jobs have better prospects than others, ultimately, SCUBA diving will always be essential. Jobs in diving are necessary for science, construction, and history, as well as recreation. Long-time professional SCUBA diver and SCUBA instructor Keith Hintz predicts that “Over the next 5 to 10 years, work training, recreational scuba divers will be affected by the economy, climate change, tourism, etc. But exactly how it would be affected is pure speculation. There will probably be an increase in the next 5-10 years in the training of professional divers (ie engineers, welders, etc) due to the fact there is much work to be done on the structures being built or needing repair in and around water.” Thus, becoming a professional SCUBA diver has ample opportunity to be fun, fulfilling, and worthwhile.
As stated above, only some specific SCUBA career choices require a college education. For those wishing to become SCUBA diving instructors, college is unnecessary but training is required. The narrative is different though if you wish to become a commercialized construction diver. To pursue such a career, it is imperative to get a degree. There are many trade schools that offer construction degrees but a select few offer degrees specific to the aquatic. CDA Technical Institute in Jacksonville, Florida is a post-secondary welding school that offers “the most comprehensive and rigorous program… of all the other commercial accredited diving schools.”, according to the institute themself. As such, it would be best to attend this school to pursue this degree. While this is far from where I currently reside and the net tuition would be $38,041 annually ( as stated by the CDA Techincal Institute), the program would still be worthwhile given that Florida has more job security than most states (although not the most).
In order to become an underwater archaeologist, a college degree is mandatory. Schools that offer marine archaeology degrees are very few but the best programs can be found at the University of Hawaii at Manoa or Florida State University. Both programs offer internships and direct research/career opportunities through their respective higher education institutions. Both are very far from my own home, but here are no available programs closer than Indiana in underwater archaeology. According to collegesimply.com, the net price for attending the University of Hawaii is $51,890, while the net price for attending Florida State University is $34,686. While the prices are very different, my preferred program would be at the University of Hawaii due to the increased salary possibilities in Honolulu being an average of $78,034, versus in Florida where my average salary would be $64,148 annually, which can be compared as found on Comparably.com.