March 25, 2008
Commercial divers build, repair, and inspect structures that are submerged in liquid. These divers might weld underwater cracks in deep-sea oil rigs, lay the foundation for a bridge piling, inspect pipes in water treatment plants, or rig and remove a 300,000-pound concrete remnant from the bottom of a river.
Many divers start out working on oil rigs because opportunities are plentiful, the pay is good, and the job provides a chance to travel the world. Divers who want more time at home can work inland on dams, bridges, ports, and shipyards.
The difficulties divers face are reflected in their pay. Divers usually earn more than most other construction, installation, and repair workers, and the potential for very high wages is often greater. Commercial divers who worked as employees earned a median of $19.03 an hour in May 2006, meaning that half of divers earned more than that amount and half earned less. Ten percent of divers earned more than $36.43, and 10 percent earned less than $12.79.
Just as in other construction careers, though, pay can be sporadic. Despite the financial uncertainty, some divers see a variable schedule as freedom. Most people are attracted to diving by a sense of adventure, as well as by the promise of a well-paying career.