Career Definition for a Life Support Technician
Life support technicians are responsible for ensuring the safety of divers in decompression chambers or deep water saturation systems. Their duties include mixing breathing gases, making dive schedules and serving as the link between the diving supervisors and divers. While monitoring divers' conditions, technicians control the oxygen content in gas mixtures and maintain carbon dioxide concentrations. They also oversee factors related to temperature, pressure and humidity.
|Education||Completion of a certificate program or professional certification program|
|Job Skills||Knowledge of physics and physiology, ability to pass a physical examination|
|Average Salary (2017)*||$55,270 (all commercial divers)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||11% (all commercial divers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Life support technicians typically complete a series of courses that culminate in a certificate. Required coursework includes topics in first aid, safety at sea and offshore safety induction. Life support technicians also learn how to respond to emergencies and receive training in fire fighting and underwater escape by way of helicopters. Additionally, some schools offer professional certification programs that have been approved by the International Marine Contractors Association.
Life support technicians must have knowledge of physics and physiology, as well as understand all of the medical aspects of supporting divers in high-pressure environments. Technicians must be in good physical condition and have the ability to pass a physical examination.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report employment and salary information for life support technicians in particular. However, the BLS has projected an 11%, or faster-than-average, increase in employment for commercial divers nationwide between 2016 to 2026, which may result in a growing need for life support technicians (www.bls.gov).
Alternate Career Options
Similar careers in this field include:
EMTs and Paramedics
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics provide on-the-scene assistance for accident victims or people who have fallen ill, as well as transport them to a hospital, if necessary. Minimum educational requirements for both basic and advanced EMTs include a high school diploma and completion of a non-degree training program in emergency medical technology; paramedics will most likely need a 2-year degree in the field. According to the BLS, the number of job openings for emergency medical technologists and paramedics will grow by 15%, or much faster than average, nationwide from 2016-2026. In May 2017, an EMT or paramedic earned a median annual wage of $33,380 (www.bls.gov).
Lifeguards, Ski Patrol and Other Recreational Protective Service Workers
Lifeguards, ski patrollers and other protective service workers monitor the safety of recreation enthusiasts on beaches, ski slopes or in pools. In addition to a high school diploma, entry-level requirements include on-the-job training. As reported by the BLS, employment prospects for lifeguards, ski patrollers and other protective service professionals are expected to increase by an average rate of 8% from 2016-2026. As of May 2017, workers employed in these positions earned median yearly salaries of $21,290 (www.bls.gov).