Navy Diver: Duties, Outlook and Requirements

Sep 22, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a Navy diver. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and schooling information to find out if this is the career for you.

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Navy divers provide underwater support for missions as well as for construction and equipment maintenance projects. They are very well trained in the dive technology and techniques needed for their line of work. Navy divers must fulfill the requirements for joining the U.S. Navy and pass special tests to enter diver training.

Essential Information

Navy divers are military personnel who complete extensive and rigorous training in various dive techniques. They perform underwater duties ranging from routine ship maintenance to classified special operations support missions. To become a Navy diver, one must already be in the Navy or enlisted. Requirements to get into the Navy diver program include passing a timed physical fitness test involving swimming, running, and strength exercises. Recruited or already-enlisted sailors must also meet vision acuity requirements, meet age restrictions, and be eligible for a security clearance, in addition to earning acceptable Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test scores.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent
Other Requirements Be already enlisted or recruited in the U.S. Navy; complete the Navy diver training program; meet other military requirements for the position
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 7% for all commercial divers
Median Salary (2018)* $49,140 for commercial divers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Navy Diver Duties

Navy divers perform a variety of tasks and missions in underwater environments. They inspect, maintain, and repair a ship's hull, rudders, and propulsion screws. They salvage and recover sunken assets. Navy divers also support construction projects, for example, by performing underwater welding operations. Additionally, they participate in tactical missions, such as search and rescue efforts, harbor clearing operations, and diving support for special operations missions.

Navy divers typically use SCUBA, surface-supplied-air, mixed gas, and saturation diving methods. Navy divers might conduct operations anywhere in the world, including tropical environments and extreme cold water locations. Assignments might require divers to be deployed for extended periods.

Navy Diver Training

Initial Navy diver training includes a Diver Preparation Course that focuses on basic electrical and engineering subjects. This is followed by Second Class Dive School at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC) in Panama City, Florida. Graduation from this school is followed by an assignment to a fleet unit, where additional training takes place, such as Diving Medical Technician and Diving Medical Officer.

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Navy provides divers with a career path that includes advanced levels of dive training and promotions, including First Class Diver and Master Diver. This career path enables qualified Navy divers to pursue careers in the Navy until retirement. Navy divers might qualify for enlistment bonuses, dive pay, special duty pay, and sea pay, in addition to their normal salaries. Naval divers with a college degree might advance to officer positions.

Alternatively, some Navy divers might seek civilian employment as commercial divers after completing their Navy obligations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment options for commercial divers include working on oil rigs or for shipyards. They might maintain infrastructure, such as port facilities, dams, and bridges. During the 2018-2028 decade, the BLS predicted that job opportunities for commercial divers would increase by 7%. The BLS reported that the median salary for commercial divers was $49,140 in 2018.

Navy divers must undergo intense physical and technical training in three phases, including the initial dive training, followed by the second class training and then specialty training. After leaving the Navy, divers might seek commercial employment, maintaining infrastructure at port facilities or working on oil rigs, for instance. Commercial diving jobs are expected to growth at a faster than average pace through 2028.

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