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What is Scientific Diving? - Monday, March 7, 2016

Scientific diving is a subset of professional diving, like commercial diving, in which divers get paid to perform crucial underwater tasks. More specifically, it is performed solely for scientific research or educational activity. This type of diving has a science-first approach, as we'll soon discover.

Many people confuse scientific diving with commercial diving, but these two subsets have different goals. Within commercial diving, divers are paid to complete tasks, like underwater demolition, cutting and welding, inspection, and moving objects. Here in the Gulf Coast region, is most commonly performed in the oil and gas industry on underwater pipelines, but can also be used in other industries as well.

Scientific diving, on the other hand, is used by scientists performing testing, research, and experiments to gather knowledge within an underwater area.

How to Become a Scientific Diver

Scientific divers are scientists first. To become a scientific diver, you probably have an advanced degree, as well as a job or research grant. Scientific work experience and specialized diver training may also be necessary.

This science-first approach makes this one of the most training-intensive professional diving jobs you can get.

The amount of training you'll need depends largely on the depths the scientist or scientific researcher will need to reach. This training includes, as a minimum, basic diving operational procedure, equipment knowledge, safety training, emergency-care procedure, and a thorough understanding of diving requirements at various depths.

In addition to diving certifications, all achieved through courses offered by standardized dive centers, scientific divers also need to learn how to use underwater equipment. The type of equipment and processes required are generally specific to the research being done, but can also include taking biological and physical samples, visual measurements of live organisms, underwater surveys, and photographs.

Life as a Scientific Diver

For recreational divers, diving is a way to take a break from everyday life to discover an entirely different, and new aquatic world. Commercial divers leave a life of normalcy behind to perform industrial, and commercial tasks while wearing a wet or dry suit, and an underwater breathing device. The life of a scientific diver is significantly different from both, as these divers work in pursuit of scientific knowledge. Their work is taxing, and can take very long periods of time to complete.

Wages for a Scientific Diver

Scientific diving can be a very engaging, fulfilling career that provides divers with a good living. Wages range from $30,000 to $90,000+ a year, and the median annual salary is about $55,000.

When you compare this to commercial divers, the salary is about on-par, as commercial divers make an average of $51,000. However, there is significantly less education required for commercial diving, so people who are interested in this field can enter the position with less student debt.

Your salary as a scientific diver largely depends on your scientific and academic qualifications, as well as your work on the job at hand. An entry-level researcher will earn at the lower end of the wage spectrum, whereas a more experienced scientist with an advanced degree will make significantly higher earnings.

Scientific Diving Equipment

Depending on the position, divers may be required to purchase their own equipment, as is often the case for those issued research grants. Those who are hired by a private company will often have their equipment provided for them.

To see some of the specialized equipment scientific divers might need, be sure to check out the scientific gear offered at Aqua-Air Industries.


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