Divers Institute of Technology

Established 1968 – Veteran Owned & Operated

From Military to Business: DIT Grad Matt Navigates His Diving Career

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

“My office chair is at 150 feet underwater. My coworkers are the marine mammals and fish and critters that surround me. Just me and them…peaceful, silent, time to truly focus on what I’m doing. Another world away from what stresses me out topside.”

That’s the way Matt Fitt, Divers Institute of Technology (DIT) graduate and entrepreneur, describes his life in commercial diving.

It’s a work atmosphere that few experience.

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DIT Grad Matt Fitt (Class 106-13)

Serving Almost A Decade as a Military Veteran

Matt served in the US Navy for eight years before attending DIT. He felt right at home with the instruction, regimented coursework and fast application of skills. In other words, DIT was a great place to get his feet wet.

“Please just let me in the water and I can do anything, I always said. Not at all scared of the water. There is nothing I cannot do in the water. I feel so comfortable. Better than any desk job or field experience.”

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DIT Grad Matt Fitt (Class 106-13) in MK V gear.

Matt went to DIT to train in marine construction and HAZMAT.

Staying conscious of environmental issues, he wanted to focus on problems within the inland sector, working on marina and piers.

“I owe it all to DIT for everything and I am grateful. I would not be where I am without the amazing instructors at the institute.”

“I loved the small class I was in and the lifelong friendships and trust I made as a student at DIT.”

And it didn’t end there. After graduating from DIT, Matt went on to gain experience with offshore diving in the Gulf of Mexico. He even had the opportunity to work with three of his former colleagues whom he trained with.

…We really learned a lot,” Matt recounts.

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DIT Grad Matt Fitt (Class 106-13) with his Underwater Welding test plate during his time at school.

But life wasn’t easy for Matt’s family. With Matt working away from home for a month or more at a time, relationships became more difficult.

After two years, he chose a new career stream.

“I moved back to Washington State to start my own business. I felt I had learned enough of my new trade. I was tired of being away from family even though the money was great.”

Breaking Out: Starting a Maritime Diving Business

Matt had already broken out from dive tending to a professional commercial diver. He had a little over 100 dives under his belt.

He took all the first step to take his business to a professional level, applying for a business loan at his local bank. Since Matt’s expertise fell in line with commercial diving, he created his business around services like maritime installation and repair.

Like all small businesses, Matt experienced many periods of growing pains.

“I had to work alone and team up with other local dive companies subcontracting them, as we both could not afford the high insurance premiums. So I struggled diving by myself. And that wasn’t safe.”

The Push Toward Growth

He hustled to find clients in the industry he knew. Matt looked in many places to accumulate his network:

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Rotary Club
  • Local diving unions and networks
  • Marine Trades Association
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DIT Grad Matt Fitt (Class 106-13)

On top of all that, Matt also worked as a dive master on a dive charter for a tourism company. It not only provided him with some extra money, but also allowed him to find direction and focus for his career skillset.

Matt’s Dream Made Real

Through all of it, he was working toward a dream. It happened:

“In November in 2015, I got a full time job offer with Clean Harbors Environmental. I have a bachelor’s degree in environmental science,” Matt says.

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DIT Grad Matt Fitt on campus. (Class 106-13)

Since Matt began his training, he’d been looking for a position that allowed him to practice HAZMAT and marine construction. This was a perfect fit.

He has kept up his side job as a recreational dive master. But Matt’s doing what he loves, in a field that he excels in. He still operates his business as a consultant, but his new job at Clean Harbors is the bulk of his work.

“I owe it all to DIT for everything and I am grateful. I would not be where I am without the amazing instructors at the institute.”

Written by Matt Smith, Creator of Water Welders.

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