Commercial divers looking to enter the most advanced form of their profession look to saturation diving job opportunities. Arguably the most demanding type of commercial diving, saturation diving requires only the most experienced and confident divers. Becoming a saturation diver requires specialized training because these divers are put under strenuous conditions, living under pressure for days at a time. If you are interested in pursuing a career in saturation diving, consider the details of the job before choosing this path. While saturation diving salary can be very appealing to most prospects, the day-to-day life on the job can be very demanding.
What is saturation diving?
Saturation diving is one of the most advanced forms of commercial diving. In an offshore or inland commercial dive job, the diver returns to the surface to normalize pressure after the dive. Many dives require that the diver go back under the water multiple times over the course of the job. In short, this process requires a lot of time and resources. As a result, SAT diving was Invented to combat these wasted time and resources because you decompress only once.
As a saturation diver, you are submerged in the water in a small pressurized chamber. The diver lives for 28 days in this small topside chamber. It is pressurized to the same level as the underwater construction environment, so divers do not have to decompress after each shift. They are lowered to the depth using a diving bell.
Similar to offshore diving, saturation diving operates on a 24/7 cycle. Typically, two to three divers per team. Normally, three to four teams are housed in the SAT chamber. They rotate between shifts of six to eight hours each. On their underwater excursions, based on the requirements of the job, they may inspect structures, install spool pieces, complete flange-ups, underwater weld and burn, conduct nondestructive testing, undertake maintenance, and once in a while, get to do a little ocean floor exploring.
What is required to become a saturation diver?
To become a saturation diver, you must already be certified as a professional commercial diver. Those who are interested in furthering their career should note that saturation diving programs are very rare. In fact, there are only two or three schools in the world that offer the necessary coursework and certification.
However, if you are intent on pursuing a career in saturation diving, you should have all of the following requirements.
- A professional commercial diving certification from a reputable school
- Years of professional diving experience (specifically, offshore diving)
- Experience with mixed-gas diving
Learn more about the professional requirements for saturation diving by speaking to a prospective student representative at your commercial diving school. You should also learn from the professionals themselves, if you can, to get information about the training and daily life on the job.
Saturation diving salary breakdown
However, most saturation divers gain several years of mid-level experience before attempting a dive into the deeper waters. Again, there’s not a shortcut to the big bucks. If you want to make saturation diving part of your career, prepare for many hours within a hyperbaric environment.
Generally speaking, saturation divers can make up to $30,000 – $45,000 per month. Annually, this can add up to over $180,000. A unique salary addition for saturation divers is “depth pay,” which can pay out an additional $1- $4 per foot. We should note that depth pay is for air and mixed gas diving.
You’ll earn a day rate and an hourly bonus while SAT diving. For example, your on-deck day rate could be $650 per day, but your SAT bonus is hourly. For example, $33.00 per hour x 24hr day is $792 plus your $650 per day rate. That equates to around $1,400 per day. Additionally, another bonus can include “double bubble”, which is when you dive deeper than normal depths. Your income as a saturation diver is also dependent upon the length and depth of the project as well as your tenure as a diver. Saturation divers can also earn additional bonuses due to the time and physical strain that their bodies undergo.
The primary factors that will determine your saturation diving salary include the following.
- Your past experience
- Your diving certification
- The job’s environment
- The depth of work
- The dive methods
- The underwater equipment
- The distance offshore
- Any required overtime
- Other specific job site factors
Divers Institute of Technology & Saturation Diving
Divers Institute of Technology offers one of the only saturation diving programs in the country. With experienced staff and a comprehensive curriculum, divers leave our program with a full range of knowledge, prepared to take on all the demands of the work. Jadon Anderson is a staff member and instructor at DIT, and he provides top-notch training for his students. To learn more about saturation diving, Divers Institute, and the available programs, contact us today! Otherwise, you can fill out an application to get started.
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