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Navy Diver: Duties, Outlook and Requirements

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.

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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.

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 (www.bls.gov). They might maintain infrastructure, such as port facilities, dams, and bridges. The BLS reported that the median salary for commercial divers was $47,930 as of May 2013.

Requirements

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.

Navy diver program acceptance requirements include a timed physical fitness test involving swimming, running, and strength exercises. Recruited or already-enlisted sailors must also meet vision acuity requirements, age restrictions, and eligibility for security clearance, in addition to earning acceptable Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test scores.

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