Diving For Dollars

By E.R. CROSS

Diving, defined as the art of going and remaining underwater for a period of time, is a very ancient and venerable art. Primitive divers were fundamentally hunters and gatherers. This remained the principal motive for diving for thousands of years. In our world of modern diving, highly skilled technicians are essential for the construction, inspection, maintenance and safe functioning of most water related structures. Divers Institute of Technology in Seattle, Washington, can help you bridge the gap between simply going underwater and working as a commercial diver.

A commercial diver is a skilled, well-trained technician who uses diving as a means of transportation to reach and work underwater in oceans, lakes and rivers. It requires hard work in an exciting, ever-changing industry. This industry is a challenging way of life that recognizes and rewards the skills and initiative of its dedicated divers.

Not everyone can qualify for a career in commercial diving. The most important requirements for success are good physical health and a genuine desire to become a commercial diver. If you have the desire, a high mechanical aptitude and good manual dexterity, you have the basic requirements. Commercial diving jobs are hands-on. Experience in mechanical trades, such as welding and burning, equipment operation, or skills with construction tools and equipment are some important advantages.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Can I cooperate with other divers as a team member on difficult jobs?

  • Can I work just as well alone?

  • Can I make quick, accurate decisions when conditions change on the job?

  • As a diver, will I consistently think and act logically?

  • Am I self-motivated with a desire to meet and overcome challenges in the workplace?

  • Will I be at ease in the commercial diver's environment;whether in deep dark water or in the sun speckled shallows?



DIT is the nation's oldest commercial diving school. For the past 30 years it has provided leadership in developing well-trained workers to meet the inspection, maintenance and repair needs of aging water-related infrastructures. The DIT curriculum, training program and special classes demonstrate the leadership apparent in its graduates, many of whom are paid handsomely.

In all the years I have known John Ritter, president and director of DIT, he has frequently reiterated the policy of his training program. He told me, 'DIT was founded in June 1968. Then, as now, the institute's philosophy was to offer the best possible technical training that will prepare students to enter the commercial diving industry with confidence and skill.

'At DIT, training is carried several steps beyond simply teaching a student to dive well enough to get to and accomplish a job. We will not graduate students unless they feel they possess the ability to become qualified commercial divers. Our curriculum has always kept training at a practical, hands-on level. It is geared to the needs of the commercial diving industry.'

Recently, an inland diving contractor wrote to John. He stated it as it is, 'Our operation requires that all divers be trained to use standard deepsea dive gear. As you know, lightweight dive gear is used in offshore oil industry, but the heavy marine construction and harbor diving work is still being performed in deepsea gear... Divers trained in deepsea (hardhat) gear can work anyplace in the world and with all types of gear. We have employment opportunities for divers with heavy gear experience.'

At DIT, training and experience is provided in several models of hardhat equipment, still considered the safest piece of diving gear. Hardhat gear also has low maintenance costs. In addition, the DIT curriculum calls for complete training in the use of modern bandmasks and light helmet systems. Students not only learn to use all types of gear but master the techniques of maintenance and repair of the equipment.

Graduates of DIT are certified scuba divers. When scuba is used on some types of commercial jobs, they must be conducted according to OSHA regulations. The regulations enforced by the United States Coast Guard and the Consensus Standards for Commercial Diving of the Association of Diving Contractors' regulations are covered at DIT. Graduates of DIT know they are going the sure, safe and legal ways. There is a world full of jobs for DIT grads.

Along with diving and tending on commercial jobs, DIT graduates are often preferred for such tasks as hyperbaric chamber operators and support technicians. Some graduates may become scuba instructors, ROV operators and, occasionally, a graduate may work in marine mining or for aquaculture projects. Still others will opt for work in environmental sciences, such as beach erosion control.

Students at Divers Institute of Technology are enrolled in a 900 hour course consisting of 600 hours of practical and 300 hours of classroom work; nearly seven months of intense training for an exciting career. As part of their training, DIT graduates become proficient in skills and with tools and equipment that are sometimes considered optional in other programs.

At DIT, students train in a natural environment, not in pools or tanks. They spend seven months on boats, piers, floats and barges, or on, in and under the water. These graduates are among the elite who recognize the challenge before them and accept it with confidence and perform successfully under all conditions.

In July 1997, DIT president director John Ritter initiated a new policy; 'Have instructors;will travel.' This policy was directed particularly at organizations needing to recertify personnel in the DAN Oxygen Provider course, firefighter diver rescue training and other specialized diving related courses. Ritter stated, 'We can instruct here in Seattle on the DIT campus or wherever the training is required.'

One of the major responses to this policy of expansion was a contract with the Fire Services Department of Hong Kong, China. Hong Kong officials recognized the growing need for additional diver and rescue training for its dive team and, after an extensive international search, selected Divers Institute of Technology to provide it. Its dive team of six firefighters recently completed a highly specialized 12 week course.

This program was specifically designed to meet the needs of the Fire Services Department. It included extensive classroom and practical experience in many facets of surface supplied shallow and deep water diving, situations involving hazardous materials, advanced swift water and sea survival, aircraft immersion evacuation and aquatic rescue procedures, as well as underwater welding and cutting, hot water procedures and salvage.

These are only the highlights that impressed me most about the training at Divers Institute of Technology. Some may seem of little importance. It is the important little things at DIT that make the total picture greater and more significant than the sum of the major parts.

The work of commercial divers is vital, challenging, sometimes demanding, occasionally dangerous and often rewarding. This is an excellent time to start a career as a commercial diver. DIT graduates are now in high demand. If you are a self-starter, mechanically inclined and serious about an exciting future, write today to Divers Institute of Technology, Inc., P. O. Box 70667, Seattle, WA 98107-0667. You can also call (800) 634-8377, e-mail dit@wolfenet.com or find the Web site at www.diveweb.com/dit. In Seattle, call (206) 783-2658 for complete information.

DIT has a short video presentation about its interesting training program. Send a $10 money order for the VHS video. Or, to be sure you are making the right decision, call the institute for an appointment to visit the extensive facilities that make up the great marine campus of DIT. It is on Solomon Bay, between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, at 4315 11th Avenue NW in Seattle. Tours are available every weekday from 8:00 am and 3:00 pm. You can see classes in action and visit the barges and boats. See for yourself the outstanding variety of tools, equipment and material available for your training at DIT. You will be glad you did.