How Much Do Saturation Divers Make? Career Potential

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Saturation diving is a specialized commercial diving that requires divers to live and work in underwater habitats for extended periods. These divers are responsible for a range of tasks, including the installation and maintenance of underwater structures, the repair of offshore oil and gas platforms, and the retrieval of sunken ships and aircraft.

There are many factors that can affect saturation divers’ salaries and job prospects, including their experience, qualifications, and location. The average saturation diver earns more than $150,000 per year, with some earning over $200,000.

What Does a Saturation Diver Do?

Saturation divers are highly skilled professionals who are responsible for a range of tasks, including the installation and maintenance of underwater structures, the repair of offshore oil and gas platforms, and the retrieval of sunken ships and aircraft. They may also be responsible for performing underwater surveys, inspecting pipelines, and conducting research.

The work of saturation divers is physically demanding and can be dangerous. Divers must be able to work in cramped, dark, and pressurized environments and must be able to tolerate long periods in isolation. They must also be able to work in difficult conditions, such as strong currents and extreme temperatures.

What Are the Qualifications for a Saturation Diver?

To become a saturation diver, individuals must have a high level of diving experience and a commercial diver certification. They must also have completed specialized training in saturation diving, which typically includes classroom instruction and hands-on training.

In addition to these basic qualifications, saturation divers must be in good physical condition, have strong problem-solving skills, and work well under pressure. They must also be able to pass a rigorous medical examination and be able to pass a psychological evaluation to ensure they can handle the demands of working in isolation.

Requirements to Become a Saturation Diver Welder

Becoming a saturation diver requires education, training, and experience. Here are some of the detailed requirements for becoming a saturation diver:


  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Completion of a commercial diving program that is accredited by the Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI) or the International Diving Institute (IDI)


  • Completion of a saturation diving program accredited by the ADCI or IDI.
  • These programs include classroom instruction and hands-on training in saturation diving techniques and safety.
  • Training in diving medicine and emergency procedures, including first aid and CPR
  • Training in the use of specialized saturation diving equipment
  • Training in underwater welding and cutting, as well as other underwater construction techniques


  • A minimum of 100 dives as a commercial diver
  • Experience working in a variety of diving environments and conditions
  • Various diving techniques and equipment experience


  • Completion of the ADCI or IDI saturation diving program
  • Saturation diving certification from ADCI or IDI
  • Completion of a physical examination and dive physical
  • ADCI or IDI standards

It’s worth noting that these are general guidelines, and specific requirements may vary depending on the employer and the location of the job. Additionally, saturation divers must maintain their certification by completing regular refresher training, physicals, and dive medicals and adhering to industry standards for safety and best practices.

How much do saturation divers make?

The salary for saturation divers can vary depending on several factors, including experience, qualifications, and location. Saturation divers are some of the highest-paid professionals in the diving industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for commercial divers is $56,050. However, saturation divers can earn significantly more than this, with some earning over $500,000 per year. The high pay is due to the dangerous and demanding nature of the work and the specialized skills and training required to become a saturation diver.

Saturation diving salaries are primarily determined by the factors listed below. 

  • Your experience
  • Your diving certification
  • The environment of the job
  • Work depth
  • Methods of diving 
  • Equipment used underwater
  • Offshore distance
  • Overtime if needed

In addition to their base salary, saturation divers may receive bonuses and other incentives, such as housing allowances, transportation allowances, and hazard pay. They may also be eligible for health and other benefits, such as life insurance and retirement plans.

How to Get More Salary as a saturation diver

There are several ways that a saturation diver can potentially earn more in their career:

Experience and Training

As with any profession, the more experience and training a saturation diver has, the more they will be able to command in terms of salary. Divers who have multiple certifications and experience working in different types of environments and conditions will generally be able to earn more than those who are less experienced.


Divers willing to work in remote or offshore locations may earn more than those who work in more populated areas. This is because the work in these locations is often more challenging and comes with added risks.


Saturation divers who work in the oil and gas industry earn higher salaries than those in other industries such as construction, salvage, or environmental.

Specialized Skills

A saturation diver with specialized skills, such as welding, cutting, or other underwater construction skills, can earn more than one without such skills.

Overtime and Hazard Pay

Saturation divers may earn more through overtime and hazard pay for working in dangerous or challenging conditions.

It’s worth noting that salary is not the only consideration when considering ways to earn more as a saturation diver. Divers should also consider the job’s risk and physical and mental demands. Additionally, it’s important to remember that the saturation diving industry can be cyclical, and pay rates can fluctuate depending on the demand for the services that saturation divers provide.

Also Read: Why Do Underwater Welders Die

Career Prospects for Saturation Divers

The demand for saturation divers is expected to remain strong in the coming years as the oil and gas industry expands and the need for underwater infrastructure and maintenance increases. Additionally, the increasing focus on renewable energy sources, such as offshore wind farms, is expected to create new opportunities for saturation divers.

While the job can be physically demanding and dangerous, saturation diving can be a rewarding and well-paying career for those with the right qualifications and experience.

Additional skills required to become a saturation welder

In addition to the education, training, and experience required to become a saturation diver, several additional skills are required to become a saturation welder. Some of these skills include:

Welding Skills

  • Knowledge and experience with various welding techniques, including shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), and gas metal arc welding (GMAW)
  • Experience with welding in a variety of environments, including underwater and in a pressurized chamber
  • Familiarity with welding codes and standards, such as the American Welding Society (AWS) D3.6 standard for underwater welding

Mechanical Skills

  • Knowledge and experience with basic mechanical principles and the ability to troubleshoot and repair mechanical equipment
  • Familiarity with the use and maintenance of specialized welding and cutting equipment

Communication Skills

  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • The ability to work effectively in a team environment
  • The ability to understand and follow complex instructions and procedures

Physical Skills

  • Physical stamina and the ability to work in a physically demanding environment
  • Good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity

Safety Skills

  • Knowledge of diving safety and emergency procedures
  • Familiarity with OSHA regulations and standards related to welding and diving
  • Understanding of the hazards of welding and diving, including the risk of decompression sickness and hypothermia.

These skills are essential for a saturation welder, as they are responsible for welding and cutting underwater, which is a demanding and high-risk task. They must also be able to work in a pressurized environment and can troubleshoot and repair equipment. They also must have good communication skills as they work in a team and must be able to understand and follow complex instructions and procedures.

The Risks and Rewards of Saturation Diving

Saturation diving is considered one of the most dangerous and demanding forms of commercial diving. The risks include equipment failure, decompression sickness, and other health hazards. However, the rewards can be significant for those willing to take on these risks. Saturation divers can explore the ocean’s depths and discover new species and underwater resources. They also can earn high salaries and enjoy the unique experience of living and working at the bottom of the ocean.

Final Thoughts on How Much Do Saturation Divers Make

Saturation diving is a unique and challenging career that offers the opportunity for underwater exploration and discovery. It also offers high salaries and the chance to live and work at the bottom of the ocean. However, it is also a dangerous and demanding profession that requires specialized skills and training. Those willing to take on the risks will find that saturation diving can be a rewarding and fulfilling career.

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About the author

Rashal A.

I'm Rashal, a professional welder, who works in this industry since 2012. I'm here to share my experience with you. Hope you like my effort.

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