Underwater Cameramen vs Underwater Welder 2

Commercial Diver

Welding or wide-angle, that is the question. If you’ve ever looked into professional diving, there’s a multitude of careers to build upon. Today, we’ll look at just two of those.

But before we get too far into comparisons, remember:

Professional diving is a unique, challenging field that requires years of application to master.

Few people dive for a living, and even fewer delve into construction and media niches. For commercial divers and underwater cameramen (or women), every day is different. Let’s define these careers more closely.

Commercial divers (underwater welders): These divers deal with underwater construction. Their responsibilities may take them either inland or offshore, depending on work availability, certifications and experience.

Underwater Cameramen (media divers): These men and women record marine life in oceans, lakes and rivers. They use SCUBA, and work in either photography and videography (or both). Like commercial divers, media divers often work for a variety of businesses, contracted out or employed full time.


Characteristics Commercial Diving Media Diving
Location Inland & Offshore Inland & Offshore
Responsibilities Underwater Construction Underwater Multimedia
Education Focus Trade School/Metallurgy Photography/Marine Biology
Air Supply Primarily Surface Supplied Air SCUBA
Schedule Constant (inland) or Varied (offshore) Constant (Large Multimedia Employer) or Varied (Contract)
Worker Traits Mechanical Mind; Physical Endurance Artistic; Scientific Mind & Researcher

Responsibilities & Qualifications

Commercial Divers: Heavy Lifting

Starting off, most underwater welders train in some sort of dive school. This allows them to earn commercial diving certification, such as open water, Diver Medical Technician and Unrestricted Surface Supplied Diver.

Inland commercial divers inspect, repair and maintain pipes, dams, sewers, bridges and boats. Their inspections are often performed with an “action camera” like a Go Pro on their helmets. Like underwater cameramen, they practice using their cameras so that they may obtain high quality footage of the work site.

They carry out projects in environments ranging from bizarre (hazardous materials) to intense (nuclear power plants – don’t worry: radiation levels are far lower than you think.)

Offshore underwater welders primarily work in the Gulf of Mexico on oil rigs, tankers and other ocean-borne vessels. Because of the demands of the offshore industry, these commercial divers often work much longer hours than inland. They provide services like mechanical maintenance, wet welding on pipelines, inspections of platforms and controlling Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV).

However, there’s one job that stands above the rest – kind of the crème de la crème of commercial diving: saturation diving.

Saturation divers work in deep habitats for periods that can last months.

They work in groups of two or three, inside a pressurized environment called a hyperbaric chamber. These divers get paid major money – “depth pay” ($1 – $4 per foot). This accounts for the risks they undergo, including potentially lethal conditions like decompression sickness.

Underwater Cameramen: SCUBA Masters

It’s not necessary to have a marine biology background to go into media diving, but it certainly adds to media divers’ credibility and professional knowledge. Most divers spend a good deal of time learning about their marine subjects before filming them.

Underwater cameramen often work in the media field from a topside capacity for several years before recording underwater. This helps them become familiar with many of the light and sound recording equipment. At the same time, they may train in SCUBA diving, logging their dives and becoming familiar with various depths and underwater environments.

They may work up to a PADI Dive Master level or above in their training.

While commercial divers work with multiple pieces of maritime equipment, media divers must master one in particular: the camera. Of course, they use other external attachments such as strobes and lenses, but a camera is their primary tool of choice.

And commercial divers aren’t the only ones who take calculated risks. Underwater cameramen may film dangerous sea creatures to capture their behavior. They may also work in unpredictable environments like flooded caves.

Where to Begin?

If you’re considering either one of these dive careers, we’d recommend taking your first step with SCUBA gear. There’s many dive sites in Florida that provide beautiful, serene places to practice your diving technique.

Once you’ve become familiar with the water, you can move into training for a professional career.


Underwater Cameramen Vs Underwater Welder

Which type of diving do you enjoy more? Tell us in the comments!

Written by Matt Smith, Creator of Water Welders

Matt Smith

About Matt Smith

From a young age, Matt has loved swimming and writing. At the end of 2013, he decided to combine those passions into one website - Water Welders. Now, he speaks with commercial and scuba divers around the world, telling their stories. He enjoys traveling with his wife, Beth; they have lived in the Republic of Georgia for two years. He has a great respect for all divers and the work they do.

2 thoughts on “Underwater Cameramen vs Underwater Welder

  • Breck Lewis

    I really like how you said that if you enjoy diving, that you should look into underwater welding. I think that is a smart promotion because they get paid a lot and they are doing what they enjoy. I took scuba diving lessons a while back and have really enjoyed going scuba diving since. What do these kind of welders make a year or are they just contracted out?

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