If you missed out on being an astronaut, why not be an aquanaut? Just as an astronaut travels in space, an aquanaut travels under water. There are a surprising number of careers underwater. Scuba diving is one way to be an aquanaut.
Do you like to work with your hands? Underwater welding might be the ideal field for you. According to underwaterwelding.com underwater welding is becoming a highly valued skill for divers to have. The site notes that due to technological advances, the demand by shipbuilding, oil and gas pipeline companies for underwater welders and divers is global. The job requires both a diving and welding certification. Divers and welders can enhance their competitiveness in their field by pursuing additional certifications. Salaries, according to underwaterweldingguide.com vary from $15,000 to as high as $ 150,000 a month. There are programs available that are directly tied to employers such as the Diver Academy.edu.
Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Industry (AUV)
According to IBIS World, the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) manufacturing industry has generated robust growth over the past five years. From 2008 to 2013, industry revenue has grown at an average annual rate of 13.8% to an estimated $156.9 million in revenue. IBIS World notes that the industry generates the majority of its revenue from military and security markets which use AUV's for surveillance, reconnaissance, mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare. However, IBIS notes that the industry has generated its fastest growth from rising usage of AUVs by oil and gas companies for mapping the ocean floor and performing pipeline inspections.
According to a report by TechNavio, "Global Underwater Robotics Market 2012-2016," the underwater robotic market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.77 percent in the four-year period from 2012 to 2016. This report says that undersea mining is a key industry in driving the growth. The industry has been developing smart underwater robots capable of performing many mining tasks.
Robotic design and engineering skills are important, but internships are also available. You may even get to test the underwater robots.
This job involves construction and demolition of things such as underwater bridges and tunnels.
Are you intrigued with ship wrecks and historic underwater cities? According to AUCA, underwater archeology is a growing career field with over 15 universities offering some type of program. The jobs are posted on this site, and many are global opportunities. AUCA notes there are more opportunities for Master and PhDs than there are positions for BA degrees.
Underwater Photographers and Filmographers
Can you picture yourself as an underwater photographer? Many make their careers in the field. According to the BLA, jobs for photographers, including those who work underwater, are expected to increase 13 percent by 2020. Jobs for underwater photographers will be created by marine life magazines, television production companies and corporations involved in underwater salvaging. According to an article by Rick Suttle, the average salary is $40K per year but the salary increases the deeper you dive for photo shoots, noting that some photographers exceed $60,000. The field requires diving certifications and pay varies with experience and expertise.
In a photographer/filmmaker's career profile interview by oceanexplorer.noaa.gov, Jill Heinerth noted that her underwater film and photographer hybrid career evolved from her love of fine art with her 20 years of diving experience. She created an underwater productions photography firm that takes her to global sites such as Russia, Antarctica, Central America with pay as high as $325 per hour or $400 - $800 per day.
Even the hospitality industry is getting into the water. This sector includes underwater tour guides who lead swims with dolphins and sharks, divers who clean the aquarium tanks in museums and parks, divers who teach diving skills and lead expeditions. There are even underwater hotels and restaurants. Jules Undersea Lodge in the Florida Keys is a fully submerged hotel that guests can enter by scuba diving 21 feet below the water. They have round the clock staff servicing their dining room, concierge, housekeeping and entertainment.
Dubai, Fiji, and the Maldives have plans underway for posh underwater resorts. The Fiji Poseidon Resort projects to have 24 underwater suites, suites over the water, and beachfront locations. $15,000 per person will get you a week with multiple nights in each type of suite, piloting lessons in a mini-submarine, and a personal butler to move you from one room to another. The resort will also have a spa, scuba lessons, seven bars, six restaurants (one underwater, of course), and a nine-hole golf course. The Fiji Poseidon Resort touts that they have a long waiting list for reservations that will last years.
While jobs for these hotel and underwater tourism services might be in the future there are a variety of jobs and careers for people who want to be in or under the water and these jobs pay well.
Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti is a leading thought leader on career development. She is the author of ten books, a regular media contributor, and global speaker. She is a key advisor for recruiting and outplacement firms. Her most recent book is Women Lead: Career Perspectives from Workplace Leaders. Tracey is a visiting scholar at Stanford University Media X program, researching the impact of technology on future careers. Find Tracey on Twitter and Facebook.