Dive Medical Technician Programs

scuba dive

A career as a dive medical technician offers a wide range of unique opportunities to those in the diving industry.

These professionals are an essential part of both inland and off-shore diving teams, providing health care and life-saving assistance to divers.

If you enjoy working outdoors, traveling and helping others, you may be a great fit for this occupation.

Trade Schools with Divetech Programs

Many trade schools offer dive medical technician courses as part of a commercial diving program.

However, some institutions may allow experienced divers to skip ahead and enroll in the two-week DMT portion.

Those who hold EMT certifications and are medically authorized to dive can complete 30-60 hours of classroom and field training, and begin a promising career as a dive medic.

Job Requirements

First and foremost, aspiring dive medics must have EMT training and certification.

These credentials give students a background in anatomy and physiology, basic life support and CPR that will allow them to render aid and save lives.

They must also take commercial or recreational diving courses to understand marine physical science, equipment operation and administering diving-related medical care.

Next, hopefuls have to complete a Diver Medical Technician program with course approval from the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology.

In the span of about two weeks, learners renew their first aid, CPR, A.E.D. and O2 skills, and practice working with and in hyperbaric chambers. After completing both written and field exams, students become certified DMTs.

What is a Dive Medical Technician?

Dive medical technicians are the first responders of a dive site. They use the same medical procedures as EMTs and ER doctors to render aid in the event of an accident or injury.

DMTs may need to resuscitate unconscious divers, close open wounds, set broken bones and treat decompression sickness and oxygen poisoning.

Every recreational or commercial diving team must have a dive medic on staff to provide urgent underwater response when necessary.

Many off-shore work locations are several hundred miles away from the nearest emergency room, so these professionals must act quickly to stabilize injured divers until a boat or helicopter can transport them to a hospital.

Salary

On average, dive medics make about $40K per year. However, this pay rate differs based on the DMT’s experience and the company they work for.

Those who are just starting out or who work for small companies at inland locations may earn around $29K annually, while seasoned DMTs on far-off job sites may receive a salary of up to $75K or more.

Career Overview

What Are a Dive Medic’s Job Duties?

Dive medics are the EMTs of the underwater world, responding to urgent situations that place divers in danger.

Administering Care

The biggest part of their job involves administering CPR and first aid to injured patients, while also communicating with EMS until they arrive on scene. They also use oxygen therapy to treat decompression sickness and other illnesses.

Checking Health

DMTs give physical exams to all employees to make sure that they are healthy enough to dive.

Working below sea level can have varying effects on the body, so medics perform a series of checks and tests on each team member to make sure that their tolerances and abilities can stand up to the pressures of their work environment.

Checking for Hazards

In addition to saving lives, DMTs have several responsibilities that help prevent accidents and keep divers safe as they work.

For example, some of these workers check diving equipment for potential health hazards. They look for things like torn wetsuits which can expose underwater workers to cuts and other injuries, and faulty or cutoff air hoses which could cause sickness from lack of oxygen.

Administrative Work

These professionals take on a number of clerical tasks as well. DMTs organize and file the medical records of their team members, and keep them readily available in the event of an emergency.

They also take inventory of the medical supplies they have on hand, and order more materials when they are running low.

What Types of Skills Should a Dive Medic Possess?

Staying Calm

Above all else, DMTs must be able to remain focused and professional in the face of life-threatening accidents and trauma. A dive site can be a hectic and stressful place to work, and medics have to handle the care of every member of the diving team.

These conditions make the ability to stay calm and excel under pressure essential traits for these workers.

Communication

Having strong communication skills and a good bedside manner are important qualities for DMTs as well. Medics must build a rapport with their patients in order to keep them as comfortable as possible during physical exams and emergency situations.

By forming these friendly and professional connections, DMTs can help divers relax and know that their health is in good hands.

Take Charge Attitude

Leadership skills are also a must for successful dive medics. When accidents happen, these professionals need to immediately take charge and begin delegating tasks to other team members. Their rapid response is what allows them to assist injured people as quickly as possible and save lives.

Teamwork

In order to do their jobs, DMTs must rely on each other, as well as the other members of the diving team.

Alongside the ROV teams, medics monitor underwater emergencies and get injured divers to the surface as quickly and safely as possible.

They also help one another to lift and carry patients to a safe location, and work together to provide life-saving care and treatments.

Other Useful Skills

  • Physical fitness for lifting and transporting patients
  • Ability to think critically
  • Organization skills
  • Adaptability to different work conditions
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Empathy
  • Leadership skills
  • Use of teamwork

Work Environment

High Stress

Dive medics are responsible for the health and safety of every member of their diving team.

Since divers often work under dangerous conditions and in potentially hazardous environments, DMTs can expect to handle high-stress medical situations as part of their everyday routine.

They should also prepare themselves to remain professional in the face of any traumatic injuries or fatalities.

Hours

DMTs often work more than the usual ten-hour shifts of other employees in the diving industry, especially at off-shore locations which operate around the clock.

They may also have to be away from their homes and families for two to six weeks at a time. Their schedules fluctuate, however, based on weather conditions and the size of the job.

Hyperbaric Chambers & Equipment

While a dive medic’s workspace is anywhere that an accident or injury occurs, they often use hyperbaric chambers as part of their job.

Whether a site has an individual pressurized tube or a full decompression room, keeping the area and equipment clean and sanitized is vital to the treatment of sick and injured divers.

Hyperbaric chambers require constant observation when in use. These vessels use pure oxygen, which is highly flammable.

Checking the 02 masks and tubes for leaks and making sure there are no fire hazards in or near them are extremely important for maintaining a safe and functional workspace.

Where Do They Work?

From off-shore oil rigs and underwater pipelines to local dams and docks, DMTs follow commercial diving teams wherever they work. Common dive medic employers include:

  • Underwater welding and construction companies
  • Marine biology labs
  • River dive and salvage companies
  • Police diving units
  • Off-shore drilling corporations
  • Commercial diving companies
  • United States Navy and Marine Corps

Other Options for Dive Medics?

Many DMT skills are well-suited for other occupations.

Since they already have the credentials, DMTs can choose careers as EMTs, commercial divers or diving instructors.

Their knowledge of hyperbaric chambers could also gain them employment in hospitals and health spas with decompression rooms.

With some extra medical training, dive medics could choose to become nurses or Diving Medical Physicians or Examiners.

Their teamwork and communication abilities make them great candidates for human resources and customer service positions. They also can make excellent administrators and event planners due to their organizational skills and attention to detail.

Career Outlook

Commercial divers are always needed to inspect and repair underwater structures such as dams, bridges and pipelines. As the demand for divers increases, dive medic positions become more necessary to assist and treat these workers in the event of an accident or injury.

Due to these factors, experts predict 9.8% growth in this industry over the next ten years.