What Does a Salvage Diver Do?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 05 April 2020
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A salvage diver works in shallow or deep water to recover lost or valuable objects. He or she might also inspect and repair ships or infrastructure below the surface of a river or ocean. A treasure hunter who works as a salvage diver attempts to locate shipwrecks or other antiquities under the sea and recover lost objects. Law enforcement might employ a salvage diver to recover submerged evidence from an accident or crime.

Salvage divers might dredge the bottom of a river or ocean to clear silt or sand from objects under water. They also use welding and cutting tools when conducting repairs or building structures, such as bridges. Divers working on salvage operations typically know how to properly rig objects using hooks or other lifting equipment to recover fragile items without damaging them.

Rigging techniques are especially important at archeological sites where sunken objects need special care to preserve their monetary or historical value. A salvage diver working on these projects might also keep precise archeological records, along with mapping each area where treasure is found. These measures might become part of the official historical record of recovery efforts.

Some salvage divers work on their own seeking ancient shipwrecks to recover lost treasure. This is considered a challenging job requiring a huge amount of time with little chance of success. These divers cover vast oceans and typically pore over historical records in hopes of finding undiscovered valuables.


Some branches of the military offer salvage diver training courses to prepare recruits for underwater duties. A salvage diver working in the military might inspect and repair the underside of ships using welders and other tools. He or she might also look for underwater hazards and clear debris with explosives.

Military salvage divers commonly examine bridges or roads for damage in war zones. Their jobs might include repairing piers or bridges when damage makes them unsafe for use. In some instances, military salvage divers demolish bridges or roads used by enemy forces. They might also retrieve equipment lost at sea.

Diving schools typically offer courses to prepare students for salvage diving careers. A combination of hands-on underwater work and classroom instruction usually occurs over several weeks of training. Students typically learn how to safely operate and maintain underwater power tools and how to properly use explosives. Some diving schools require an aptitude test before accepting students.

A salvage diver might work in clear, warm water or in murky areas with low visibility. He or she should be a strong swimmer who isn’t prone to claustrophobia, because the job might require working in tight spaces. A task might become dangerous when ocean currents shift large objects without warning. A diver employed for investigative work needs expertise in preserving evidence that might be needed in a trial.


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