Saturation diving, also known as mixed-gas diving, is the highest level of commercial diving, working in depths past 164 feet (50 meters). Saturation diving is intense work, dangerous and demanding, requiring physical and mental stamina, as well as extensive dive training. Saturation divers wear hot-water, breath a mixture of helium and oxygen, and descend to the extreme depths in a dive bell. Before returning to the surface, saturation divers must be slowly decompressed to avoid the phenomenon known as the "bends." Becoming a saturation diver requires intense training and is best accomplished in a series of gradual steps.
Enroll in a commercial diver's training academy. This training is essential and, unless you are already a licensed commercial diver, required to properly educate you in the demanding world of commercial diving. Commercial diving academy information, including schools such as Interdive Services and the Commercial Diving Academy, is available online. Most diving academies require a high school diploma or GED.
Gain diving experience. Once you are a trained commercial diver, gain resume experience by working in the inshore diving field, such as working in harbors and inland waterways, on civil engineering projects, in-shore construction and archaeological or scientific jobs. These are typical commercial diving jobs available for you to test your commercial-diving skills. Gaining experience also helps you determine if you are capable of progressing to the saturation-dive level.
Become qualified at the mixed-gas diving level. This is the beginning of highly-specialized saturation-diving techniques, and is accomplished at shallow depths of around 70 feet. Training in the use of helium and oxygen breathing mixes, as well as required diving equipment.
Get closed-bell certified. Closed-bell diving certification is required to be a full saturation diver, and select diving academies with special facilities offer this advanced training. Closed-bell training is done at full-saturation depths up to 330 feet to prepare you for the challenging world of off-shore diving. Completion of commercial diver and preliminary mixed-gas diving training is required before being licensed in closed-bell saturation diving.
Physical fitness is an important part of commercial diving, especially saturation diving. Before embarking on a professional diving career, begin an extensive physical training regimen.