Life of a Harbor School Diver

NYHS Professional Diving is the only program of its kind in the United States, training high school students as effective scuba divers and putting them to work underwater on real environmental restoration projects like the Billion Oyster Project. The Professional Diving program prepares students for work in the commercial and recreational diving industries, as well as providing a scientific diving foundation for students hoping to pursue marine science studies in college.

Sophomore Year: Students are certified as entry-level Open Water Divers and improve their skills and knowledge as Advanced Open Water Divers. Over the winter students learn terrestrial rescue skills including CPR and first aid, emergency oxygen treatment, neurological assessments, and care for hazardous marine life injuries. In the spring they study study and practice for their Rescue Diver certification, in which they learn to prevent problems before they occur and aid and assist in the event of an emergency.

Junior Year: Dive students work towards certification as NYHS Scientific Divers. NYHS is the only public high school in the country to offer this college-level certification, which enjoys full reciprocity at major universities and research stations. During scientific diver studies, students learn about diving physics and physiology, decompression theory and procedures, and how to assemble and supervise a safe and effective research diving team. Students learn to use photography and video equipment, dry suits, full face masks, underwater communications, harnesses and tethers, all of which are put to use as we assist the other five Harbor School CTE programs in installing and monitoring BOP oyster restoration sites in the challenging, low-viz, strong current, cold water conditions of New York Harbor.

Senior Year: Divers learn the basics of commercial diving, including search and recovery, surface supply air, piling/dock assessment and repair, non-destructive testing (NDT), and dive tendering. Seniors also learn the basics of equipment maintenance and repair.  During the spring, some students purse their Divemaster certification, allowing them to work in the recreational dive industry immediately upon graduation. Others begin work as interns in the professional diving industry, including cleaning tanks and educating the public at the New York Aquarium, and organizing and supervising Billion Oyster Project dives.

Requirements: Dive Students are required to spend multiple weekend days and after school hours training at the pool and in open water. Students are expected to prove themselves as safe divers and valuable members of the dive team. To be accepted into the program, students must pass a swim/tread test and have been medically cleared by a physician for diving.

Industry Skills:

  • PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Open Water Diver
  • PADI Advanced Open Water Diver
  • DAN (Divers Alert Network) Diving First Aid for the Professional Diver (CPR/AED/Emergency O2/Neuro/First Aid)
  • PADI Rescue Diver
  • PADI Full Face Mask Diver/Dry Suit Diver/Enriched Air Diver
  • AAUS (American Academy of Underwater Sciences) Scientific Diver
  • FDNY Air Compressor Operators License (if 18)
  • PADI Divemaster (if 18 and qualified)

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    “Say Cheese” This is a group picture of the sophomore class with a senior, and their teachers in the Bahamas.