As a Diver, you will be involved in underwater inspection, testing, repair, maintenance or search work. You might specialise in particular techniques such as photography or welding. The work can be hard, demanding and sometimes dangerous.
Also known as
- Deep Sea Diver
- Salvage Diver
Video: - Jonathon: Chief Diving Instructor
As a Commercial Diver, you will carry out underwater inspection, testing, repair, maintenance or search work. This could be in inland waters, such as supporting fish farming, or at sea doing something such as supporting oil and gas industries. You might specialise in particular techniques, such as underwater photography or welding.
The work can be hard and dangerous at times. The type of diving work is determined by the nature of the task. For example, if you work for the police then you might be carrying out underwater searches for evidence or for missing people. Divers working for oil or gas companies carry out more practical tasks, such as maintaining structures underwater.
You'll learn to use a wide range of equipment such as hand tools, hydraulic and pneumatic power tools, and sometimes explosives.
Generally, there are three different types of diving. The type of diving depends on the depth of water and work being done.
This is used in water up to 50 metres. You will receive your air supply via a hose from above the water. This technique is used where any danger is present.
SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) diving
This is used in depths of less than 30 metres. You'll have air cylinders on your back, to breathe air from.
Deep sea diving
This is when the work takes place further than 50 metres down. It is known as saturation diving and you will live and work from a special chamber (called a closed bell), which has a mixture of gases so you can breathe normally. You may have to spend a few days in a decompression chamber after a deep dive to allow your body to adjust to normal air pressure.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Diver, you'll need:
- to be a strong swimmer
- to pay close attention to safety rules
- a high level of fitness
- to be able to stay calm when under pressure
- some scientific and mechanical skills, along with the ability to use a wide range of tools
- to work well in a team
- some skill in photography
- to be able to cope with distressing or dangerous work
There are some health conditions that could prevent you from becoming a Diver, or restrict the type of diving you can do. Go to the Health and Safety Executive website's diving section to see the full list (www.hse.gov.uk/diving/index.htm).
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £21,500 - £23,000
- With experience: £24,000 - £27,000
- Senior Divers earn £28,000 - £31,000
Hours of work
Offshore Divers usually work 12-hour shifts.
Where could I work?
Employment is mainly in short-contract work with firms of diving contractors.
Divers may also work as sports diving instructors, and with the police or in the armed forces.
Opportunities for divers occur with dive operators in coastal areas throughout the UK, particularly in the North Sea oil and gas industry.
Opportunities for divers also occur in countries overseas, particularly in leisure and sport diving.
Opportunities occur for divers to become self-employed.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised on all the major job boards, on Find a Job, and at Jobcentre Plus.
GreenJobs is a job board aimed at people interested in green careers:
Many divers approach companies directly offering their services.
Entry Routes and Training
To qualify as a professional Diver, you must obtain a training certificate from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
You do not need any formal qualifications to start diver training courses.
Training combines practical work and theory.
HSE approved training centres are found throughout the UK. For a full list, check out the HSE's website and go to the diving section.
Training courses usually cover air diving, mixed gas/saturation diving and professional scuba diving. They include offshore diving and inshore diving. Courses usually last between about four to thirteen weeks.
It is possible to take specialised courses in diving medicine and non-destructive testing, for example. The police and armed forces also train divers.
Divers can increase the amount of work available to them by undergoing training in areas such as the ones listed above.
Some Divers move into training positions.
Previous experience working in welding or photography would be really useful for this career.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
Working as a Diver in the police or Royal Navy is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to. This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.
Entry requirements vary according to the type of diving work undertaken. You do not need any formal qualifications to start training courses.
Candidates wishing to take Health and Safety Executive (HSE) diving examinations must first pass a Commercial Diving Aptitude test. Among other things, this tests maths and English, manual dexterity and water confidence. You also need to pass an HSE approved diving medical, which is then renewable every year.
Divers working on, for example, engineering or scientific projects may need specialist knowledge.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Commercial divers usually have experience and qualifications in another technical skill, such as welding or photography.
The upper age limit for Royal Navy divers is 32. Preference is given to those with previous diving experience; commercial or sub-aqua.
Adults considering training as divers must be in excellent physical condition, be able to pass a medical examination (renewable annually) and be confident working underwater.
Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST)
Address: Aldgate House, 33 Aldgate High Street, London EC3N 1EN
Tel: 020 7382 2600
Publisher: Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST)
International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA)
Address: 52 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1W 0AU
Tel: 020 7824 5520
Society for Underwater Technology (SUT)
Address: 1 Fetter Lane, London EC4A 1BR
Tel: 020 3440 5535
Tel: 01224 787830
Society for Underwater Technology (SUT) Aberdeen Branch
Address: Enterprise Centre, Exploration Drive, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen AB23 8GX
Tel: 01224 823637
Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
The Underwater Centre
Address: Marine Walk, Carmichael Way, Fort William PH33 6FF
Tel: 01397 703786
Jobs 4 Divers
Scottish Sub-Aqua Club
Address: Caledonia House, 1 Redheughs Rigg, South Gyle, Edinburgh EH12 9DQ
Tel: 0131 6254404
British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC)
Address: Telford's Quay, South Pier Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire CH65 4FL
Tel: 0151 3506200