Underwater career can be a tough job physically and emotionally and always face with specific physical, safety and life risks, but for those who like a challenge, it can be an exciting and very rewarding career as gold port job, thrilling, world travelling opportunities and unconventional. For anyone to be part of underwater career world, need a legal qualification that allows you to do so. Depending on the country, these qualifications can be obtained from an authorized diving training school. However, it is necessary that such a school has been certified by an internationally recognized certifying agency.
Approximately 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by the oceans, and career opportunities abound in this environment where fresh challenges arise all the time.
With expansion in the oil and gas sector and new developments in offshore wind farms, might be not surprised to discover that there are many fulfilling demanding career opportunities in the marine and sub-sea world.
How to be a Diver.
1. Recreational diving or sport diving is a type of diving that use SCUBA equipment for the purpose of leisure and enjoyment and easy to learn as a life-long, healthy activity suitable for the entire family. For those who have never tried scuba but interested in nature and the outdoors, with an adventurous spirit and a beyond-the-next horizon perspective on life, the first step toward becoming a diver is to enlist in a certification course start from very beginning entry – snorkelling, Discover Scuba Diving, Scuba Diver, then proceed to Open Water Diver, Adventure Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, and Emergency First Responder.
Some of the larger and international better known training agencies are: PADI (the Professional Association of Diving Instructors), BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club), and SSI (Scuba Schools International). Their training centre are scattered all around the world near to you.
2. Being a Professional Diver can be a very fun and lucrative profession. Many professional divers work in resorts, with the military or law enforcement, inshore, offshore, and with research groups around the globe. There is no doubt diving for a living is one of most amazing professions out there. To be as professional Diver, you need to have any one of specialization certificate offered by PADI, SSI or BSAC authorised training centre to choose from; DiveMaster, Assistant Instructor Diver, Instructor Diver, Underwater Photographer/ Videographer, Enriched Air Nitrox Diver, Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV) or Scooter, Deep Diver, Wreck Diver, Peak Perform Buoyancy, AWARE Fish Identification, Underwater Naturalist, Underwater Navigator, Night Diver, Multi Level Diver, Search & Recovery Diver, and Equipment Specialist Diver.
3. Commercial or Occupational Divers are employed to perform tasks related to industries involving underwater work required an extremely skilled professional who works in dangerous circumstances, not everyone can live up to the standards that it requires, to handle a broader range of underwater tasks.
The primary distinction between commercial and recreational diving is that the recreational diver is responsible primarily for his/her own actions and safety but may voluntarily accept limited responsibility for dive buddies, whereas the commercial diver is part of a team of people with extensive responsibilities and obligations to each other and usually to an employer or client, and these responsibilities and obligations are formally defined in legislation, regulations, operations manuals, standing orders and compulsory or voluntary codes of practice. In many cases a statutory national occupational health and safety legislation constrains their activities. Commercial Diving Certificate is a licensed for Diver to work underwater.
Commercial divers generally must be certified in the country where they are employed. For example, divers employed in US would require certification from ACDI certifications, divers employed in Canada would require certification from the Diver Certification Board of Canada (DCBC); those employed in Australia would fall under the jurisdiction of the Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS); and those in the UK require certification by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).; and International Marine Contractor Association (IMCA) commercial diver certification is now recognized throughout most of the rest of the world and it a must if dealing with offshore diving matters beside BOSIET (Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training) Certificate, accredited by OPITO for an internationally recognition.
4. As Specialized Commercial Diver. Some commercial divers specialize in certain areas, such as underwater welding, welding inspector, Chamber Operation or hazardous material diving. Underwater welding and commercial diving are two different things. You go to commercial dive school to become a commercial diver, not a welder yet. An underwater welder concentrates solely on performing underwater welding. It is a specialized position that involves only welding tasks, as well as the preparation and follow-up.
As Recreational/ Sport Diver – you need to pay to dive but as Commercial Diver, you will be paid to dive.
What kinds of work does a commercial diver do?
Commercial diving work usually involves manual labor, but your work site is underwater. As an inshore diver, you would mainly be involved with civil engineering projects (e.g. bridges and tunnels) and offshore diving work is mainly for the oil and gas industry, although fish farms and even the film industry employ divers too. The renewable energy sector and offshore wind farms have also created lots of diving work.
As a diver, your work could involve underwater welding, video inspections and photography, pipeline repairs and bolting, pouring concrete underwater, inspecting vessels and underwater structures for corrosion or using lifting bags to move objects underwater. A lot of salvage work takes place too. Recently the Costa Concordia salvage employed a large team of divers, as did the recovery of casualties from the ferry that sank in South Korea in 2014. Divers may be expected to be involved in the recovery of aircraft too as well as ships.
What skills do I need to be a commercial diver?
You’ll need the ability to problem solve and work as a team, a professional attitude, good awareness of safety and reliability. A bit of a sense of adventure helps too. If you enjoy working with your hands or tinkering with things like bikes and cars then diving could suit you. Some jobs are specialised, but most involve working with tools just as you would on mechanical or construction jobs on land.
How do I get started?
To become a commercial diver you must attend a commercial diver training school. A leisure diving qualification isn’t suitable for 99% of the work that’s done underwater. It can cost about USD 27,000 for the standard training package lasts about 12 weeks will qualify you to work onshore and offshore as a commercial diver and will provide you with the basics of what is required to start your new sub-sea career.
The certificates you will obtain when you complete the Standard Package are:
– ADAS Part 1 Occupational SCUBA Diver to 30m
– ADAS Part 2 Occupational Diver to 30m
– ADAS Part 3 Occupational Diver to 50m
– ADAS Endorsed Chamber Operator Certification
In order to be able to attend our Standard Package you will require the following:
- Current recognised certificate of recreational diving card (e.g. PADI, SSI, or NAUI) (e.g. an open water sports diver qualification from a recognised SCUBA training organisation) or a certificate as a military diver and demonstrate logged evidence of at least 10 dives undertaken since receiving certification and within 6 months of commencing the ADAS training course;
- Current recognised Senior or Apply First Aid certificate (First Aid qualifications must meet the competency requirements of HLTFA402C Apply first aid).
- Current recognised Oxygen Provision certificate (must meet the competency requirements of national code PUAEME003C Administer oxygen in an emergency situation).
- Obtain a commercial diving medical – AS2299 or HSE. Must be in date and cover the full duration of the course. The certificate is to have been issued within 90 days of the commencement of the training.
- Be a competent swimmer – Competence should be demonstrated by the trainee completing a 200m swim on the surface using mask, fins and snorkel while wearing SCUBA equipment and neutrally buoyant within eight minutes and by the trainee treading water for ten (10) minutes.
- Be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers, decimals and vulgar fractions. Be able to calculate percentages, and solve simple formulas, i.e. gas laws.
- Be a minimum of 18 years of age.
- English Language – It is a requirement that all students attending an ADAS course must have the ability to read and understand written and verbal communications in the English language and make themselves understood using English. To prove your ability ADAS requires all students from non-English speaking countries to undertake Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) testing and certification prior to commencing a course; visit the LLN website to register and for more details.
Although you are not required to have the more advanced certification, Apply Advanced First Aid – HLTFA402B, however, if you do, it will cover all of the ADAS requirements for First Aid and Oxygen provision.
Diving courses involve both theoretical and practical training but mostly practical as this is what will really prepare you to become a successful diver. During the training, you will learn the principles of diving physics, decompression theory and diving related illnesses including how to avoid them and manage them in the rare event something goes wrong. Also about the equipment and the tools you’ll use underwater too.
Once you’re qualified and have a certain number of working dives in your logbook, you can then train to become a saturation diver. This technique allows you to dive deeper, using helium and oxygen breathing gas mixtures. As a saturation diver, you would be expected to live under pressure in a decompression chamber for up to 28 days on a job.
What other skills do I need?
If you want to become an inspection diver, for example, you might need to learn photography and understand faults found in metal such as corrosion and weld faults. For other roles, concrete inspection, underwater welding and cutting skills are often required too. Because divers can work very remotely and live in chambers where it takes days to decompress back to the surface, they may have to learn some medical skills including setting up I.V. fluids and taking care of a casualty who has been injured on the seabed. As with any offshore work you will need an offshore survival qualification and depending on the job, the company you work for might require you to do extra safety training.
What are the best parts of the job?
The satisfaction of having done a good days work in an environment that most people never get a chance to experience and working together as part of a team. Diving can take you anywhere in the world and travel is likely to be a big part of your career. Diving also pays pretty well especially if you work offshore in the oil and gas industry or in deeper saturation diving.
What are the challenges?
It’s not a 9-5 job with weekends off, so you may be expected to be away from home for weeks at a time. Sometimes there may be times when you are out of work longer than you’d like to be, for example when the winter comes in the UK there aren’t as many diving projects taking place due to the weather, although many divers work in other parts of the world too. 12 hour shifts when the weather is miserable in the winter isn’t as much fun as working during a long hot summer!
What’s the most exciting or unusual job you’ve worked on in your career?
Most jobs are pretty exciting in their own way. One of the first jobs I supervised many years ago involved measuring the amount of energy that tidal flow can produce. The device sank so we had to salvage it. It was right in the experimental stages of renewable energy too and it was fun to be involved in those early days. I also helped plan a job using an experimental lifting device underwater. There’s something exciting about trialling new things for the first time. I’m due to be involved with some training for the Russian Navy soon so that’ll be a new experience. I’ve also assisted the police on a couple of projects, which is quite different to regular commercial diving. I was recently involved in a film shoot for a television advert which was a lot of fun!
Any advice for people starting out?
If you want to be a commercial diver then get involved in work that gets you using tools and working with your hands, like at a local garage, a building site, or farm. Keep studying in school too as most diving related courses involve theoretical training including physics and anatomy.
When it comes to looking for work, you’ll not see diving jobs in the local press or job centre. Most work is found through networking and it’s often whom you know along with your experience that gets you work, although some jobs are advertised online. There’ll be some chasing around to begin with, but once their foot’s in the door then most divers will find the work, especially if they’re willing to travel.