Diver - specialist

Engineering
Produce

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

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This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would work underwater in the sea, rivers and lakes. 

Diving is a physically demanding activity and can be dangerous. You’d need to follow strict health and safety procedures and respond calmly if things go wrong.

You would work at sea or inland in rivers, lakes, canals and reservoirs. Many underwater tasks can now be carried out by remote-operated vehicles (ROVs) but ROVs have not replaced the need for skilled divers.

You could work in a variety of industries.

  • In the offshore oil and gas industry you would do underwater exploration and surveying. You’d build and repair drilling rigs and pipeline
  • In inland or inshore diving you could work on civil engineering projects. You’d do underwater repairs, demolition or salvage

You would specialise in one of four types of diving:

  • SCUBA (Self-contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) where you’d use an air tank and flippers. This is used in recreational, media and police diving.
  • Restricted Surface Supplied, using an air line to the surface. This is usually used in inshore/inland diving.
  • Surface Supplied where you’d use a hot water suit, air line and open diving bells. This is for offshore diving.
  • Closed Bell or Saturation Diving using a diving bell and mixed gas for deep sea diving. This is often used in surveying, marine archaeology and scientific diving

Working conditions

Hours

The amount of time divers are allowed to spend underwater is strictly controlled, but hours can still be long and intensive. As an inshore diver, you would work around 10 to 12 hours a day. In some offshore jobs you may have to live for up to 28 days in an undersea pressure chamber.

Environment

Not all your time is spent underwater, as you will also spend time planning for the dive and preparing equipment. Diving is physically and mentally demanding. Conditions underwater are often cold, dark and dirty, especially in inland sites. You would wear protective clothing and breathing apparatus appropriate to the depth and type of dive.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Working as part of a team
  • Following instructions
  • Working with your hands
  • Being physically fit
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

Though there are no set qualifications for entry to this career you must gain a qualification recognised by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). 

To work as a commercial diver you will need the right skills and qualifications for your industry, as well as learning how to dive.

Many commercial divers gain academic or technical qualifications relevant to their chosen industry first:

  • Some offshore divers might need a degree in surveying or engineering.
  • Construction divers might need qualifications in welding or non-destructive testing
  • Most scientific divers have a degree in oceanography or marine biology.

Emergency services or armed forces divers must already be serving in the force.

You might find it useful to have experience of recreational SCUBA diving before training as a commercial diver, but this is not essential.

Useful subjects

  • Physical education
  • Science, in particular human biology

You will also need

Physical fitness and satisfactory swimming capabilities.

Before commencing any training, you need to pass a thorough medical examination by an Approved Medical Examiner of Divers (AMED). The certificate has to be renewed annually and includes a fitness test.

There is an upper age limit of 32 years for diving in the Royal Navy. 

To work offshore in the oil industry you must pass an offshore survival course such as the Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training Certificate (BOSIET).