How to Become a Commercial Diver (With Steps and FAQs)
Updated 22 May 2023
Commercial divers perform a range of underwater duties, including maintenance, repair and scientific research. There are many commercial diver specialisations available. Learning how to become a commercial diver may help you decide whether this role aligns with your personal interests and career goals. In this article, we examine what a commercial diver is, outline how to become a commercial diver, discuss the various types of divers and answer several frequently asked questions.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
What is a commercial diver?
Although commercial divers work for various employers with different goals, they share the duty of exploring underwater areas in oceans, seas and lakes. A few examples of their duties include examining the condition of a bridge or a ship's hull, cleaning a propeller, fixing sewer pipes and photographing marine animals.
Commercial divers often specialise in a certain area of diving, focusing on aspects such as scientific exploration, wildlife, ecology and media. The specialisation you want to follow can influence the process of how you become a commercial diver, as you may need different training to perform the role's unique tasks.
How to become a commercial diver
Consider the following six steps if you would like to learn how to become a commercial diver, and you believe you have the necessary skills to work in this profession:
1. Know what type of diver you want to be
Divers use their swimming skills to do a variety of tasks underwater, including collecting seafood, salvaging, researching and building. They may use hand tools, explosives, hydraulic and pneumatic power tools, cameras and other scientific research tools, depending on their work. You decide what type of diver you want to be. You may want to work in salvage, on a fish farm or as an underwater welder. Be aware of your long-term objectives because each type of diver involves different learning experiences.
2. Choose the course that meets your needs
Completing a diving course at an approved training establishment with the Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS) certification is the traditional route to obtaining commercial qualifications in the diving industry. Formal education isn't required to operate as a diver, but in some states, such as Western Australia, you may need a certificate that satisfies the country's standard AS 2815. Additionally, it's mandatory to have a current first aid certificate and a medical fitness certification from a qualified physician who specialises in undersea medicine.
Related: How to Choose the Right Career Path
3. Choose a training agency and relevant certification
Your next step is to find a training agency that matches your goals. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), for example, is acknowledged in over 165 countries, meaning it's a globally recognised organisation that might interest numerous employers.
Choose a training agency that offers programs that align with your specialisation, the program's duration, the price of the course, the number of dives required to finish the program, training methods and accessibility to classes in your area. You might also consider things like how much experience the instructors have and the program's job placement record.
4. Meet the prerequisites for a course
Before entering a course, familiarise yourself with the prerequisites. Courses typically accept people over the age of 18. Pre-requisites of age-appropriate candidates include a recreational dive certificate for Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS) and International Marine Contractors Association courses so that you can show you have reasonable diving skills before the course.
You may also require at least 10 dives logged and a recreational diver certificate. Another prerequisite is a medical certificate proving your fitness to dive and a first aid and advanced resuscitation certificate. As the job involves working in water, you require the ability to swim 200 metres without help and tread water for 10 minutes to qualify for ADAS. At the end of the course, you receive a certification card and a licence to engage in paid diving activities in your area of choice.
5. Complete scuba training
Employers typically seek candidates with commercial scuba training to complete commercial diving tasks safely. For example, a requirement may be an ADAS Occupational Scuba to 30m (ADAS part one) certification. You can then proceed to an ADAS SSBA to 30m (ADAS part two) diver qualification. Expert scuba diving instruction may be all you need to work in research, aquariums and zoos.
6. Look for a job
To be eligible for a commercial diving position, hiring managers require a minimum set of qualifications and certifications. These include Commercial Dive Medical, Diving Certificates: VET Rescue Statement of Attainment, Dive Master (or higher), or ADAS Commercial Diver, First Aid Certificate, CPR Certificate and the knowledge to apply advanced resuscitation. Next, submit a resume that includes details of your experience, technical skills, specialisation and how many logged diving hours you have.
5 types of commercial divers
Before you commit to this profession, explore the following five types of commercial divers:
1. Scientific diver
Research is likely the main objective of a scientific diver. These divers are typically scientists with diving expertise. They use diving to finalise their fieldwork. Some of their tasks may include collecting creatures and biological samples, watching animal behaviour, completing quantitative surveys, performing ecological analyses, assessing techniques, mapping underwater areas, profiling geology and deploying and retrieving underwater equipment.
2. Aquaculture diver
An aquaculture diver supports the production of farmed marine species such as salmon or tuna. Their responsibilities include ensuring the integrity of the nets and the well-being of the aquatic organisms. They also monitor the stock for disease, death or unusual behaviour and ensure nets aren't damaged.
3. Onshore construction diver
An onshore construction diver works inland up to maximum depths of around 50 metres. Their usual workload is on land including on those of rivers, lakes and swamps. Their role includes construction activities, such as assembling, demolishing, installing, cleaning, repairing, photographing, maintaining or salvaging.
4. Offshore diver
An offshore diver typically supports the oil and gas industry's exploration and production sector. They typically work from offshore boats. Their role includes inspecting and repairing oil rigs and sub-sea pipelines, monitoring and managing construction and inspecting and maintaining all the job's requirements and duties.
5. Deep ocean diver
A deep ocean diver works underwater at depths that typically range between 18 and 40 metres. Some technical divers may dive 50 to 105 metres. A deep ocean dive usually calls for specialised equipment such as a buoyancy control device and is typically accompanied by training and the use of a closed bell or saturation system.
Frequently asked questions and answers
To help you decide whether this job suits you, consider the following frequently asked questions and answers:
What are some skills that I may need?
Some hard skills include knowing how to use diving equipment, such as masks, diving suits, helmets, scuba gear, air tanks and gauges. Other skills include your ability to handle still and video cameras and proficiency in using hand and power tools and welding equipment. Some soft skills include excellent organisational abilities, attention to detail and good communication skills.
What level of diver training do I need?
The route to earning your commercial diver certification gets a lot simpler once you've determined your diving objectives and chosen the lifestyle and profession you want. This is because there are distinct eligibility standards for each diving career. Most commercial diving training centres across the world concentrate on at least one of two different styles of diving. Currently, only two diving academies offer the third level (Closed Bell). They're the Commercial Dive Academy in Tasmania and the National Institute of Professional Diving in France.
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