How to become a Diver

Divers carry out a range of duties underwater using self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA), surface breathing apparatus or underwater work chambers. With experience, and sometimes further training, divers may become a ship's diver or dive supervisor.

Personal requirements of a Diver

  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Able to pass a strict medical examination
  • Responsible and safety-conscious
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Able to solve mathematical problems

Education & Training for a Diver

There is little prospect of an untrained person finding employment as a trainee commercial diver. Companies expect potential employees to have some diving experience and a relevant qualification. To work as a diver you need to attain certification as a commercial diver, although in some areas (such as abalone diving and reef fish collecting), a recreational scuba qualification such as those issued by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) may be sufficient. The required qualifications vary depending on the specialist area you wish to enter. Commercial diving qualifications are available through short courses, which are provided by training establishments accredited by the Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS). These courses can provide the foundation for progressing to higher academic courses within Australia. Costs, duration and entry requirements vary. Contact ADAS for more information. ADAS recognises four levels depending on the amount of experience and courses completed: • Level 1 - Occupational SCUBA (onshore to 30m) • Level 2 - Surface Supply Breathing Apparatus (onshore to 30m) • Level 3 - Surface Supply Breathing Apparatus (offshore to 50m) • Level 4 - Saturation/Closed Bell (offshore to open limit). To apply for a commercial diving licence, you must be at least 18 years of age, hold a certificate of recreational diving competence and be able to swim competently. You must also hold a Provide First Aid certificate and be highly skilled in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or oxygen administration. Applicants must also have a certificate of medical fitness, issued by a doctor trained and experienced in underwater medicine.

Duties & Tasks of a Diver

Divers:

  • inspect diving equipment before diving
  • build, check and repair underwater constructions such as harbour wall foundations, ship hulls, jetties, piers and pipelines, sometimes using cutting or welding equipment
  • use cables, floatation gear or ropes to bring underwater objects to the surface
  • carry out underwater exploration
  • carry out underwater search and rescue operations to recover bodies, stolen goods and other property (police divers)
  • build and look after fish farms
  • supervise and teach others to dive
  • operate cameras for underwater filming (such as for nature documentaries)
  • place recording instruments underwater
  • operate decompression and recompression chambers.

Working conditions for a Diver

Professional diving is both physically and mentally demanding, with a lot of time spent working underwater. It is a potentially hazardous occupation, so divers must work under strict safety standards.

Employment Opportunities for a Diver

Commercial divers are employed on contracts and work both interstate and overseas. Most find work as onshore construction divers or with the offshore oil and gas industry, state or territory fisheries departments, water authorities, fish farms or civil engineering firms. Employers of construction divers prefer applicants with a metals and engineering trade background (such as fitting, plumbing, welding, rigging, fitting explosives, electronics and motor mechanics). Although a trade is not essential, divers are expected to be proficient both manually and with tools. In the recreational diving field, opportunities are limited to people holding an instructor or divemaster qualification. Recreational diving instructors in metropolitan centres are busy during summer and may work interstate or overseas during other seasons. Most work outside of the busiest times is on a part-time or casual basis. Seafood-related work is also often seasonal. Demand for recreational divers in Australia is largely affected by tourism activity, particularly the number of people seeking diving instruction. Demand for offshore construction divers is strongly linked to the level of offshore oil and gas exploration. After retiring from active diving, divers often move to other positions in the industry, such as supervising, dive shop work or operating decompression and recompression chambers.

Avg. weekly wage:

$1,135

Future growth:

Very strong

Employment by state:

ACT ACT 1.5%

NSW NSW 26%

NT NT 1.5%

QLD QLD 25.7%

SA SA 4.8%

TAS TAS 3.1%

VIC VIC 24.7%

WA WA 12.9%

Hours worked:

37.4

Unemployment:

Lower unemployment

Gender split:

Male 53.3%

Female 46.7%

Education level:

Not completed Year 12: 22.5%

Highest qualification is secondary school: 41.7%

Highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 24.5%

Highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 11.3%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 2.4%

20-24 - 9.6%

25-34 - 19.7%

35-44 - 23.9%

45-54 - 28.6%

55-59 - 6.5%

60-64 - 4%

65 and Over - 5.3%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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