Divers carry out a range of duties underwater using self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA), surface breathing apparatus or underwater work chambers.
To work as a diver you usually 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.
Divers may perform the following tasks:
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.
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. 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. 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.
An offshore construction diver assists with the construction and repair of pipelines and structures associated with the production of offshore oil and gas. They are also employed in routine inspections of these structures and use non-destructive testing. They are often tradespeople, such as boilermakers or welders.
An onshore construction diver works on a variety of projects, such as hull inspection and repairs, maintenance work and salvage operations. They may also construct, inspect and repair weirs, locks and dams.
A recreational dive instructor teaches at resorts and diving schools. Qualified divers supervise and assist recreational divers during lessons and on dives. They also work in diving equipment shops. Instructors start at divemaster level, assisting more experienced staff, and then progress to assistant and full instructor levels.
A saturation diver may descend to depths of 300 metres or more and work in underwater work chambers or diving bells. These are the most qualified divers and work usually involves scientific research or the maintenance of deep sea structures.
A scientific diver collects samples and carries out underwater analyses for scientific exploration and environmental assessments.
A seafood diver works in hatcheries and assists with the building and maintenance of boats, cages, nets and other equipment. They inspect, repair and clean housings, keep an eye on the health of fish, remove dead fish, repel or kill predators and report observations to the supervisor.