Dive straight in for a career under water

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As a diver you would work under water, either at sea or inland in rivers, lakes, canals and reservoirs.

The tasks carried out would depend on the industry you worked in and the type of diving you specialised in.

You would tend to specialise in one of four types of diving, which differ according to the depth of the dive and the breathing gear used. These are:

l scuba (self-contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) – using an air tank and flippers, mainly in recreational, media and police diving

l restricted surface supplied – using an air line to the surface, usually in inshore/inland diving

l surface supplied – using a hot water suit, air line and open diving bells, in offshore diving

l closed bell or saturation diving – using a diving bell and mixed gas for deep sea diving (often used in surveying, marine archaeology and scientific diving).

You could work as a diver in several industries, for example:

l offshore oil and gas, for exploration and surveying, or building and maintaining drilling rigs and pipelines

l civil engineering, for underwater repairs, demolition and salvage

l fish farming or shellfish diving

l the media, for stunts or underwater filming

l scientific research or underwater archaeology

l the police, searching for and recovering missing people or evidence

l leisure, as a sports diver leading recreational Scuba dives or teaching Scuba diving skills.

Many underwater tasks can now be carried out by remote-operated vehicles (ROVs), but ROVs have not replaced the need for skilled divers.

The amount of time divers are allowed to spend underwater is strictly controlled, but hours can be long and intensive. In some offshore jobs you may have to live for up to 28 days in an undersea pressure chamber.

Conditions underwater are often cold, dark and dirty, especially in inland sites. Diving is a hazardous activity, and you would wear protective clothing and breathing apparatus appropriate to the depth and type of dive.

Most divers are paid by the day, and work on average around 150-200 days a year.

Earnings can be anywhere between £120 and £1,000 a day, depending on the type of diving and work involved.

Before you begin professional diver training, you must pass a strict medical carried out by a doctor approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). You must also pass a medical each year throughout your diving career.

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

Many diving schools offer tests to help you decide whether you would be suited to working underwater.

You do not need academic qualifications to learn diving skills. However, to work as a commercial diver you will need the right skills and qualifications for your industry, as well as learning how to dive.

See the HSE website for more details about qualifications and approved training providers in the UK.