Job Description:

Divers work underwater at sea, or in rivers, lakes, canals and reservoirs.

Job Category:
Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing

What you will do:

You could work as a diver in industries like:

  • offshore oil and gas – exploring and surveying, or building and maintaining drilling rigs and pipelines
  • inland/inshore – working on civil engineering projects carrying out underwater repairs, demolition or salvage, or working in fish farming
  • the media – performing stunts or doing underwater filming
    scientific research or underwater archaeology
  • the police – searching for and recovering missing persons or evidence
  • leisure – leading recreational SCUBA dives or teaching SCUBA diving skills

You’ll specialise in one type of diving:

  • SCUBA (Self-contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) – using an air tank and flippers, mainly in recreational, media and police diving
  • Restricted Surface Supplied – using an air line to the surface, usually in inshore/inland diving
  • Surface Supplied – using a hot water suit, air line and open diving bells, in offshore diving
  • 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)

The amount of time spent underwater is strictly controlled, but hours can still be long and intensive.



You’ll need:

  • knowledge of building and construction
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • persistence and determination (drive)
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptablility)
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • excellent verbal communication skills

Restrictions and Requirements
You’ll need to pass a medical check

Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a professional diver, you don’t necessarily need specific subjects, but you should focus on developing certain skills and gaining relevant experience. Diving involves a combination of physical abilities, knowledge, and certifications. Here are some considerations:

  1. Physical Fitness: Diving requires good physical health and fitness. Engaging in regular exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important.
    Swimming: Strong swimming skills are fundamental for divers. Consider taking swimming lessons and improving your swimming abilities.
  2. Mathematics (Maths): Basic math skills are useful for calculating dive plans, dive tables, and gas consumption.
  3. Physics: Understanding principles of physics, particularly as they relate to buoyancy and pressure, can be valuable for diving.

Post School

You must pass a medical before you begin professional diver training. In the UK this needs to be carried out by a doctor approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

You might find it useful to have experience of recreational SCUBA diving before training as a commercial diver, but this isn’t essential. Many diving schools offer tests to help you decide whether you’d be suited to working underwater.

You don’t need academic qualifications to learn diving skills, but to work as a commercial diver you’ll need the right skills, experience and qualifications for your industry, like:

  • a degree in surveying or engineering for offshore diving
  • qualifications in welding or non-destructive testing for construction diving
  • a degree in oceanography or marine biology for scientific diving
  • to already be serving in the force for police or armed forces diving

Working Hours and Environment:

The amount of time spent underwater is strictly controlled, but hours can still be long and intensive.

Not all time is spent underwater; time is also spent planning for dives and preparing equipment. Inshore divers 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.

Diving is physically and mentally demanding. Conditions underwater are often cold, dark and dirty, especially in inland sites.

You’ll wear protective clothing and breathing apparatus appropriate to the depth and type of dive.

Career Path & Progression:

You’d normally be self-employed as a commercial diver.

With experience and further training, you could move into roles with extra responsibility and more pay, like life support technician or diving supervisor.

If working in a dive centre you could move into a management role.

You could also set up a business, or work in a related field where diving skills are necessary, like swimming pool engineering or maintenance.