September 02, 2020

Commercial divers

Commercial and offshore diving is a physically and psychologically demanding career that can be dangerous if adequate training and safety measures are not adhered to. Divers need to remain calm under pressure and operate in a number of challenging environments where visibility and communication may be difficult. It does, however, offer many career pathways with an opportunity to work internationally.

Commercial divers working within the oil and gas sector are typically qualified as saturation divers. Unlike commercial divers who work at shallower depths, the saturation diver descends to depths ranging from 100m to 500m to work on the seabed. In order to accomplish this safely, the diver will first spend time in a pressurised chamber on board the ship in order to gradually become accustomed to the pressure that they will face underwater. Divers are then transferred directly into a diving bell which is lowered to allow access to the required working depth. The divers remain in a pressurised enclosed environment for the duration of their work time which can be as long as three weeks.

A diving team on board a Dive Support Vessel (DSV) can typically consist of the following members:

·        Diving superintendent

·        Bell diving supervisor

·        Air diving supervisor

·        Bell (saturation) diver

·        Air (surface) diver

·        Life support supervisor

·        Life support technician

·        Tender

·        Senior dive technician

·        Dive technician.

·        Diver medic

Key tasks:

·        Communicate with workers on the rig while underwater.

·        Inspect underwater structures.

·        Monitor and control temperature and pressure of the drill.

·        Document (video or photograph) subsea structures.

·        Cut and weld using underwater welding equipment.

·        Undertake other maintenance work as required.

·        Assist with decommissioning of wells.

Entry requirements/training:

The basic requirement for becoming a commercial diver includes the need for a high school diploma. Commercial divers need to be at least 18 years old. Offshore divers must undergo rigorous training as well as medical testing that far exceeds the training associated with leisure SCUBA diving activities. Training needs to be undertaken at internationally accredited service providers that can issue internationally recognized certificates. Divers will also need to undergo regular medical testing to ensure that they are fit enough to work at the required depths. (See more information under Training and Education)

Career advancement:

There is no specific career advancement prospect for commercial divers, but commercial divers, but those with experience in a number of environments and at specific depths that are able to perform inspections, surveys and welding will find specialized opportunities internationally.

Associated job opportunities:
Commercial divers with the skills to undertake skilled work under- water are sought-after in a number of other maritime sectors including ship repair (underwater repairs and inspections), salvage (underwater surveys) and marine civils (underwater inspections).