The rising popularity of diving as a leisure activity and scuba diving as an occupation has led to a rise in certified divers over the last few years. If you enjoy spending time underwater, consider becoming a professional diver.
Divers swim underwater to perform a range of activities underwater, such as seafood gathering, salvage, research, and construction. They may use hand tools, explosives, hydraulic and pneumatic power tools, cameras, and other scientific research equipment based on their training.
Formal qualifications are optional to work as a Diver; however, in some states like Western Australia, you may need a certificate of occupational diving competency from the Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme that complies with the Australian Standard AS 2815.
Furthermore, you must have a valid First Aid Certificate and a medical fitness certificate from an experienced doctor in underwater medicine.
This blog discusses what commercial divers do, their qualifications, how much salary scuba divers earn, their job opportunities, and the learning pathway to pursue a career in diving in Australia.
1. What Are Divers?
Commercial divers work below the water surface to examine, repair, install, and remove structures or equipment, including boats and other marine vessels.
They use self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA), surface-supplied breathing apparatus, power, and hand tools such as welding equipment, drills, and torches to perform the job.
Divers work in scientific research, onshore or offshore construction, police search and rescue, military maintenance and repair, and harvesting at aquaculture facilities.
Divers can specialize in welding or underwater photography. With experience and further training, they may become a dive supervisor or ship diver.
2. What Does A Diver Do?
Though the exact duties of a Commercial diver in Australia depend on the type of diver you are, the typical responsibilities include the following:
Check diving equipment before diving.
Place recording instruments underwater
Perform underwater find and rescue tasks to recover stolen goods, bodies, and other property
Control equipment at the surface for other divers
Carry out tests for pipe leaks
Examine docks and sewers, ships, and salvage wrecked ships.
Conduct rock drilling
Perform mechanical, repair, construction, and inspection tasks using hand tools and hydraulic, air-powered, cutting, and welding equipment.
Perform underwater duties such as surveys, blasting, searches, and collection of exploratory or scientific samples
Operate underwater equipment, including sonar gear, video, and a television camera.
Use cables, ropes, and floatation gear to bring underwater objects to the surface
Develop, check and repair underwater structures such as jetties, piers, ship hulls, harbour wall foundations, and pipelines
Supervise and teach others to dive
Operate decompression and recompression chambers.
Report any medical issues experienced during or after the dive.
Check the operation of personal diving equipment and ensure it is working state for the planned dive.
3. Required Diver Skills
You need to have the following skills to work and succeed as a diver:
Physically fit and healthy to pass a strict medical test
Able to solve mathematical problems
Able to handle the physical demands of the job
4. What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Commercial Diver?
While diving is an enjoyable yet intense sport, you must still meet a few requirements to become a Commercial Diver.
Divers must be 18 years old to apply for a commercial diver's licence.
You must hold a certificate of recreational diving competence.
You should be able to swim competently.
You should be in good health and have a medical fitness certificate issued by a medical professional trained and experienced in underwater medicine. It confirms that you don't have pre-existing medical conditions that might prevent them from diving.
You must hold a Provide First Aid certificate.
You should have basic water skills and handle yourself comfortably in the water.
You should be skilled in cardiopulmonary resuscitation or oxygen administration.
You must pass a physical diving test and obtain a certification card. Completing training courses in Hazardous materials and welding can improve your job prospects.
Most companies expect divers to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, a commercial diving certification course, and diving experience. Consider completing commercial diving qualifications accredited by the Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS).
ADAS recognizes four levels based on the level of experience and the number of 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).
5. Steps To Become A Certified Diver In Australia
The type of diver you want to be will affect the pathway to becoming a commercial diver.
There are four key steps you need to follow to become commercially certified:
Step 1: Decide The Type Of Diver You Want To Become
You may want to be an underwater welder, work on a fish farm, or work in salvage. As each kind of diver's learning route can differ, it is essential to know your long-term goals.
Step 2: Choose The Training Agency
Having decided on the type of diver you wish to become, the next step is to find a training agency that matches your experience and diving goals. Different agencies have different requirements for various diving training programs.
PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, is the largest and the most widespread training agency globally recognized in over 165 nations.
Being a leader in dive training, the agency has been training scuba divers since 1966. However, you can also choose from other diver certification agencies that offer top-class dive education:
When choosing a driving agency, compare them based on the type of training programs each agency provides, training program cost, and the availability of classes in your location. Go for one that suits your schedule and budget.
Also, some agencies offer multiple certification levels, so you can pick one that aligns with your experience and diving goals.
Step 3: Choose A Relevant Certification
Once you have selected a training agency, the next step is to identify the best certification course based on the:
Course costs (that vary from state to state)
Number of dives needed to complete the course
Its demand in your area
The PADI Open Water Diver Certification is Australia's most popular diving course. You can also consider completing a diving course certified by Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS) at an Accredited Training Establishment (ATE).
Other popular diving certifications include - ADCI, IMCA, INPP, DCBD, HSE, etc. However, not all are the same.
Specific certificates are not internationally recognized and only eligible in their local regions. Choose a globally recognized certification that enables you to work anywhere.
Step 4: Meet The Pre-Requisites Of The Course
Each course has different requirements to engage in the training. You must learn about them and accomplish them before you begin the procedure.
Once you complete the training, you will obtain a certification card and the licence to carry out paid diving activities in your area.
6. Employment Opportunities For A Diver In Australia
Commercial divers work on both interstate and overseas contracts on a part-time or casual basis.
They may work on onshore construction sites or with the state or territory fisheries departments, offshore oil and gas industry, fish farms, water authorities, or civil engineering companies.
Tourism activity impacts the demand for recreational divers in Australia, especially the number of people who seek diving instruction. The offshore gas and oil exploration level determines the need for offshore construction divers.
After retiring from diving, commercial divers often pursue other roles in the industry, such as supervising, operating decompression and recompression chambers, dive shop work, etc.
7. Commercial Diver Specializations In Australia
With experience and further training, divers may pursue any of the following specialized roles:
Clearance Diver (Navy)
Hyperbaric Welder Diver
Onshore Construction Diver
Offshore Construction Diver
Recreational Dive Instructor
8. Available Jobs For Divers In Australia
According to SEEK, the most common advertised job positions for a diver are as follows:
Commercial Aquaculture Diver Full-timeme / Casual
Commercial ADAS Diver - Full-time
Marine Piling Supervisor
ADAS Part 2 & 3 Divers
Diving and Hyperbaric Technician
Dive and Hyperbaric Contract Manager
9. Working Conditions For A Diver
Professional diving is both physically and mentally demanding that requires spending plenty of time below the surface of the water.
They may work in various underwater environments, including offshore oil rigs, natural rivers, oceans, artificial waterways, sewage tanks, harbours, and freshwater or saltwater lakes.
As divers work in potentially hazardous conditions, they must adhere to strict safety standards and procedures. They may require wearing equipment in low visibility underwater.
Their work hours differ based on their position and projects. Those working on an oil rig job may require staying away from home for long periods. They work alongside other divers, supervisors, and company and on-site managers.
10. What Tools And Technologies Do Commercial Divers Use?
Divers use self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, underwater work chamber, or surface-supplied breathing apparatus for breathing underwater.
Depending on their activity, they may use hand tools, explosives, cameras, hydraulic and pneumatic power tools, and other scientific research equipment.
Divers who work at great depths may require spending time in a decompression chamber after diving to help re-adjust their bodies to normal air pressure.
11. Job Outlook For Divers In Australia
ANZSCO Code - 399911 Divers
Around 78% of Divers work full-time hours for an average of 48 hours per week which is 4 hours more than the average of all other jobs, i.e., 44 hours per week.
Primary industries that employ divers include:
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing - 22.7%
Public administration and safety - 21.5%
Transport, postal, and warehousing - 17.0%
Construction - 10.1%
Other industries - 18.8%
Employment Across Australia
Tasmania and Western Australia have a large share of employees concerning their population size.
Regions with a large share of workers are:
South Australia – Outback
Perth - South West
State-wise Employment Percentage:
NSW - 26.7%
VIC - 14.3%
QLD - 19.2%
SA - 8.3%
WA - 19.2%
TAS - 10.2%
NT - 1.7%
ACT - 0.3%
The average of Divers is 35 years, which is less than the average of all jobs, i.e., 40 years. Most of them are between 25 and 34 years.
Females constitute only 4% of the workforce which is 44 percentage points below the average of all jobs, i.e., 48%.
12. How Much Do Divers Get Paid In Australia?
The average commercial diver's salary in Australia depends on various factors, such as:
Your geographic location
Your experience level and
The diving you engage in
Besides your pay, you may also earn perks such as professional development assistance, parental leave, relocation assistance, etc., based on your employer.
According to Pay Scale, the average commercial diver's salary in Australia is AU$60,000 annually. Their salary depends on varying levels of experience:
Early career Commercial Diver (1-4 years of experience) - AU$36.21 per hour
Mid-career Commercial Diver (5-9 years of experience) - AU$40.98 per hour
Professional diver salary (10-19 years of experience) - AU$42.00 per hour
13. Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Diving License Lifetime?
No. The diving profession is considered a "high-risk" profession in Australia. Due to this, ADAS diving licence holder must renew their licence once every five years to demonstrate competence as an occupational diver.
Failure to renew your ADAS licence at regular intervals will cause your licence to lapse and will incur fees for late renewal of the licence.
What Is The Age Limit For Scuba Diving In Australia?
The age limit for Scuba diving is between 18 to 50 years. Besides age, you also need to show your diving medical fitness to become a trained scuba driver.
How Much Does Commercial Diver Training Cost?
The cost to become a surface supply to a 30-meter air diver (Part 2 diver – at least for onshore construction diving) is 300 dollars per day for forty training days.
The cost to become a surface supply to a 50-meter air diver (Part 3 diver) is 300 dollars a day for sixty training days.
Becoming a closed bell diver (Part 4 diver) costs about 1600 dollars a day for 20 training days.
How To Become a Scuba Diving Instructor in Australia?
Commercial diving is considered a risky profession that needs individuals to be experienced swimmers and can fulfil a physically demanding position.
To become a Scuba diving instructor, you must be certified by a recognized authority such as the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) or the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).
You should also have a first-aid certification and a CPR certification.
You must have at least 50 logged dives.
You must be 18 years old to apply for the licence.
You must pass a complex written and practical examination that confirms you have the skills to become a Scuba Diving Instructor.
How Hard Is It To Get Dive Certified?
Getting a scuba certification is not just a fantastic experience but also simple to earn it. There are several places to get certified, and the process is simple. All it takes is to complete the essential training and pass the certification exam.
An entry-level certification course is flexible and designed based on an individual's rate of evolution. The classes are held in groups of four students who get trained at a dive centre as per the schedule based on individual students' comfort levels. This way, you can rest assured that you won't be left behind!
Some of the popular Commercial Diving Training Providers in Australia:
55 Commercial Road, Melbourne
Commercial Dive Academy, Tasmania
Medical Training Solutions, Western Australia
Pressureworx Hyperbaric Consultants, Victoria
Professional Divers Training Academy, Victoria
Underwater Training Centre, South Australia
How Long Does It Take To Become A Commercial Diver?
The typical duration of an entry-level open water course is 3-4 days, but it can vary based on your training agency.
Training agencies like PADI also offer eLearning to complete the theoretical learning section of the course for speedy course completion.
What Are The Lucrative Diving Jobs In Australia?
If diving interests you, then you may consider pursuing the below high-paying diving careers:
Offshore commercial diving
Military and police diving
Aquarium and pool diving
What Courses are Available For Commercial Divers in Australia?
Here is a list of courses that certification agencies offer. You can choose the following based on your interests and career goals.
Aquaculture/SCUBA/ Wildcatch SSBA/NITROX - 12 days
SSBA/ NITROX - 3 days
Scientific Diver SSBA/ NITROX/ SCUBA/ - 12 days
Occupational Dive Supervisor - 9 days
Lobster Industry Diver - 5 days
Pearl Industry Diver - 12 Days
Dive Equipment Technician - 5 days
Do I Need Scuba Gear For My Diving Course?
It is a matter of personal choice. Investing in expensive scuba equipment is recommended after you become a certified diver.
However, you must have certain essential scuba gears to help make your training easy. These include:
Pair of fins
A wetsuit when diving in colder temperatures
A dive centre is a good place for students to access scuba gear. Also, you can check local dive shops that offer "rental gear included" courses to do the training program without spending on scuba diving equipment.
How Much Does It Cost To Get Scuba Certified In Australia?
Getting certified as a PADI Open Wateriver or a PADI Advanced Open Water diver will cost you between $500 and $1500.
The following factors are taken into account to determine the cost of certification:
What type of diving are you interested in?
How many dives are you taking?
Location of your training session - a guest house or resort?
Course duration – 1-day course or a Multiple day course (based on your availability)
For example, the PADI Open Water course completes in 4 days and costs $500, depending on the location. You can also find less expensive courses that take many days to complete.
Besides the certification course fee, you may also incur expenses to own diving equipment or rental fees to get them on rent. Know that different dive centres have different rates at which they rent out gear.
The estimated buying price for the necessary equipment is:
A mask for $25
Fins for $16
Wetsuit for $100
Snorkel for $10
A diving knife for $15
After completing the certification course, you must invest in your scuba gear. Additionally, you need to buy your diving insurance which ranges from $50 to $200 a year based on your country.
How Long Do You Have To Hold Your Breath To Be A Free Diver?
Free divers have great control and discipline with their bodies. How long they can hold their breath depends on their freediving type – i.e., from using fins or no fins, using support from air-filled balloons and weights sleds, to horizontal or vertical records.
Most divers can hold their breath for 1-2 minutes without much strain, regardless of the diving type. Divers train themselves to ignore the increasing carbon dioxide levels in the body during a dive.
Commercial diving is an exciting and rewarding sport that requires you to be certified to work in Australia.
While you prepare for the career, ensure you don't dive over the limit, respect marine life, and be watchful of the things you do when underwater.
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