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What Background Best Suits a Career as a Commercial Diver?

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Commercial Diver

A question we are often asked is ‘What sort of experience do I need for a career as a commercial diver?’  Here we explain the kind of skills and experience which will stand you in good stead for your future career in the diving industry.

Diving Only Gets You to the Dive Site

101004KB-SS-Divers-ADII-1-297x300Working as a commercial diver means exactly that – working underwater. The kind of work carried out by divers ranges from inshore or civil work such as hull inspections, harbour repairs, underwater concreting or welding and cutting, to offshore work such as platform leg inspection and repairs in depths of up to 50 metres and over. This means that employers are looking for divers who are up to labour intensive work in an often hostile environment, who can think and act by themselves but also follow technical instructions given verbally and in writing. They must also be a team player but must also be able to work unsupervised alone if necessary. A practical background doing any form of fabrication or construction involving the use of tools is useful; such people tend to have many of the attributes already mentioned.

No Such Thing as a ‘Usual’ Dive

There is the added element of completing the job while subjected to several bars of water pressure with varying visibility. Past student Chris Chell once completed a job painting a harbour wall with black paint in zero visibility.  Tenacity is an important attribute for any commercial diver regardless of what the job is. In one dive you can get good visibility and then no visibility and back to good visibility again. The same goes for currents and tides: by their nature they are always changing and will affect the job. There is no such thing as a ‘normal’ or ‘usual’ dive; a commercial diver must first and foremost be able to adapt to changing circumstances and ‘make it happen’.

Recreational Diving Experience

Scuba-full-face-mask-dive-11-300x225To be a successful commercial diver doesn’t necessarily equate to having extensive experience of diving either.  Some of the best commercial divers have never dived before training in Fort William yet they have a hands-on attitude that is the basis of every good commercial diver. That said, if you’re an experienced sport diver you will have some familiarisation with the kit and you will know you are comfortable in the water.

Here are some example of careers our past diving students have come from, and some of their thoughts on training and working as commercial divers:

“I have always had a strong interest in how things work and how to make things work better. I did an NC welding course and as a result of this I was offered an apprenticeship in welding and fabrication. I wanted to combine my love of swimming with welding and had always been interested in commercial diving.”

Alistair Nicol, previously a farm worker and welder.

“I worked for a while as a diving instructor in Turkey before returning to Scotland, where I got a job as a chamber operator at the Hyperbaric Centre in Aberdeen. It then seemed like a natural progression to train as a commercial diver.”

Angus Haig, previously a sport diving instructor and chamber operator.

“I’ve always had a love for water, and knew from an early age that I wanted to become a commercial diver – I love the prospect of working in a completely alien environment unseen by most other people, and being part of a close knit team. Team work is vital as a commercial diver.”

Guy Bohlschied, previously worked as an insurance damage cleaner.

“My first job was blanking the bow thruster on a Royal Navy minesweeper at night – nobody said it was going to be easy!”

Chris Chell, previously a welder.

Getting Started as a Commercial Diver

The courses we provide give you the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) certificates required to work legally as a commercial diver.  We also include training in underwater tools and tasks as part of the course because that knowledge and experience is essential to your success as a commercial diver. Any practical experience and knowledge you have from working on the surface will not only benefit your CV but will also assist on your course.

So if you’re the type of person who could change a tyre without trouble, and aren’t afraid of hard work then commercial diving is for you. If you have any questions, contact one of our Student Advisors by emailing fortwilliam@theunderwatercentre.com, call +44 1397 703786, or visit our website to learn more about a career as a commercial diver, and the skills training included in our diving courses.

Whether you're looking to start an exciting new career in diving, train as an ROV pilot technician, or your company wants to carry out vital subsea equipment testing or trials, our commitment to your needs is what makes The Underwater Centre, Fort William special.

Dive Training Blogs

5 Easy Steps For Choosing A Scuba Diving Center You’ll LOVE! (Watch Video)

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How do you pick which dive operation wins your money for your scuba diving vacation? If you only get to dive on vacation, you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth and getting experiences you enjoy. That’s why we are giving you our easy 5-step process for filtering out dive centers and narrowing down your selection to find the scuba team you want to be diving with!

In this example–driven video, we are showing you our procedure for how we pick our scuba dive operator. In this case, I use the island of Barbados, as I’ve actually never been scuba diving there.

THANK YOU so much to EVERYONE who is a part of this great community. We promise we have so much more planned for this channel. We’re going to keep spreading information and positivity to the Scuba Divers around the world! IMPROVE. INSPIRE. EXPLORE.


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 7

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Join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy for the final part of his Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Deptherapy expeditions do not just magically happen, they need planning and they need funding.  This expedition was funded by our long-term partners the Veterans’ Foundation.  The funding is part of a grant they awarded us for programmes this year, which were then put on hold because of COVID.

All charities in the Armed Forces’ Sector are struggling for funds. Deptherapy desperately needs support going forward and every penny counts.

We know what we do works and at the end of this blog you will find details of the research studies into Deptherapy’s programmes and how they impact on the lives of our beneficiaries.  This includes details that are hot off the press about the latest study that reports that what we offer through scuba diving and 24/7 support has benefits beyond those found in other sporting rehabilitation programmes.

Well tomorrow we fly home, late in the evening with the journey home for some of the guys who live up North taking around 15 hours after leaving Roots.

We want to make the most of today but with the tide running we are not going to be able to dive until later this morning which means only two dives today.

Oatsie and Swars about to start their sidemount dives

Things, however are really busy over at the dive centre with Swars and Oatsie putting their sidemount kit together for their training dives with Steve Rattle leading to their RAID sidemount qualification.  It has been nice to be able to offer the guys this extra training, given the amount of work they have put in this week.  They have needed to get through their theory quickly but given the RADI online learning system this has not been too arduous.

Steve came diving with us yesterday to get some more photos and was really amazed at the progress that Corey had made. He was quite open in his praise, as in his view Corey has gone from a non-diver to being a very competent OW diver capable of diving, unsupervised, with a buddy.  Praise indeed.

Other than the sidemount course we are diving as a group today: Corey, Keiron, Michael, Moudi and me. Corey has been given some tasks – SMB deployment on both dives and the afternoon dive will be a ‘naturalist dive’.  Guy Henderson has set Corey a task: ‘to identify three species of fish and record the time into the dive and the depth at which each one was spotted’.  Guy runs Marine Biology courses on the reef and knows where the fish are to be found, how long into the dive, and at what time.

The two Toms are getting put through their paces. They have walked their cylinders down to the entry point, but Steve sends them back to the dive centre to collect other kit they should have brought with them.

Our general dive goes well and the sidemount guys appear from their sidemount dive some 90 minutes after dipping their heads under the water.

Corey enjoying being a RAID OW20 Diver

Lots of bubbly chat at lunchtime, a group of really happy divers. Corey really has benefited from the week and over lunch thanked the team for making him a diver. He has very quickly become part of the family and after returning home he published an amazing post on Facebook about his experience.  Corey really gets Deptherapy and had soon realised that we see past mental and physical injuries and see the person inside and work with that person.  He also realised that we want beneficiaries to see their fellow beneficiaries in the same light.  He knows he now has another ‘family’ – a family of brothers in arms who have two things in common, they served their country and they have suffered life changing injuries or illnesses.

Back into the water for the afternoon dive and Corey identifies the fish and records the details on a slate.  The two Tom’s complete their second dive and qualify as RAID Sidemount Divers. Great!

Kit packed away and it is time to return to the camp for a few well-earned last night drinks.

I am often asked why we use Roots as our exclusive base for diving. I have mentioned before that it offers us an ideal retreat, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We are secluded and there are no distractions such as late-night bars etc.

Roots Accessible Room

The second reason is the amazing welcome we receive from Steve, Clare, Moudi and the team.  We have been going to Roots since 2014 and many of the staff have become good friends, they understand our needs and are the friendliest people you could ever wish to meet.

The third reason is the huge investment Steve and Clare have made in making the resort and dive centre accessible for those with physical injuries including those who need to use wheelchairs.  All our beneficiaries can enjoy Roots and, in fact, love it here.  The reef is perfect for us and in non-COVID times we can travel to the Salem Express and other dive sites to enjoy more of the Red Sea experience.

Accessible toilet on the Roots beach

After discussions with the team I was very proud to be able to tell Corey that his progress had been such that we were inviting him on the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust sponsored two-week Marine Biology Course at Roots in June 2021. There is lots of homework to undertake under the guidance of Dr Debbie McNeill of Open Oceans and Corey will be sent the Red Sea Guide which is the basis for study.

While on that programme, Corey with fellow beneficiary Dale Mallin, will complete his RAID Advanced 35 course.  This all builds to a 10-day Red Sea liveaboard in 2022, onboard Roots’ new boat Big Blue where 18 beneficiaries will compare the coral and aquatic life on the wrecks of the SS Thistlegorm and the less known SS Turkia that is to be found in the Gulf of Suez and is rarely dived.

Paul Rose, our Vice President, is supporting the programme and is seeking the support of the UN and the Royal Geographical Society. A comprehensive report will be submitted to our partners in the project and to the Egyptian Authorities.

Last night and chill

What we do works:

In recent years there have been three academic studies into our work:

2018 – A study by a team from the University of Sheffield Medical School.

2019 – A study by The Centre of Trauma at Nottingham University.

Both these studies reported very positively on Deptherapy’s work both underwater but also in terms of the provision of 24/7 support.

The following is from our press release which was issued on 26th October:

‘A new study into Scuba Diving Rehabilitation Charity Deptherapy’s approach to supporting Armed Forces veterans with psychological injuries such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through the medium of scuba diving has been carried out by Petra Walker in conjunction with Hanna Kampman of the Posttraumatic Growth Research Unit at the University of East London.

This study, which used Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), demonstrates that scuba diving has rehabilitation benefits beyond those found in other forms of sporting rehabilitation exercise. IPA is a qualitative methodology that examines the experiences of participants and has been used in previous studies of Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) in para-athletes.

Petra is an experienced diver herself and was exploring the wellbeing aspects of scuba diving as part of her Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology when she came across a previous study on Deptherapy. Past studies have mainly focused on the medical aspects of diving, so the opportunity to examine the mental health side of rehabilitative scuba diving was impossible to ignore. The full study is currently embargoed until it is published at a future date in an academic journal, but it follows similar academic research into the work of Deptherapy by the University of Sheffield Medical School (2018) and the University of Nottingham (2019).’

This is amazing news and sets us apart from other sporting rehabilitation programmes.

We are currently working with our VP Richard Castle who is a Consultant Psychologist and our Dive Medicine Advisor Mark Downs to identify further areas of psychological and physical dive related research.

We end the week on a happy note.  A young man who has learned to dive properly with a RAID OW 20 certification, a new RAID Master Rescue Diver, two new RAID Sidemount Divers, 5 new RAID O2 Providers, many assessments for our DMs but most of all a week of learning, of making new friendships, renewing old friendships, and building on our family ethos.

Until we meet again…

For us, Deptherapy is a journey, a journey that continues to push boundaries in the use of scuba diving in the rehabilitation of those suffering life changing mental and/or physical challenges.  On our journey we want to change the way the scuba diving industry views diving for those with disabilities.

In the new year, we will be launching, with our diver training agency partners RAID, a new and exciting adaptive teaching programme that will offer diving to the disabled community. We can’t wait to share it with you!


Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk

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