HSE SCUBA: How Important is it for a Commercial Diving Career?


To start your commercial diving career, you must have a recognised commercial diving certification, such as HSE or ADAS. While a lot of commercial diving work is carried out using surface supplied diving equipment, there is still a demand for SCUBA – and you must have HSE SCUBA or equivalent to attend the HSE Surface Supplied Course.

Nick Reeves is an HSE SCUBA Instructor at The Underwater Centre, Fort William. Here he answers the most common questions he’s had about the HSE SCUBA Course.

What commercial diving work can I do with this ticket?

“HSE SCUBA is frequently used in industries such as media and journalism which can include building underwater film sets and underwater filming. Lots of nature documentaries involve divers and many stunt performers are HSE SCUBA qualified. It’s commonly used in support of marine biology and scientific research projects as well as fish farming and shellfish diving. If risk assessment allows, SCUBA may be used for more manual tasks such as clearing a fouled propeller on a boat and to perform some inspection work too.”

Can I go recreational diving with this certificate?

“Yes of course – up to the equivalent of a CMAS 3 Star Diver. It doesn’t allow you to work in the recreational sector though, for instance, as a recreational dive instructor. You would need PADI, BSAC or similar for that.”

What does the HSE SCUBA Course involve?

“At its most basic it covers life-sustaining training. It starts with three familiarisation dives in our massive onshore seawater tank, and then the remainder of the dives are from the SCUBA station on our pier, and on one of our air diving barges. There will be a minimum of 19 dives in a range of open-water depths up to 30 metres. HSE SCUBA training also involves a deep air dive to a maximum of 50 metres in a surface decompression chamber.

Our course enables you to learn best practise commercial diving work. It also includes a range of subsea hand tools and tasks, such as the use of air lift bags. It’s a valuable stepping stone for your career.

Other tasks covered during the course include:

  • Dive planning, navigation, and equipment techniques.
  • Survey techniques, search criteria, and measurement tasks.
  • Moorings, video inspections (underwater videography).

Students always love the lift bags and rigging tasks, as they’re so hands-on. The moorings work is popular too as it’s very similar to future job opportunities.”

What are the HSE SCUBA exams like?

“The exams are multiple choice, combined with ongoing practical assessments. You’ll be assessed in areas such as operating a dive site, underwater procedures and diver and self-rescue procedures. Theory topics include physics, physiology, chambers and air purity, hazardous diving and legislation.

We provide support on all of these topics for students of every level. There’s always past exam papers and homework related to each of these topics. All of the SCUBA instructors are there to help with any areas of difficulty.”

The HSE SCUBA course is included in all of The Underwater Centre’s commercial diving career packages.

Visit The Underwater Centre website to find out more, or if you have any questions for Nick, contact The Underwater Centre’s Student Advisors on +44 1397 703786 or email fortwilliam@theunderwatercentre.com.

The Underwater Centre

The Underwater Centre

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.

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