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

Average annual salary (starting - experienced): Variable

Typical hours (a week): 42 - 44

How to become a diver

You can get into this job through:

  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
  • training with a professional body


You may be able to apply for diver training through your employer, for example if you're in the police or armed forces. Once qualified, you could work with an underwater unit. Similarly, if you work in oceanography or marine biology, your employer may put you through specialist diver training, so that you can carry out research tasks under the sea.

Direct application

You could apply directly for jobs if you've got the relevant diving and safety qualifications. You'll also need experience relevant to the industry you're working in. For example, you'll need a background in welding to work as an offshore underwater engineer, fixing pipelines.

Other routes

You'll usually do training with a commercial organisation or professional body to get your diving qualifications.

Training must be approved by the Health and Safety Executive. Examples include courses offered by the:

More info

Career tips

You might find it useful to have experience of recreational scuba diving before training as a commercial diver.

Many diving schools offer tests to help you decide whether you'll be suited to working underwater.

Further information

You can find out more about commercial and leisure diving careers through the:

What it takes

Skills & Knowledge

You'll need:

  • 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
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • knowledge of building and construction
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restriction & Requirements

You'll need to:

  • pass a medical check

What you'll do

Day to day

Depending on the type of diving you do, you could be involved in:

  • 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

Working environment

You could work underwater or in an office. Your working environment may be cold, dirty and physically and emotionally demanding. You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

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.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
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