Job type


£18k - £66k

Typical salary

35 – 44

Hours per week

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

More info

  • Use your diving skills in a range of industries and settings, at sea or in lakes and pools
  • You'll need excellent physical fitness and swimming skills
  • Opportunities to work for yourself or for a range of different organisations

As a diver, you'll usually specialise in a particular type of diving: offshore oil & gas, inland/inshore, the media, scientific research/underwater archaeology, the police, or leisure.


Your day-to-day duties will vary on which sector you specialise in as a diver.

Offshore oil & gas:

  • Exploring & surveying
  • Building & maintaining drilling rigs & pipelines


  • Working on civil engineering projects
  • Carrying out underwater repairs
  • Demolition/salvage
  • Fish farming

The media:

  • Performing stunts
  • Doing underwater filming

Scientific research/underwater archeology

The police:

  • Searching for & recovering missing persons/evidence


  • Leading recreational SCUBA dives/teaching SCUBA diving skills

You'll specialise in one type of diving:

  • SCUBA (Self-contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) - using an air tank and flippers, mainly in recreational, media and police diving
  • Restricted Surface Supplied - using an air line to the surface, usually in inshore/inland diving
  • Surface Supplied - using a hot water suit, air line and open diving bells, in offshore diving
  • Closed Bell or Saturation Diving - using a diving bell and mixed gas for deep sea diving (often used in surveying, marine archaeology and scientific diving)


The amount of time spent underwater is strictly controlled, but hours can still be long and intensive. Not all time is spent underwater; time is also spent planning for dives and preparing equipment. Inshore divers work around 10 to 12 hours a day. In some offshore jobs you may have to live for up to 28 days in an undersea pressure chamber. Diving is physically and mentally demanding. Conditions underwater are often cold, dark and dirty, especially in inland sites. You'll wear protective clothing and breathing apparatus appropriate to the depth and type of dive. You'd normally be self-employed as a commercial diver.

You'll need

This role is ideal for someone with excellent swimming ability, stamina and physical fitness, calmness under pressure, good levels of concentration under demanding physical conditions, the ability to follow strict safety procedures, the ability to work both as part of a team and alone.

You must pass a medical carried out by a doctor approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) before you begin professional diver training.

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.

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.

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 Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) or British Sub-Aqua Club.

You might also 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.


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.