How I became a Commercial Diver

How I became a Commercial Diver

Here is my experience of commercial dive schools. Having decided to embark on a career as a commercial diver my next move was to choose a school to become a commercial diver.

You can also read how I came to the point of becoming a commercial diver.

Pre-course Apprehension

In my country in Scotland, there were two dive centers offering certification course on commercial diving. I guess the start of this new passion was not lucky enough as one of the dive centers did not have a course during that time. And the other one let me down by canceling just a day before I was supposed to start.

Commercial diver

Flickr (Official U.S. Navy Page)


But things changed and I spoke to some of fellow commercial divers in Scotland. They shared their experience of taking the course in Durban, South Africa and highly recommended to take the course with the Professional Diving Center (PDC). As the training usually takes three months, I was apprehensive at first of going there. But as soon as I was able to talk with the guys from PDC, I decided to make a go for it.

I was doubtful when I first arrive in the facilities of PDC. The place was empty as the guys were out for a training dive with only the secretary left at the Office. As I looked around watching the 6 bunks accommodation room inside a metal container, an open shower, a kitchen, a large classroom and the yard, I started to wonder if this was a good idea. My doubts were just only relieved when I saw the guys coming back from the dive training. They all welcome me, made me comfortable while I excitedly watch the gears being unloaded.

Embarking on a Journey as a commercial diver

Commercial dive boat

Paul Yates

After a week of attending lectures and studying my dive manual, my instructor Grant Jamieson exposed me to dive training in a tank. I started with a briefing and controlling the valves of the dive helmet. Once underwater, I started learning to switch from surface air supply to my 12 liter bail-out tank connected to the helmet. This is a relatively important skill as part of the emergency procedures when the surface supply encounters some problems. After training in tanks, I started to explore the designated dock area where I was able to descend up to 18 meters (60 feet).

Series of hands-on training has led to me to develop the skills of welding both in land and underwater. I have done Ultra-Thermic burning (BROCO) with temperatures reaching 10,000 degrees fahrenheit burning through anything on its way and Air-Jetting using a High-Pressure Jetgun. I also learned Air-lifting in a knee-depth mud using a sub-sea suction tube.

Becomming a commercial diver

Malcolm McMullen

One of the crucial parts of the training dive is the deep dive where some of my classmates failed. You can go as deep as 50 meters (165 feet) in an old slate quarry that has been flooded. We were required to do 4 deep dives. You will usually follow a rope that will trail around and leads you back to the surface. I can describe this dive as dark and muddy with almost 2 feet (0.6 meters) of silt.

It is inevitable that decompression sickness will set-in when you do commercial diving. So it is paramount for you to learn how to competently use a Decompression Chamber. I admit were times when I found it hard but I also found some exercises to be fun like the Bell Run Training.

My Commercial Diving training ended up with me having 200 minutes of dive log, satisfactorily passed the exams and now a certified commercial diver. It was a hard feeling with a heavy heart leaving the premises of PDC and went back home. Fortunately, I safely arrived back home two weeks before Christmas just in time to spend the holidays with my family and relax.

Off and lean season for a commercial diver

Old days commercial diver helmet

Semen Lixodeev

During training, we find it hard that there were no recreational activities during evenings. So we build a patio to play snookers or pool, TV or just telling stories. This relatively helps us as this is a great form of relaxation.

You are also trained to do all sorts of task if there are no diving activities. For example, if the weather does not permit diving, you can do equipment maintenance, repair works or perhaps painting metal bars will surely make most of your time.

The training was done as close as possible to actual offshore working life. Our instructor also told us that you can go for long periods without work. So having other trades or livelihood can be very useful. Our instructor shared to us that he drives HGV Lorries when dive work is scarce.

Do you dream of a career in commercial diving?

It’s not for the lot, but at some point most divers considered the life of a commercial diver. If you have any questions about the life or training of a commercial diver, leave it in the comment below, and we’ll do our best to answer them.

About The Author

Brian Mcpherson

Brian has been scuba diving for about 20 years and is booth CMAS, SCOTSAC and PADI certified. He’s been Commercial diving for 10 years, both Air and Sat and the job has taken him to Congo, Angola, Nigeria and the North sea as well as the Atlantic off the Scottish west coast.


  1. Pj Olszewski

    What would be the cut off age? I thought about it…then again I will be 36 this year currently holding a DM cert with PADI. From my understanding I am too old for the job!

    • Brian McPherson

      PJ At 36yrs you are still OK to take up commercial diving but you would need to do it quite soon as it can take 2-3 years to get your name established among companies. Brian McPherson

  2. Jeff Vittorio

    Do you seriously train to operate decompressions camper your self? That sounds so wild.

    I have always dreamt of doing work like this. I started diving last year, but I’m not sure how much training I need before I can go all the way.

    I’m still in school now, but I consider starting a welding course after and then take a commercial course.

  3. Pauline

    No would never go away from diving for the fun of it. It looks cool with all the gear and big helmets, but I’m not even sure I would be able to carry all of it.

    It’s an interesting way of getting into the commercial dive business. I was sure everyone was born to so this kind of diving.

  4. samir saha

    Hi, I am from Bangladesh and really very much interested about scuba diving. I want to learn and do professional course. But in our country there’s no institution like yours..
    In such circumstances what can i do to fulfill my dream.
    If u can help me then i would be really greatful to you.

    • Brian McPherson

      Hi Samir.
      I would suggest you contact Grant Jameison at the PDC, professional diving centre in Durban south Africa, this is where I went to do my course and at the time I was there 10 indian guys were also doing their training.
      You are well taught and looked after by Grant, he is the top man in diver training.
      Tell him I recommended you to him, he is a good friend of mine. Brian

  5. Keith R.

    Hey Brian, I was wondering if you could give any advice about a suggested fitness regimen to make sure I’m in good shape for dive training.

  6. Brian McPherson

    Hello,the best fitness regime is to boost your lung capacity so running up hills.boxing training are highly recommended,i was a professional boxer prior to becoming a diver, Best wishes and let me know how you get on. Brian

  7. Arthur Adrian Rapay De VIlla

    Hi Brain, just read all the concern on this forum.. actually I’m quite interested with this new sport nor lets say career.. I’m currently schooling at CMAS Philippines as open water, but of course still need to go far more as to be commercial diver.. simultaniously enrolled for welding course too… I taking my big shift to this new profession.. now I’m currently working as freelance producer a per project basis .. that is why need a big shifts as permanent career for the sake of my kids…

    my question In my age about 38 do you think I’m still capable for this job as Commercial Diver.. need an advise from the expert..and get some pointers..

  8. Gaz

    Diving is something I have an interest in and have the opportunity to qualify in the regular pursuit up to instructor level. I have been looking into the commercial aspect for further down the road once my military service is complete. I have another 8 years to go until I complete a full 22 year service.

    I read your article with great interest although I know fear I’ll be looking at being over the hill age wise with being 37 now.


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