Diver – How to enter the job


Divers work underwater and do a variety of tasks such as construction work, retrieving property from wrecked ships, commercial seafood gathering, photography, police work, and dive instructing. They may work close to shore, out at sea, or in lakes and rivers.



Pay for divers varies depending on skills, experience, and the type of diving they do.

  • Newly qualified divers can expect to earn between $29,000 and $40,000 a year.
  • Those with five years’ experience or more usually earn between $40,000 and $60,000 a year.
  • Highly experienced divers with specialist skills can earn up to $80,000 a year.

Commercial divers usually work on short-term projects and are paid a daily rate, which can range from $130 to $1,000 or more. Some commercial divers are employed full time and paid a fixed salary.



What you will do

Divers may do some or all of the following:

  • inspect, build and repair structures using underwater tools and equipment
  • search underwater areas for objects, structures or criminal evidence
  • conduct rescues
  • clean and inspect boats or marine farm structures
  • guide certified divers on underwater tours
  • inspect, clean and wash diving equipment such as wetsuits and tanks
  • instruct dive students
  • complete any necessary paperwork.

Skills and knowledge

Divers need to have:

  • knowledge of diving techniques, and excellent diving skills
  • knowledge of diving equipment, and the ability to repair any equipment that breaks down on-site
  • an understanding of relevant health and safety regulations
  • knowledge of underwater hazards such as rips and currents
  • knowledge of first aid and the ability to deal with emergencies.

Depending on their area of specialisation, divers may also need to have knowledge of:

  • underwater inspection and survey techniques
  • search and rescue procedures
  • construction methods and materials
  • underwater photography
  • the behaviour of marine life.

Working conditions


  • work irregular hours. They may also work weekends and be on call
  • work off boats for days or weeks at a time. They may also spend long periods underwater in lakes, rivers, harbours and at sea
  • may work in extreme conditions including in icy or cold water, water with poor visibility, and in windy or changeable weather conditions
  • may travel throughout New Zealand or work on contract overseas in places such as Antarctica or the North Sea.

Entry requirements

To work as a diver you must:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • have a current medical clearance from the Diving Hyperbaric Medicine Service
  • have a Certificate of Competence, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Service of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. This must be renewed every 5 years.


Most commercial divers also complete more advanced or specalised dive tickets, up to the level of dive master.

Police, navy and customs divers must first enlist with their respective forces.

Divers may also need licences for operating heavy machinery, vehicles or boats.

Underwater construction divers need additional training

To work as a commercial diver in underwater construction you must obtain an Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme (ADAS) qualification in Construction Diving at the appropriate level. 

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary educational requirements, but physical education, maths, physics and workshop technology are useful.

Personal requirements

Divers need to be:

  • able to remain calm in emergencies and work well under pressure
  • confident and adaptable
  • alert and safety-conscious
  • methodical and careful
  • good communicators.

Useful experience

Useful experience for divers includes:

  • recreational diving
  • dive industry retail work
  • building industry work
  • engineering, fitting and welding work
  • scientific work such as marine biology or oceanography
  • work on boats or in the boating industry
  • teaching.

Physical requirements

Divers need to be fit and healthy. They should:

  • have a good level of stamina
  • not have inner-ear problems.

Most divers undergo regular medical and dental checks.










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