September 11, 2016

For Divers


A Career as a Commercial Diver

Being a commercial diver can be physically and mentally demanding, but it can lead to a rewarding career. To become a commercial diver in Singapore, you will need, at minimum, the following:

  1. Be at least 18 years of age
  2. Possess a current Commercial Diving "Fit to Dive" medical certificate from a hyperbaric and diving medical specialist registered in Singapore.
  3. A Certificate of Training in Commercial Diving. This certificate must be recognised by Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Diving Medical Certificate

Commercial divers must possess a current "Fit to Dive" medical certificate from a hyperbaric and diving medical specialist. These medical certificates should be specifically for “commercial diving” or “occupational diving” or equivalent. Medical certificates for recreational diving are not suitable. These medical certificates generally remain valid for one year after the initial medical examination; they become invalid after the stated expiry date, and must be renewed. The doctor providing this certificate must also be registered in Singapore. As a guide, divers can refer to the CDA(S) Guide “Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Practitioners” which can be downloaded from the “Downloads” tab.

Note: This guide only lists the doctors which CDA(S) members are currently consulting with, and have been suggested by members for inclusion in this list. It does not list every Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Practitioner in Singapore. A complete listing would be available from the proper registration body for medical doctors.

If you are New to Commercial Diving
To become a commercial diver in Singapore, you must undergo an approved course in commercial diving and obtain a certificate of training which is recognised by Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

These courses are:

Level 1 Inland/Inshore Commercial Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (CSCUBA) Diver (No decompression, to 30m)
Level 2 Inland/Inshore Surface-Supplied Diving Equipment (SSDE) Diver (to 30m)

Source: Commercial Diving Competency Standards (Workplace Safety & Health Council / Ministry of Manpower, Singapore)

Such training is available in Singapore at the accredited* Learning Service Providers (training centres) listed below:

*Accredited by Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC) to ISO 29990


Training Provider Contact
KBA Training Centre Pte Ltd

Singapore Citizens and Singapore registered Permanent Residents (PRs) are eligible for funding (subsidy) for these Singapore qualifications above. The exact amount of funding depends on the terms and conditions set out by the relevant Government agency involved, but you can expect around 90% funding.

Some foreign qualifications (from Australia, UK etc.) are also recognised by MOM, but the courses to these qualifications are not subsidised. A list of these acceptable foreign qualifications can be found in CDA(S) Guidance Document "Recognized Diver Certificates”, which can be downloaded from our “Downloads” tab. A complete listing can be found in the MOM document “Technical Notes (TN): Surface Supplied Diving Equipment (SSDE) Diver” Appendix C, which can be downloaded from the WSH Council website.

Recreational diving certifications (e.g. from PADI, NAUI, PDIC etc.) and military diving qualifications are not acceptable to MOM for commercial diving.

If you already are a Certified Commercial Diver
You may already be in possession of a foreign commercial diving qualification other than MOM’s Level 1 and Level 2. You should check with the MOM’s list of recognised commercial diving qualifications, which can be found in the MOM document “Technical Notes: Surface Supplied Diving Equipment (SSDE) Diver” Appendix C, which can be downloaded from the WSH Council website.

A summarised version of this list can be found in the CDA(S) Guidance Document "Recognized Diver Certificates”, which can be downloaded from our “Downloads” tab.

If your qualification is recognised by MOM for commercial diving, you are good to start, or continue, your career as a commercial diver without having to undergo the MOM Level 1 and Level 2 courses.

If you are an Uncertified but Experienced Commercial Diver
You may be one of the active commercial divers in Singapore who has been working as a diver for many years, but never had the opportunity to attend a course of training and instruction at a recognised commercial diving training centre. This can be a problem because a certificate of training as a commercial diver is a MOM requirement, and is non-negotiable, regardless of how many years of experience you may already have.

One way to get yourself certified in line with MOM requirements is to undergo an “experienced diver programme” which is acceptable to MOM.

In Singapore, this would be the “Assessment Only Pathway” (AOP) programme, currently available at the commercial diver training centre listed above. The “assessment” (not a course!) lasts 10 days (compared to the 40 days for a full Level 1+2 course) and results in a recognised Level 2 equivalent i.e. the “Level 2: Surface Supplied Diver – Assessment Only Pathway” qualification.

Bear in mind that, if your past experience is very limited (e.g. only SCUBA diving), you will not be able to pass the Assessment. In this case, we recommend you attend the full course. If you are unsure, you can arrange to meet with the course provider for a frank discussion on your suitability for the AOP programme.

Some foreign certifying bodies (e.g. ADAS from Australia) also have a form of experienced diver programme, to obtain an Offshore Diver certificate. However, these programmes are only for those with extensive offshore diving experience. Again, if you unsure, you should seek out the training centre involved to check your eligibility.

If you want to be Commercial Diving Supervisor
As with the Diver, a Commercial Diving Supervisor is required to undergo a course of instruction at an accredited Learning Service Provider to obtain an Inland Inshore Diving Supervisor certificate, which is acceptable to MOM.

These courses are:

Level 3 Inland/Inshore Commercial Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (CSCUBA) Dive Supervisor (No decompression, to 30m)
Level 4 Inland/Inshore Surface-Supplied Diving Equipment (SSDE) Dive Supervisor (to 30m)

Source: Commercial Diving Competency Standards (Workplace Safety & Health Council / Ministry of Manpower, Singapore)

These courses are available at the Learning Service Provider (LSP) listed above. These Dive Supervisor courses also have funding options for Singaporeans and PRs.

A few foreign dive supervisor qualifications are also recognised by MOM e.g. the IMCA Air Dive Supervisor qualification. These are listed in the MOM document (the TN) listed above.

There is currently no Assessment Only Pathway (AOP) programme for experienced Dive Supervisors.

If you want Additional Commercial Diving Certifications
Once you have obtained the required certificate of training for commercial diving, you are free to obtain additional certifications or skills qualifications. These memberships or certifications are usually arranged by the diving companies. Some common examples of these additional certifications are listed below.

Type of Additional Certifications Examples
Membership or Recognition by a Trade Association A Diver Card from ADC International, a US based Association
Diving Skills Qualifications
  • Underwater NDT Inspectors
  • Underwater Welders
  • Underwater cutting / burning
Surface support Qualifications
  • Diver Medic Technicians
  • Life Support Technicians, Chamber Operators
  • Dive Equipment Technician
  • Dive Helmet Service Technician

Note: The above qualifications in themselves are not proof that you have obtained the required diver training certificate. Always have a copy of your diver training certificate or diver accreditation card (CDA(S), ADAS, HSE etc.) ready, to prove that you are qualified to MOM requirements.

A Note on Divers’ Log Books
A diver must have and maintain a personal Diver’s Log Book. Not only is it a legal requirement, it will serve as a CV for your future career.

Many dive companies will have some sort of Operations Log Book which will record every dive of every diver on a particular job or project. Obviously, you cannot take this company Log Book with you if you decide to leave the company, and you then will be without any record of your diving experience. Do get and maintain your own personal Diver’s Log Book which you can keep with you throughout your career.

A Professional Commercial Diver’s Log Book can be purchased from your course provider, or you can check one of the equipment suppliers listed under “Associate Members”, in the “Contact Us” webpage.

A Note on Expired Certificates
Many (but not all) certificates in this industry do come with expiry dates, and will become invalid when expired. Do keep a close eye on these expiry dates, and arrange to renew or recertify yourself early to avoid lapses.

DO NOT be tempted to alter, edit, falsify or fabricate any certificate or record. Falsified or fake certificates are illegal under the WSH Act, and culprits can face fines and/or jail time. Further, it is a growing industry practice for companies and clients to double-check certificates and even Log Books. The chances of being caught are quite high. Do keep everything above board, and you can have a long career as a professional of good standing and reputation within the industry.

Industry & Union Support
If you are a new diver looking for that first commercial diving job, you are welcome to submit your CV to CDA(S). CDA(S) will forward the CV to our members for their consideration. If you already have a particular company in mind, you can contact the diving companies directly, through the contacts in the “Contact Us” page.

Divers or industry partners who have safety concerns can also contact CDA(S) for advice. If it is a matter of great urgency, we recommend you contact MOM directly, through their safety hotline 6317 1111.

In Singapore, commercial divers come under the sector of Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering. Therefore, divers seeking union support in matters of salary or employment can consult with the Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Employees Union (SMEEU).

Union membership is reasonably priced. Apart from union support in matters of employment, members are eligible for training grants and some benefits from NTUC-supported retail outlets. You can contact SMEEU through the contact in the “Contacts Us” page, or through CDA(S).