Qualifications and competency

Diving workers and recreational divers need to be competent for the diving activity being undertaken. Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) must ensure divers hold appropriate qualifications and are competent to undertake the dive in question.

Diving procedures should be developed in consultation with workers and should be documented along with the responsibilities of each appointed member of the dive team and associated workers, such as a vessel master. It is important that the PCBU provides induction and ongoing training, such as toolbox talks and emergency drills so that responsibilities are clearly allocated and the procedures to be followed are known to all parties.

High risk diving work
General diving work
Recreational diving
Recreational snorkelling

High risk diving work

Divers, dive supervisors, standby divers and attendants must be qualified and competent in accordance with AS/NZS 2299.1: 2015 Occupational diving operations – Standard operational practice. For example divers and dive supervisors may hold appropriate ADAS qualifications for the work being undertaken.

This standard also details the dive team size and roles for different types of high risk diving work.

General diving work

In determining the most appropriate competency options for general diving work, the PCBU should review the work and ensure that the competency option selected is relevant to the work. Issues to consider should include:

  • the diving environment
  • the diving equipment and breathing gas to be used
  • the decompression schedule to be used
  • the tasks to be undertaken
  • any tools to be used
  • any other hazards associated with the task.

The competency for general diving work consists of two parts.

Firstly the diver must hold an appropriate qualification. The qualification can be either:

  • a statement of attainment from a relevant VET course for relevant diving units of competency under the following subject streams
  • a certificate from a dive training organisation that is the equivalent to AS/NZS 4005:2000 Training and certification of recreational divers, Part 2 - recreational SCUBA dive supervisor (e.g. a Divemaster certificate issued by the Professional Association of Dive Instructors).

Secondly the diver must have, through training, qualification or experience, acquired sound knowledge and skill that is relevant to their general diving work in relation to the following competency checklist:

  • the application of diving physics
  • the use, inspection and maintenance of diving equipment (including emergency equipment) and air supply of the type to be used in the proposed general diving work
  • the use of decompression tables or dive computers
  • dive planning
  • ways of communicating with another diver and with persons at the surface during general diving work
  • how to safely carry out general diving work of the type proposed to be carried out
  • diving physiology and first aid.

Other competency options exist for specific circumstances:

  • incidental diving work (e.g. for an actor undertaking diving during a film shoot)
  • limited scientific diving work – for visiting overseas scientists working in Australia.

A dive supervisor for general diving work must be competent to dive and have experience in the diving work to be supervised (e.g. as recorded in the diver's log book). The appointed dive supervisor must prepare any dive plan and give others workers instruction about the plan. The dive supervisor must also verify the return of each diver on the dive safety log and count and record the number of persons on board before each vessel departure.

Examples of competencies for diving workers are available for your use.

Recreational diving

At a dive site, an appropriate number of workers should be available to undertake the duties of dive supervisor, rescuer, first aid provider and lookout. Dive workers should be trained in the procedures required for particular dive sites and their specific duties.

A dive supervisor should be appointed and on the surface at the dive site to supervise dive operations. Dive supervisors should, as a minimum, hold a current qualification as a certified assistant and have experience for the area being supervised. Dive supervisors should be able to instruct and advise divers, recognise risks from diver's abilities and behaviour and recognise environmental risks and hazards.

A lookout must be appointed at the dive site when divers are in the water and be solely engaged in that duty. They should have skills to effectively and efficiently scan and observe the dive area, including identifying people in distress and emerging hazards such as changing weather conditions. Lookouts must be able to communicate with other workers and direct or undertake rescues and give first aid if required.

A dive instructor must hold a current qualification from a recreational dive training organisation designed to qualify the person as a dive instructor. Dive instructors should instruct resort divers and divers in training. Dive instructors should be able to assess potential divers, provide instruction, effectively supervise in water and respond to emergencies and problems.

For resort diving the dive instructor should have:

  • undertaken specific training and assessment for resort diving from a dive training organisation or
  • documented and assessed induction training conducted by the PCBU.

A certified assistant should hold a current qualification from a recreational dive training organisation to assistant a dive instructor. A certified assistant may assist a dive instructor in a training dive, provide in water supervision for certificated divers or be a dive supervisor if they have appropriate experience.

Resort divers should be at least 12 years old and have been taught mask clearing and removing and replacing their regulator underwater. They should also be instructed and informed about:

  • equalising their ears
  • hand signals
  • using an emergency ascent procedure which includes exhaling on ascent and achieving and maintaining positive buoyancy on the surface
  • environmental conditions and marine life
  • vessel, entry and exit safety information
  • locations and roles of lookouts, dive instructors and certified assistants.

Entry level divers should be at least 12 years old and be trained through documented training procedures that comply in principle with AS 4005.1-2000 Training and certification of recreational divers – Minimum entry-level SCUBA diving.

Certificated divers should hold a qualification from a recreational dive training organisation and be able to provide details of their dive skills and experience to the PCBU. The PCBU should assess the certificated diver's competency to undertake the dive safely by asking about the diver's medical fitness, skills and experience relevant to the dive conditions. If there are doubts as to the competence of the diver to complete a particular dive, a certified assistant or dive instructor should accompany the diver on that dive or an assessment dive should be undertaken.

A documented risk management process (PDF, 107.36 KB) for certificated diver assessment is available for your use.

An EANx dive supervisor should be trained as a certified assistant and be qualified as an EANx diver.

An EANx dive instructor should be qualified as an EANx diver and a dive instructor for EANx. They should have undertaken at least 20 EANx dives and certificated at least 25 entry level or higher divers.

An EANx diver in training should be a certificated diver and undertake two open water dives on EANx before certification.

An EANx rebreather dive supervisor should be trained as a certified assistant and be qualified as an EANx rebreather diver.

An EANx rebreather dive instructor should be qualified as an EANx rebreather diver and a rebreather dive instructor for EANx (model specific). They should have undertaken at least 20 rebreather dives and certificated at least 25 entry level or higher divers.

An EANx rebreather diver in training should be a certificated EANx diver and have undertaken at least five dives on EANx.  Before certification they should complete one confined water session and four open water dives using the rebreather.

A mixed gas dive instructor should be qualified as a mixed gas diver and a dive instructor for mixed gas decompression stop diving. They should have undertaken at least 15 mixed gas dives and certificated at least 25 EANx divers.

A mixed gas diver in training should be a certificated EANx diver and have undertaken at least 30 dives on EANx.  They should also have undertaken at least 150 dives including at least 50 dives over 30 meters and 30 dives in the last 12 months.

A mixed gas rebreather dive instructor should be qualified as a mixed gas rebreather diver, an EANx dive instructor and a mixed gas rebreather dive instructor (model specific). They should have undertaken at least 50 mixed gas rebreather dives and 20 dives on the model being used for instruction.

A mixed gas rebreather diver in training should be a certificated EANx diver and have undertaken at least 100 dives of which at least 20 should be on EANx. 

A decompression stop diver should have completed a course in decompression diving or, if they are diving to depths of 40 meters or less, have undertaken 10 decompression dives or should be accompanied by a competent dive worker.

Recreational snorkelling

At a snorkelling site, an appropriate number of workers should be available to undertake the duties of snorkelling supervisor, rescuer, first aid provider, guide and/or lookout. Snorkelling workers should be trained in the procedures required for particular snorkelling sites and their specific duties.

A snorkelling supervisor should be appointed to supervise snorkelling operations. Snorkelling supervisors should be experienced snorkellers and have experience for the area being supervised. Snorkelling supervisors should be able to instruct and advise snorkellers, recognise risks from snorkeller's abilities and behaviour and recognise environmental risks and hazards.

A lookout must be appointed at the snorkelling site when snorkellers are in the water and be solely engaged in that duty. They should have skills to effectively and efficiently scan and observe the snorkel area, including identifying people in distress and emerging hazards such as changing weather conditions. Lookouts must be able to communicate with other workers and direct or undertake rescues and give first aid if required.

A snorkelling guide takes groups of snorkellers on guided tours. A snorkelling guide should have the fitness and snorkelling skills to supervise a tour safely, including identifying people in distress and emerging hazards. Guides must be able to communicate with other workers and direct or undertake rescues and give first aid if required. If an assessment has been undertaking regarding the risks of conducting snorkelling without a lookout, a guide may be used in place of a lookout for groups of 10 or less snorkellers.

A Snorkel safety: a guide for workers (PDF, 3374.94 KB) is available for your use which details the roles and responsibilities for all snorkelling workers.

Last updated
05 December 2016