Diver Exploits: In Midlife, Eric Makes a Career Switch

eric commercial diver

At 47 years old, I was after a complete change of career.

I worked for over 20 years in the motor trade as a mechanic and business owner. I decided to take the plunge and train as a commercial diver. I looked into training at both The Underwater Center in Fort William and Professional Diving Academy (PDA) in Dunoon. I picked PDA, as both the course and accommodation costs were lower. In addition, Dunoon was only two hours drive from my home in Edinburgh.

All in: Professional Diving Academy

I signed up for the Premier Career Package with PDA. This included training in some of these areas:

  • HSE Professional Scuba
  • HSE Surface Supply
  • HSE Surface Supply top up
  • HSE First Aid with O2 provider
  • Kirby Morgan Helmet and Band Mask Maintenance Cert
  • SQA Subsea Construction and Inspection
  • Subsea Mechanical Lifting and Rigging
  • Subsea Burning &¬†Welding
  • Hydratight Subsea Mechanical Joint Integrity
  • RYA Power Boat Level 2

Tools for the Job

diver exploits diving umbilicals

The course lasted 11 weeks there in the Clyde. Their facilities were good, and they had two dive tanks for practicing and real life application purposes. The small tank was used for underwater welding, and we spent time in the larger tank during our lifting, rigging and Hydratight training.

Diving Equipment

To get used to working with our equipment we donned an Divator (AGA) full face mask, and we practiced with several Kirby Morgan hard hats and band masks.

Facilities & Vessels

There were two decompression chambers with entry locks; one in the college and the other on board the 38 meter dive vessel, MV Sleat. The majority of the diving was carried out in the Clyde on board the MV Sleat at Dunoon pier or one of the many other boats. The MV Sleat was equipped with an air diving cage, wet bell and hot water suit delivery systems.

Guidance: Listening & Learning

dive equipment cage

The instructors were all quite knowledgeable, and many were former Royal Navy divers. They were all very helpful and easy to get on with making the trainng most enjoyable.

Personally I found the training relatively easy Рmentally and physically Рand I had no problems diving to depths of up to 50 meters. I was a PADI trained scuba diver with 200+ logged dives before starting commercial diving training. There were 14 students on the courses many of them had never dived before.

I completed the training in October of this year, and so far the only diving work I have had is scallop diving, but I’m hoping for more work in the new year.


Eric Prentice trained at Professional Diving Academy in 2014 and completed the¬†Premier Career Package. With a solid reputation, mechanical and diving experience, he’s hoping for a rewarding career in the diving industry.