Stand out with kit maintenance skills
Dive technician Shaun Notley on employability in scuba diving.
A fair few years ago life was pretty good. I was managing a busy dive centre in the Maldives.
For those that have not worked there, it is a great location to save $$$ as it’s pretty much all-inclusive and the salary back then was comparatively good.
I eventually left seeking new challenges to complete my commercial diving tickets thinking I would never return, that was until I got an offer I could not refuse…
The dive centre I managed in the Maldives was part of a chain of dive centres – they had collectively around 12 high pressure compressors plus 4 low pressure compressors.
The machines started having more and more gremlins living inside them over time.
However, there was no attractive solution for their repair.
I of course agreed to their offer to return to work as their Corporate Dive Technician because…
My salary essentially doubled (yes, doubled) as a dive centre manager with PLENTY of other perks to the job!
The value of having kit maintenance skills is obvious from my story.
I would never have landed the lucrative job as their go-to maintenance guy without my experience.
8+ years background in dive equipment maintenance prior to my initial contact with the company had quite an impact.
Good reasons to become maintenance savvy
I understand many of you reading this may not ever want to follow this exact career path.
You might question the point of having maintenance related skills if all you dream of doing is 4 dives each day with the fishes.
Allow me to explain:
While writing a similar article to be presented to Pro’s and Pro candidates I did a little research.
I browsed various dive job listings on a popular job board.
The result was a list of all the desired traits that employers were asking for in their prospective employees.
Guess what? Maintenance skills popped up in 50% of the job adverts I saw.
What is sought after?
Replacing a mouthpiece or a worn hose certainly are forms of maintenance skills.
But is that the level that is sought after?
Of course not. I imagine most of those employers are looking for a little more than that…
Many claim knowledge in diagnosing faults with equipment.
How many have the actual experience, certification and expertise to back that up?
From my experience across multiple levels it is the minority within the industry.
Picture the busy dive centre in the middle of peak season.
Many of the potential hiccups can be quickly remedied.
For example replacing a problem Instructor, renting an additional boat or hiring a French speaking Instructor for a French guest influx.
What happens to operations when the compressor breaks down?
Or the increased use of equipment has given the shop more regulators in the “to be fixed” basket than are actually fit for use?
The trained maintenance professional is now a highly sought after asset to the dive operations continued success.
What do we class as maintenance?
What exactly are the employers looking for when they ask for maintenance skills?
Something more solid than a I’ve fixed a regulator before or I know stuff…
1 – Manufacturers repair clinic certificates.
Most manufactures repair clinics are basic in nature. They skip over basic workshop principles and fundamentals of equipment repair.
However, they are valuable for learning product ranges and tricks with certain models,
They are typically between half a day to 1 day long and often difficult to attend due to selective entry requirements.
They are certainly attractive if you hold the certificate for the particular brand of school equipment your prospective employer uses.
2 – Compressor maintenance skills
Professionals with the proven ability to safely use and maintain compressors and filling stations.
Think about it, when did you ever learn throughout your dive studies how to operate a filling station?
Throughout most agencies Divemaster / Instructor level training this is not within the syllabus.
You may have been fortunate enough to have been shown the ropes by an old salt but never received full on training and certification.
To help bridge this gap I wrote a unique approved Compressor Operator program covering operations and user level maintenance skills which I certify students to.
3 – Formal technician training / apprenticeships.
An apprentice type workshop experience is a fairly rare opportunity within this field.
The TQS Level 1 Scuba Technician class is an official technician course.
It gives you plenty of hands on experience on a variety of equipment and a certification.
- mechanical understanding
- troubleshooting skills
- workshop etiquette
- appropriate record keeping
- quality control
- access to an experienced mentor
- the Technicians Qualification System
…it provides students with a solid starting point to becoming a dive technician.
Qualification as a TQS Level 1 Scuba Technician can be followed by Level 2 certification.
After adequate experience they are very valuable indicators to prospective employers.
It shows clearly you have sat formal technician training. This helps you to set you apart from the competition.
4 – Gas blender, compressor operator and cylinder inspection
Classes like Gas Blender introduces oxygen cleaning protocols.
This combines well with compressor operator and technician qualifications.
Although this might not be as unique as some of the previous points.
However, in combination with other skills this can increase a candidates profile to an employer.
Cylinder inspection is also something that when combined with other skills shows to a potential employer you can bring that little bit extra to the table – or workshop.
5 – Equipment specialties from various agencies
You will notice I have not mentioned various agencies’ equipment specialties.
Realistically speaking they are a far cry from any of the above classes.
It shows often user only level maintenance skills. Perhaps it includes a regulator service demonstration.
It does give students the chance to explore new and different types of equipment. It should be made very clear that the class is not a service technician class.
For the ones who want to stand out
Of course not all individuals are mechanically inclined. Some don’t even wish to become involved in equipment maintenance.
For those who do, with the right training, experience and mindset, there are some bountiful opportunities that can open up out there.
As a dive professional, being able to offer more, better, can only help in you getting hired.
Maintenance skills can set you apart from the dive professional without any technician experience or supporting documents.
Employers seeking professionals with additional maintenance skills want reassurance the prospective employee can put their money where their mouth is.
Maintenance knowledge, skill development and certification via some of these classes is one way to help satisfy their concern, stand out from the rest and land that dream job!
Drop Shaun a message via his Facebook page to ask any questions.
Also published on Medium.