People With Energy News

Danger Money: Deep Sea Saturation Diving

Posted on August 25, 2017

Saturation diver

There’s a reason that commercial divers are some of the best paid individuals in the energy industry. The work is dangerous, it requires extensive technical training and there is a high demand for the divers’ services. Most recreational divers only go down a few feet: deep saturation divers may be required to dive as deep as 2000 feet! Let’s take a closer look at the training scheme and working life of a saturation diver.

What is saturation diving?

Saturation diving involves descending to the depths of the ocean in a small chamber and then living in the pressurised chamber for weeks at a time as it is raised and lowered to the work site. The divers only leave the chamber to work on deep-sea projects. Once the job is over, they still have to stay in the chamber as it slowly returns to a normal pressure for humans.

Why is it called ‘saturation’ diving?

You’ve probably heard of decompression sickness or “the bends”. When divers resurface too quickly, the nitrogen dissolved in their blood forms bubbles and this can be life threatening. Basically, the deeper you dive, the more stops you must make on your way back to the surface. But this rule only works up to the point where your blood becomes saturated with inert gases – after this point there is no increase in the number of stops you have to make on the way back up. As resurfacing is the dangerous bit, once your blood becomes saturated, you might as well stay at that pressure for a month and get on with the job.

What training is required to become a saturation diver?

You can’t start applying for saturation diving jobs just because you got your PADI certificate on a holiday to Thailand a couple of summers back. At the very least, you will need to have completed hundreds of hours of dives at a range of depths and a Closed Bell course that costs around £20,000.

What prospects are available for a qualified saturation diver?

The work is physically demanding and extremely well-paid. Despite it being very dangerous work, the possibility of high earnings makes it a very competitive field. Out of everyone who completes the training, barely 10% renew their medical the following year. 

How much can a diver expect to be paid?

Diving is one of the most lucrative jobs in the energy industry. A qualified diver working in the North Sea might command upwards of £1400 per day. It is not uncommon for an experienced saturation diver to take home £100,000 a year and it is a legal requirement that divers have a month off between jobs. This work truly deserves to be well-paid – it is considered so dangerous that many insurance companies refuse to offer life insurance to divers.

At People with Energy, we are specialist recruiters partnering people with the right skills with companies that are looking for them. If you represent a company that is looking for a deep-sea saturation diving team, talk to us. We know all the right people. You can call us on +44 (0)1502 509350 or you can email

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