Employability of the Dive Professional: The Value of Maintenance
by Shaun Notley.
What do you think the most sought-after traits of a dive professional seeking a new role within the industry would be..?
I had a brief run through and tally-up of a popular diving jobs page and the results were as follows:
Sales ability and multiple languages popped up in 50% of advertisements, whereas employers seeking those who can teach a wide array of courses or ‘experienced’ professionals only 30%. Often little thought about, maintenance experience was present in 50% of the job advertisements.
Maintenance aside, lets first look at some of the other popular sought after skills employers seek in dive professionals:
Touched upon in an Instructor Development Course – learning how to link courses and sell equipment is vital for dive centres to flourish, even more so for those on commission based salaries.
Multi-linguists, depending on location, assist in increasing customer reach.
Experience obviously comes with time, arguably so too does an increase in the range of courses a dive professional can offer.
That leaves maintenance…
What do we class as maintenance?
Replacing a mouthpiece or a worn hose certainly are forms of maintenance, but is that the level that is sought?… 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; but how many have the actual experience, certification and expertise to back that up? From my experience across multiple levels within the industry,.. the minority.
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 when the increased use of equipment has given the shop more regulators in the ‘to-be-fixed’ basket that are actually fit for use?
The trained maintenance professional is now a highly sought after asset to the dive operations continued success.
So, what are the employers looking for when they ask for maintenance experience?
Something more solid than an “I’ve fixed a regulator before” or “I know stuff“…!
Manufacturer’s repair clinic certificates.
While valuable for learning product ranges and tricks with certain models, most manufacturers repair clinics are basic in nature, skip-over basic workshop principles and fundamentals of equipment repair. They are typically between half a day to 1 day long and often difficult to attend due to selective entry requirements.
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 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 have written a unique Compressor Operator program covering operations and user level maintenance to show and certify you in just that.
Formal technician training/apprenticeships.
As apprentice type workshop experience is a fairly rare opportunity within this field, another approach to getting plenty of hands-on experience on a variety of equipment and a certification to suit is to sit and pass a TQS Level 1 SCUBA Technician Course.
Whilst enhancing mechanical understanding, troubleshooting skills, workshop etiquette, appropriate record keeping, quality control and having access to an experienced mentor, the Technicians Qualification System provides students with a starting point to becoming a dive technician.
Qualification as a TQS Level 1 Scuba Technician followed by Level 2 certification after gaining adequate experience is valuable indicators to prospective employers that you have sat formal technician training and help set you apart from the competition.
Other classes; like Gas Blender, which introduces oxygen cleaning protocols, combine well with Compressor Operator and Technician qualifications. Although perhaps not as unique as some of the previous points, in combination with other skills can increase a candidates profile to an employer. Cylinder inspection is also something that when especially combined with other skills shows to a potential employer you can bring that little bit extra to the table – or workshop.
Of course, not all individuals are mechanically inclined, nor even wish to become involved in equipment maintenance but for those who do, with the right training, experience and mindset, there are some bountiful opportunities out there.
As a dive professional being able to offer more, better, can only help you getting hired – whether that is speaking 5 languages or being able to troubleshoot and effectively repair equipment.
Maintenance training sets you apart from the dive professional that fixed a couple of regulators last year or one that has knows equipment maintenance on their Resume without any certifications 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 these classes is one way to help satisfy their concern.
Remember, maintenance training is so special because it is not taught to everyone, by anyone.
About the Author
Shaun entered the recreational diving industry in the UK in 2001. Since that time he has worked within many roles in the industry, including; dive center owner and manager roles, full-time dive technician, compressor mechanic, recreational and technical diving instructor. He holds professional qualifications as a PADI TecRec and TDI technical diving instructor, DOL Class II commercial diver and TQS Technician Trainer.
He runs ProService Dive Repair in Subic Bay, Philippines, where he teaches a range of TQS regulator and compression technician training, TecRec gas-blending and his exclusive PADI Compressor Operator courses. He offers expert service in compressor servicing, maintenance & repair; along with a wide variety of commercial services including hull cleaning, anode replacement, video surveys, salvage and inspection.