Professional divers carry out various types of tasks below water, often involving some kind of specialization.

Professional divers are often divided into three categories:

  1. Industrial divers who work mainly in repairs and salvage.
  2. Occupational divers where diving is part of occupational training, for example firefighters, police and investigative divers.
  3. Professional sport divers who mainly work teaching sport diving to amateurs and guiding tourists underwater.

Part of a diver’s work takes place on dry land in preparation for a dive and for the safety of those working underwater.

Professional divers often travel, and their tasks can be varied, both within Iceland and abroad. The job title is legally protected in Iceland, and therefore only those who have the required qualifications can call themselves professional divers.

There is a shortage of Icelandic professional divers with Class F and D qualifications, for example in connection with fish farming in sea pens and with tourism companies that offer diving and snorkelling trips.

Main tasks
  • practical activities in ports, sewers and ships
  • underwater repairs for fish farms and fisheries
  • salvaging valuables from the sea or lakes
  • search and rescue operations
  • photography and filming
  • teaching and guidance
  • marine research
  • archaeological research
Competence requirements

As a professional diver, it is good to be able to work independently and meticulously. You are likely to encounter unexpected challenges that require adaptability, for example in situations where space is limited and lighting is poor. Divers also need to be able to work well in a group with others.

A diver needs to be in good mental and physical shape, and various illnesses and ailments can prevent a person from becoming a diver.

Checklist for those who are considering studying professional diving

  • Is the school’s certification recognized by Samgöngustofa (the Icelandic Transport Authority)?
  • Where does the certification apply?
  • Am I healthy enough to dive?
    • Do I have swelling in my ears?
    • Do I see and hear well enough?
    • Is my physical shape good enough?
    • Is my mental health good enough?
    • Are there any ailments that can prevent diving?

In order to be a professional diver, one must complete a special diving test.

Industrial diving is not taught in Iceland, but many industrial divers have studied in Scotland or Norway. You can go through multiple levels of training, as knowledge and training increases with each level. You can acquire a basic qualification and later add a specialization such as:

  • Underwater welding
  • Saturation diving at unlimited depth
  • Diving with supplied air

Many foreign schools issue internationally recognized professional diving qualifications. Some of the qualifications apply regionally, for example only in Europe or in Asia. It is important to familiarize yourself with where the qualifications apply before commencing studies.

Occupational diving qualifications require specific training. Courses have been held in Iceland. Most often, these are closed courses intended for a limited group of students from particular workplaces. Many occupational diving courses taught in Iceland are not internationally recognized, even if they use the curriculum of recognized foreign schools.

Professional sport diving qualifications can be obtained in Iceland from sport diving instructors.

The study program begins by learning sport diving, but then adds courses to gain the right to study at the first level of professional sport diving. In order to obtain this right, you must have completed 60 registered dives. At the end of the course, you can apply for a Class F professional diver qualification at Samgöngustofa and the title of Dive Master. A diver can add teaching qualifications in order to obtain a Class D qualification from Samgöngustofa and the title of Open Water Dive Instructor.

Professional sport diving qualifications are issued by internationally recognized diving organizations that have an ISO standard curriculum. Divers with this qualification can work in tourist diving services from the age of 18 in almost all countries, but from the age of 20 in Iceland.

The main international sport diving organizations that issue professional sport diving qualifications:

  • PADI – Professional Association of Diving Instructors
  • SSI – Scuba Schools International
  • CMAS – Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques

Samgöngustofa monitors those who offer courses in professional diving and issues professional diver certificates in Icelandic and English. Professional diver certificates from Samgöngustofa are not internationally recognized.


Prerequisites for professional diving in Iceland:

  • Being 20 years of age
  • Meeting health requirements
  • Meeting educational and qualification requirements
  • Having a valid professional diving certificate issued by Samgöngustofa

 There are six different classes of professional certificates:

  • A – permits saturation diving at unlimited depth
  • B – permits diving with all equipment down to a depth of 50 meters
  • C – permits SCUBA diving to a depth of 30 meters without decompression equipment
  • D – provides qualification to teach recreational diving
  • E – intended for students of professional diving
  • F – permits guiding dives and surface diving with tourists
  • G – other forms of diving
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