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Amelia (Milly) Bartlem from Queensland, Australia shares her experience of training with The Underwater Centre, Tasmania; starting out in her career as an ADAS commercial diver and her advice to others who may be considering training for a new career, subsea.
‘I’ve always loved being outdoors, but it wasn’t until I did voluntary work with Marine Conservation Cambodia after high school that I actually tried diving for the first time. I was helping with seahorse and reef conservation and I couldn’t believe that I got to have this incredible experience of working underwater every day. I never thought about diving until I went there, and after that I didn’t want to do anything else!’
What kind of challenges were you looking for in your diving career?
‘I was passionate about diving and wanted to do a job I would love. I was really driven to find something that interested and challenged me. I realised that there was a real challenge not just in being a diver, but in becoming a great diver. That only comes with experience so I’ve got a long way to go.’
Why did you choose to train at The Underwater Centre, Tasmania?
‘I did a lot of research into the best place to train as a commercial diver and The Underwater Centre, Tasmania, stood out because of its great reputation and because of the comprehensive diver training it provided.’
Which of the Centre’s ADAS commercial diving courses did you take?
‘I opted to do the Premium Package Commercial Air Diving Course, which covered ADAS (Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme – which is internationally-recognised) Parts 1, 2, and 3 and also gave me important subsea construction skills, plus training on the Kirby Morgan helmet to help my employability and make sure I was as ready for industry as possible.
I chose this combined course because it made sense to me to complete the ADAS Parts 1, 2 and 3 Courses at the same time so that I was fully qualified. It also saved me time and money doing it that way.’
‘I love it! It’s awesome there. The facilities and staff there are incredible. I did find it cold as I did my training in winter (a bit of a change from Queensland) but I got used to it and that also helped me prepare for my career! The staff at the Centre have really been my support team while I’ve been away from home and they’ve got me to the point where I’m industry ready.’
How has your training at The Underwater Centre, Tasmania, helped your diving career?
‘I really appreciated the fact that they gave me a realistic view of the subsea industry. They don’t sugar-coat things for you and they make you work hard for your own benefit. They know you can dive when you get there; what they do is teach you how to be the diver that you need to be for industry. I was pushed to be the best I could be and had the best mentors to start me off on this subsea career.’
Can you tell us about your typical day as a commercial diver?
‘I’m sure everyone says this but it’s true – there’s really no such thing as ‘typical’ in this job! There’s always something new to learn or another challenge in a job that we need to figure out. The variety of work that I’ve been exposed to in a short time in the industry has been really awesome.’
What do you enjoy most about working as a commercial diver?
‘The diving!! I love doing the thing that I’ve dreamed about for a long time and I like the physical aspects of the work I do. I learn something new every day and that’s definitely a highlight of my job.’
What don’t you like so much?
‘Well I don’t really like it if we have too much down time during the day because of delays or difficulties on a job. Once I’m there and ready I like to get into it, so I do find that frustrating sometimes. I also don’t like hearing too much about the awesome jobs other people are on because I know I’ll have to wait a while until I get a go.’
Would you encourage others to work in the subsea industry as a commercial diver?
‘Yes, if you’re really interested and willing to work hard for what you want to achieve. It can be a great career path and you can earn a good living and live comfortably. But like everything, you’ll only get out what you put in. You need personal drive to make your qualifications work for you in the industry.’
How easy is it to get work?
‘I think that depends on yourself and how much you chase this career. It’s a people industry – it’s those around you who can help you get places because they know you, know what your attitude is like and how you work. Nothing gets handed to you, you have to prove yourself and your value to the team.
‘I’ve had some great experience with diving work so far; in and around Melbourne, as well as work in the renewables industry, including cable repairs and surveys. It’s the variety of the work that I love so much!’