Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.
Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. (See this post for more information on this connection.) It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.
Occupation: DEEP SEA DIVER (COMMERCIAL)
Overview: Deep sea diving is the act of descending into water and remaining there for an extended time using a breathing apparatus. This type of diving is done for a variety of reasons: recreation, salvage, industrial work, and research, just to name a few. This entry will focus on commercial diving, specifically offshore diving (as opposed to inland diving). Offshore work is primarily done in the oil and gas sector, where a specially trained diver installs and repairs underwater equipment and piping in deep water. Some of this work may require saturation diving, which requires extended stays in a pressurized environment (usually a hyperbaric chamber on the surface, or an ambient pressure underwater habitat) to allow a diver to remain at lower depths for a greater amount of time. Divers may live in this type of chamber for a month at a time and get to the work site using a diving bell, a pod that maintains pressure. In teams of three, two divers work while a third monitors from inside in case a rescue is required. Ascending to a surface must be done slowly to avoid the bends.
Deeps sea divers will have a variety of tasks that may require special skills. Welding, underwater detonations, construction, installations and pipe-fitting, checking connections and inspections, pigging placement, troubleshooting malfunctioning equipment, overseeing operations such as trenching and pipeline stabilization, search and recovery, and running other specialized equipment all demand specialized knowledge by the diving team.
A diver in this field must be physically and mentally fit as the work is very demanding. It can be dangerous work Most commercial divers are on the younger end of the spectrum.
In a perfect world, all divers must have their commercial diving certification. (Some may not, depending on the area of the world they happen to work in, but in North America and many other developed countries, certification is demanded.) A basic, entry-level program may take about 2 months to complete, but more extensive programming will take anywhere from four to twelve months. To earn more advanced certifications a person will have to log hours in the field and on working dives.
Divers must have a strong command of physics, adhere to safety protocols (which include stringent safety drills) and have training in first aid, CPR, and know how to deal with and treat diving injuries and diseases. Offshore divers will also learn technical skills elsewhere that will directly factor into their work (welding, etc.)
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: basic first aid, carpentry, enhanced hearing, exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, high pain tolerance, knowledge of explosives, lip-reading, mechanically inclined, multitasking, photographic memory, regeneration, repurposing, strategic thinking, strong breath control, super strength, survival skills, wilderness navigation
Helpful Character Traits: Adaptable, adventurous, alert, ambitious, analytical, bold, calm, cautious, centered, cooperative, courageous, disciplined, efficient, focused, independent, industrious,intelligent, observant, persistent, proactive, professional, resourceful, responsible
Sources of Friction: Poorly maintained equipment, budge cutbacks, sharks and other dangers, getting the bends, a malfunction in a decompression chamber, malfunctions with air tanks or diving gear, friction with other divers one is stuck with in a small hyperbaric chamber or habitat, exhaustion, people who don’t follow safety protocols, companies that make demands that require prolonged diving times that are unsafe, industrial accidents, being told of an emergency at home (a child’s car accident, a house fire, a death in the family) but being unable to get home right away because of a saturation environment that requires a more prolonged decompression time, illnesses, heart attacks, claustrophobia
People They Might Interact With: other divers, project managers, ship employees, oil and gas employees, doctors, scientists, engineers
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs
- Esteem and Recognition: Women are not as common in this industry and so may run into sexual prejudice which could limit their ability to climb the ladder or have their abilities viewed through the same filter as a man’s.
- Love and Belonging: Divers are often away a month at a time, plus travel and this can put a strain on a relationship.
- Safety and Security: Many hazards and dangers could be brought into the story to hold your character back from fulfillment: a run-in with a shark that seeds in them a fear of death, a malfunction while diving that brings about deep fears of drowning or claustrophobia that are hard to shake, industrial accidents that could cripple your character, forcing them to mentally and physically push past barriers to continue in this field.
Common Work-Related Settings: beach, fishing boat, fitness center, marina, ocean, equipment room, decompression chamber, underwater settings, ambient pressure underwater habitat, hyperbaric chamber, underwater vehicles, diving bell, oil platform
Twisting the Stereotype: Make your deep sea diver a woman as they are much less common than men, or give your deep sea diver a crippling weakness or secret they must hide, like a fear of sharks, darkness, or even claustrophobia.