Is technical diving for me?

Today technical diving is more accessible than ever. But is it for you? Do you share the characteristics of successful technical divers?

This should help you decide.

A Technical Mindset

The popular image of a technical diver is an adrenaline crazed individual, dressed head to foot in black, foolhardily festooned with the contents of a small dive shop, launching himself into the depths without a thought for his own safety.

It could not be further from the truth.

The picture is reinforced by the common practice of defining technical diving in terms of the nature of the dive or the equipment used, such as diving deeper than 40m, using gases other than air, going inside a cave or a shipwreck or deploying multiple cylinders and rebreathers.

However, when divers armed with standard scuba gear plummet below 40m, swim down the corridor of a ship or don rebreathers, this does not make them technical divers.

The true definition of technical diving has far more to do with the attitude of the diver than the particulars of the dive. A technical approach to a dive involves analysis of the risks involved, the amount of gas required and the best equipment and gases to use. It also includes consideration of any potentially life-threatening events that might occur on the dive and an assessment of the skills and back up equipment that the diver will need to survive any such event.

To succeed and survive, a technical diver has to be thoughtful and attentive to detail, sometimes to an obsessive degree.


Most of the pioneers of technical diving were explorers driven to go further. They were people who wanted to set records, visit virgin shipwrecks, solve maritime mysteries or penetrate flooded cave systems.
Some of those that have followed share similar ambitions but there are also many who are simply motivated by gaining knowledge and developing their diving skills, by a desire simply to master their sport, to become better divers.


So, now that you know what it is all about, are you still on board?
If so, let's see if you are ready.
Here are what I see as the 8 major pre-requisites. If you can check all these boxes, your next step is to find a local technical diving instructor.
You should be:

1. Experienced

Bear in mind that the nature and quality of the diving you have done counts far more than the cards you hold or the number of dives you have logged. You need to have experience of a variety of environments and water conditions.

2. Self-Reliant

If most of your dives have been done under supervision, then making the transition to the technical world, where divers perform as independent parts of a mutually supporting team can be difficult. You need to be completely self-sufficient at your current diving level before you make the move up to technical diving.

3. Competent

Instinctive buoyancy control and mastery of basic scuba diving skills such as air sharing and emergency self-rescue are essential.

4. Disciplined

You have to be able to stick to a plan and abide by set procedures. While standard no-decompression single cylinder diving offers guidelines, technical diving has fixed rules based on physiological and physical limits. These rules need to be followed as if your life depends upon them, because it does. Technical diving mavericks do not tend to last long.

5. Meticulous

If you are the type of person who regularly jumps in without securing your BCD to the cylinder properly or turning your air on, then technical diving is unlikely to be for you. Ask your buddies do they privately think that you are an accident waiting to happen?

6. Responsible

Technical diving, by its nature, involves a higher level of risk. With that risk, comes responsibility. If you are careless you may lose your life and the impact of this can be enormous, for your family, your friends and the dive industry as a whole. Are you prepared to be responsible? Are the people who depend on you aware of the risk? Do they trust you to be responsible?

7. Fit

Technical divers carry more gear, swim further and stay underwater longer so you need to be in good shape. A key technical diving skill is being able to maintain a normal gas consumption rate under stress. This requires both mental and physical fitness.
And finally...

8. Financially Healthy

You need plenty of disposable income. Technical diving requires serious investment in training, equipment and travel. It is expensive and there are no short cuts at this level.

(Find out more in my books Scuba Confidential and Scuba Exceptional, both available in paperback, e-book and audiobook versions.)