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ROV Technician

Career Guide: How to become a ROV Technician


The marine industry, essential to global commerce and research, has innovative roles that intersect technology and adventure; among these stands the role of the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Technician. ROV Technicians operate sophisticated underwater robots that perform a variety of tasks from research and data collection to maintenance and repair. These professionals are critical in environments that are otherwise inaccessible to humans, such as deep-sea exploration, offshore oil drilling, and underwater infrastructure maintenance.

This comprehensive career guide delves into what it means to be an ROV Technician, outlining the pathway to entering this field, the skills and qualifications necessary, potential earnings, and the overall career outlook. Whether you are a student contemplating a thrilling career or a professional seeking a career shift, this guide presents essential insights into the life and work of an ROV Technician, helping you to understand the challenges and rewards that come with this unique and dynamic role.


What Is a ROV Technician?

An ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) Technician plays a crucial role in the deployment, operation, and maintenance of ROVs. These are uncrewed underwater robots that perform a variety of tasks in environments that are often inaccessible or too dangerous for humans. Predominantly used in the offshore oil and gas industry, ROVs are also crucial in scientific research, military, and salvage operations among deep-water settings.

ROV Technicians ensure that these sophisticated machines operate correctly and efficiently, performing tasks ranging from inspection and maintenance of underwater equipment to collecting scientific data or carrying out repair works. With the advancement in technology, the job of an ROV Technician is continually evolving, indicating a career that is not only about technical skills but also about staying updated with the latest technological advancements.

The job of an ROV Technician can be exceptionally demanding yet thrilling, often requiring work in diverse and challenging environments. This job role provides a unique combination of technology, adventure, and professional challenge, making it an appealing career path for individuals interested in marine technology and robotics.

Key Responsibilities of a ROV Technician

The role of a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) technician is critical in various industries, including oil and gas, underwater construction, and marine research. An ROV technician handles the operation and maintenance of ROVs—high-tech underwater robots used in deep-water environments. Here are the key responsibilities that define this role:

  • Operation of ROV Systems: ROV Technicians are primarily responsible for the piloting of ROVs. This involves navigating challenging underwater environments to perform tasks such as inspections, repairs, or sample collection.
  • Maintenance and Troubleshooting: Regular maintenance is essential to ensure that ROV equipment operates efficiently and reliably. Technicians must conduct pre- and post-mission checks and address any technical issues that arise, often under time-sensitive conditions.
  • Technical Support and Documentation: Accurate documentation of ROV missions is crucial. Technicians must log operational details, maintain records of maintenance activities, and compile reports on the findings or outcomes of diving missions.
  • Ensuring Safety: The safety of offshore operations is paramount. ROV technicians must adhere to strict safety protocols and contribute to safety meetings to mitigate risks associated with underwater operations.
  • Collaboration with Other Professionals: ROV technicians often work in teams that include engineers, scientists, and other specialists. Effective communication and teamwork are essential for the success of projects, particularly in complex or hazardous operations.

These key responsibilities highlight the multifaceted and challenging nature of the ROV technician's role, requiring a combination of technical expertise, problem-solving skills, and attention to detail. The ability to perform under pressure in remote and sometimes hostile environments is also crucial.

How Long Does it Take to Become a ROV Technician?

The journey to becoming a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) Technician can vary significantly depending on several factors including educational background, type and intensity of training programs, and individual capability. Generally, the timeline can range from a few months to several years. Below are some standard pathways and timeframes one might expect in this career trajectory.

Educational Path: The foundation for an ROV Technician often starts with a relevant educational background. Typically, having a high school diploma is essential, but pursuing further education such as an associate's or bachelor’s degree in electronics, mechanics, or marine science can provide a significant advantage. These degrees typically take about 2-4 years to complete.

  • Associate’s Degree: Approximately 2 years
  • Bachelor’s Degree: Approximately 4 years

Vocational and Technical Training: Post-secondary vocational and technical training in ROV operations provides practical and specific skills needed in the field. These programs can vary in length but generally range from 6 months to 1 year. They focus intensively on the hands-on skills necessary for ROV operations and maintenance.

  • Certificate Programs: 6 months to 1 year

On-the-Job Training: Most employers require new technicians to undergo on-the-job training. This type of training helps technicians familiarize themselves with the specific types of ROVs they will be operating, as well as the company's operational protocols. On-the-job training can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of the role and the technician’s previous experience.

  • Entry-Level Training: A few weeks to several months

Continuing Education: ROV technology and techniques are continually evolving, necessitating ongoing learning and skill development. Technicians will need to engage in periodic training throughout their careers to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and industry regulations.

In summary, the path to becoming a skilled ROV Technician can range from about 1 to 5 years, influenced primarily by educational choices and the specific training routes undertaken. Aspiring technicians should choose the path that best suits their educational background and career ambitions.

What are the Qualifications Required to Become a ROV Technician?

Becoming a ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) Technician requires a blend of formal education, specialized training, and certifications. Below, we explore the essential qualifications that aspiring ROV Technicians need to fulfill to embark on this career path.

Educational Background

An essential qualification for a ROV Technician is a strong educational foundation in relevant technical fields. Often, a diploma or an associate's degree in electronics, mechanical engineering, underwater welding, or similar disciplines is required. However, some employers might prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in marine science, ocean engineering, or robotic technology, depending on the complexity of the ROV operations.

Specialized Training and Certification

  • ROV Pilot Technician Courses: These courses are crucial as they provide hands-on training on the operation and maintenance of ROVs. Training typically covers ROV electronics, hydraulics, and piloting, with substantial practical sessions in controlled underwater environments.
  • Commercial Diving Certification: Although not always required, having a commercial diving certification can be advantageous, particularly for roles that require direct interaction with ROVs under water.
  • Technical Certifications: Gaining certifications in electronic or mechanical technician disciplines also boosts credibility and expertise, potentially leading to higher responsibilities and pay.

Health and Safety Qualifications

Working as a ROV Technician requires adherence to strict safety protocols because of the potentially hazardous environments involved. Technicians should possess certifications in offshore survival and emergency training, including courses approved by international bodies such as the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organization (OPITO). Familiarity with first aid and fire fighting techniques is also considered beneficial.


While there isn't a universal licensing requirement for ROV Technicians, certain regions or companies may need specific operational licenses. Always consult regional guidelines or potential employers to determine if additional licensing is needed.

In summary, the road to becoming a ROV Technician is paved through a combination of technical education, specialized training, and relevant certifications. A commitment to continual learning and skill development also plays a critical role in advancing in this field.

What are the Skills and Knowledge Required to Become a ROV Technician?

Becoming a successful ROV Technician requires a blend of technical skills, knowledge, and personal attributes. This role not only demands proficiency in operating and maintaining remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), but also a deep understanding of the environments these machines operate in. Here we break down the core competencies needed:

Technical Skills

  • Electrical and Mechanical Skills: ROVs are complex pieces of machinery that combine electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic systems. Technicians must be adept at diagnosing and fixing issues in these areas.
  • Operational Handling: Skillful manipulation of ROV controls is crucial, particularly in delicate underwater operations.
  • Maintenance and Repair: Regular checks and maintenance routines are essential to ensure ROV systems operate correctly and reliably.
  • Software Proficiency: Modern ROVs are equipped with advanced software for navigation, data collection, and operation management. Technicians need to be comfortable using these tools.

Underwater Environment Knowledge

Understanding the marine environment is vital for ROV Technicians. This includes:

  • Marine Biology: Knowledge of marine ecosystems can be critical when ROVs are used for environmental assessments or biological research.
  • Physical Oceanography: Understanding currents, waves, and tides can affect how an ROV is maneuvered and operated.
  • Underwater Navigation: Skills in sonar operation and interpretation, GPS, and other navigation tools are necessary to guide ROVs accurately under water.

Safety and Compliance

ROV operations often take place in hazardous environments. A thorough understanding of:

  • Health and Safety Regulations: Adhering to industry safety standards and protocols to ensure safe operations.
  • Quality Assurance: Ensuring that all operations comply with legal and environmental regulations.

Personal Attributes

Certain personal qualities will significantly enhance the performance of an ROV Technician:

  • Problem Solving: The ability to quickly identify problems and think through potential solutions is critical.
  • Attention to Detail: Small issues can quickly lead to major problems in complex ROV systems.
  • Communication Skills: Clear communication with team members and clients is essential, especially in explaining technical details and reporting issues.
  • Stress Management: Operating ROVs, particularly in challenging conditions, can be stressful. Being able to manage stress effectively is crucial.

While formal education provides the foundational knowledge, hands-on experience and continuous learning are vital for staying up-to-date with the latest technologies and methods in the field. Aspiring ROV technicians should seek opportunities for practical training and certification, which play significant roles in career progression.

How Much Does a ROV Technician Make?

The salary of a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) Technician can vary widely depending on a range of factors including experience, location, and the employing sector. Generally, entry-level ROV technicians can expect to start with a salary in the region of $35,000 to $45,000 annually. With experience, particularly those who advance into supervisory roles or specialize in complex ROV operations, salaries can increase significantly.

Experience Levels and Earnings:

  • Entry-level: Technicians just starting out generally earn between $35,000 and $45,000.
  • Mid-level: With several years of experience, or those with specialized skills, salaries can range from $45,000 to $80,000.
  • Senior-level: Highly experienced technicians, particularly those in supervisory roles or with advanced technical expertise, can see salaries upwards of $80,000, reaching towards $100,000 or more in some cases.

Geographic Variation:

Salaries for ROV technicians can also vary depending on the location of employment. Technicians working in regions with a high concentration of offshore oil and gas exploration, such as the Gulf of Mexico or the North Sea, tend to earn more due to the demanding nature of the work and the operational hazards involved.

Sector Influence:

The industry in which an ROV technician works also plays a critical role in determining income. Those employed in the oil and gas industry are generally among the highest earners, whereas technicians in the scientific research or military sectors may have different compensation structures, often with additional benefits.

Contract vs. Full-time Employment:

Many ROV technicians work on a contract basis, which can lead to variations in annual income based on factors like the duration of contracts, the intensity of the deployment season, and downtime between contracts. Full-time employees might earn less per day but benefit from more consistent work and company benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans.

In summary, the earning potential for an ROV technician is competitive and can increase substantially with experience and specialization. Navigating through career levels and industries appropriately is key to achieving higher salary brackets in this field.

Career Outlook for ROV Technician

The career outlook for ROV technicians is highly positive. This stems primarily from the growing reliance on remote-operated vehicles (ROVs) across various industries, including oil and gas, renewable energy, oceanographic research, and military operations. As technology advances and the need for underwater exploration expands, the demand for skilled ROV technicians continues to rise.

Renewable Energy Sector: The expansion of offshore wind farms and other marine-based renewable energy installations is significantly boosting the demand for ROV technicians. ROVs play a critical role in the maintenance and installation of turbines and underwater cables, which are pivotal in renewable energy generation.

Oil and Gas Industry: Despite a gradual shift towards renewable sources, the oil and gas industry still heavily relies on ROVs for drilling, repair, and maintenance work. Technicians are needed to manage these sophisticated machines to ensure the efficient extraction and transportation of resources.

Scientific Research and Conservation: ROVs are indispensable tools in marine biology, oceanography, and undersea environmental studies. They help scientists obtain samples from unreachable ocean depths and study the impacts of environmental changes, thereby creating opportunities for technicians in research institutions and conservation projects.

  • Government and Military: National defense strategies often include the use of ROVs for underwater surveillance, mine countermeasures, and salvage operations. This sector offers avenues for ROV technicians who are looking for careers in security and defense.
  • Underwater Filming and Tourism: The growing popularity of underwater documentaries and the leisure submersible industry also present unique employment opportunities for ROV technicians.

Overall, the advent of new industries and the expansion of existing ones signify a robust job market for ROV technicians. The continual evolution of underwater technology and the increasing ecological and societal push towards exploring and protecting the ocean's resources suggest a sustained need for expertise in this field. Consequently, for aspiring technicians, the field offers not just job stability but also opportunities for growth and diversification.

Finding Jobs as a ROV Technician

Finding employment as a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) Technician can be an exciting prospect, given the specialized nature of the role and its importance in various industries. Whether you're just starting out or looking to enhance your career path in ROV operations, here are several strategies that can help you secure a position in this field.

Industry Networks

Engaging in professional networks is crucial. Attend industry conferences, seminars, and workshops to connect with professionals in the field. Often, jobs are filled through networks even before they are advertised to the public.

Specialized Job Boards

Utilize job boards that cater specifically to the marine and subsea industries. Websites like Rigzone and OceanCareers offer postings that are highly relevant to ROV technicians. Additionally, general technical job boards like TechCareers can also yield opportunities.

Company Websites

Many companies post job openings directly on their websites. Identifying companies that use ROVs in their operations such as oil and gas extraction, underwater construction, and scientific research, and regularly visiting their careers page, can give you a direct route to new listings.

  • Utilize Recruitment Agencies: Some firms specialize in recruiting for offshore and subsea roles. Partnering with these can provide access to exclusive job openings and insights into skills most in demand.
  • Social Media Platforms: LinkedIn and similar platforms are terrific for finding jobs. They also offer the chance to showcase your skills and experience. Engage in relevant groups and discussions to increase your visibility.

Internships and Apprenticeships

If you’re new to the field, internships or apprenticeships can be invaluable. They provide hands-on experience, which is crucial for a practical job like an ROV technician, and can often lead to full-time employment.

Keep Skills Updated

As technology evolves, so does the need for updated skills. Continuous learning and certification in the latest ROV technologies and equipment can set you apart from other candidates and increase your employability significantly.

Freelance Opportunities

Consider freelance or contractual work which can often lead to permanent positions. This approach allows you to build a broader base of experience and show potential employers your skills first-hand.

In conclusion, securing a role as an ROV Technician requires a combination of the right skills, proactive job seeking strategies, and continuous professional development. Stay patient, persistent, and proactive in tapping into the myriad of resources and strategies outlined above.


The role of a ROV Technician is pivotal in industries such as offshore oil & gas, environmental research, and military operations. It offers a unique blend of technical challenges and the thrill of deep-sea exploration. As industries continue to rely more on underwater technology for a plethora of operations, the demand for skilled ROV technicians is expected to grow. This career not only allows for the development of highly specialized skills but also offers the opportunity to work in diverse environments around the world.

For those fascinated by robotics and the ocean, becoming a ROV Technician could be a rewarding career choice. With the right training and qualifications, combined with a commitment to continual learning and adaptation, ROV Technicians can enjoy a fulfilling and prosperous career. Being proactive, staying informed about technological advancements, and continuously upgrading skills are critical for long-term success in this field.

To anyone considering this as a career path, remember that the journey of becoming a highly competent ROV Technician is as challenging as it is rewarding. The field requires a commitment to safety, keen attention to detail, and a robust understanding of marine technology. However, the payoff in terms of career satisfaction, competitive salary, and the thrill of contributing to important underwater missions truly makes it worth considering.

Embark on a journey into the depths of the sea and help shape the future by exploring, repairing, and maintaining vital underwater infrastructure. Your career as a ROV Technician awaits!



Choosing a career as a ROV Technician can lead to many questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about becoming and working as a ROV Technician:

What is the most challenging aspect of being a ROV Technician?

The job can be physically demanding and often involves working in harsh and unpredictable marine environments. Additionally, the technical aspects of operating and maintaining sophisticated underwater equipment require constant learning and adaptation.

Do ROV Technicians need to know how to swim?

While swimming skills are not mandatory, being comfortable in marine environments is crucial. Water safety training is often provided during the certification process for ROV Technicians.

Are there opportunities for career advancement for ROV Technicians?

  • Senior Technician Roles: With experience, ROV Technicians can progress to senior positions, overseeing projects and managing teams.
  • Sector Specialization: Technicians can specialize in specific sectors like oil and gas, scientific research, or military applications, opening up more targeted career paths.
  • Consultancy and Training: Experienced technicians might move into consultancy roles or become trainers, sharing their knowledge with new entrants in the field.

What types of companies hire ROV Technicians?

ROV Technicians are employed by a variety of organizations, including oil and gas extraction companies, underwater construction firms, scientific research institutions, and government agencies involved in maritime affairs.

What is the work schedule like for an ROV Technician?

The work schedule can vary significantly. Many positions are based on project needs and might involve rotations of several weeks on-site followed by a few weeks off. These roles often require flexibility, as technicians might need to work different shifts and be on call for emergencies.

Is international travel a possibility in this profession?

Yes, ROV Technicians often have the opportunity to travel internationally, especially if they work for companies that manage global projects in industries like oil and gas or international marine research.

Can ROV Technicians work independently?

While teamwork is essential, especially on larger projects, there are opportunities for experienced ROV Technicians to undertake freelance or independent contractor work, particularly for smaller, specialized projects.

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