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The Competence Process

This is the fourth article in the IMCA Competence and Training Committee’s Series “Understanding Competence”.

Previously, we have considered 3 questions:

  • What is Competence?
  • Why use a Competence Scheme?
  • Challenges to implementing a Competence Scheme.

In this article we will look at the end-to-end competence process and consider two different examples of how competence works in practice. We will consider a typical Offshore Industry competence process, that for an ROV Pilot/Tech.

We have previously identified 5 distinct activities which comprise the Competence process:

  • Pre-requisites – this could be medical, educational or trade requirements 
  • Learning – the gaining of knowledge, understanding, skill, ability and experience
  • Assessment process
  • Verification process
  • Recording and maintenance of competence records.   

In our private lives, we may have hobbies or activities which do not oblige us to conform with any standards or demonstrate any competence, however, if those activities involve other people who are not friends, family or well known to us then it is highly likely that we would require some form of licensing or certification. As an example, if you make your own cakes or ferment fruit to produce wine for your own consumption, you require no official permission. However, if you wish to sell your home produce, you are required to register as a business and comply with any local, national and international regulations which may include a food hygiene course and assessment.

A competence process demonstrates compliance with any regulation and measures understanding and ability against a standard set of expectations and helps to improve process safety to protect ourselves, colleagues and customers from accident or injury.

Competence process for an ROV Pilot/Tech

Pre- requisite:

  • Must have an appropriate Offshore Medical (OGUK) and safety course (OPITO BOSIET).
  • Although there is no official requirement to undergo an ROV training course, before you enter the ROV industry, it is highly likely that you would already be trained and qualified in an appropriate mechanical or electrical engineering discipline and specialise in mechanical, hydraulics, electrics, control systems, telecoms or sensors.     


Already experienced as above. Some formal ROV training should be undertaken, usually at an independent training school or internally with your company, this training should adhere to the guidance in IMCA R010,  Guidance on Module Outlines for ROV Related Training Courses, at the very least to understand difference between terrestrial and sub-surface system operations, particular safety concerns, pressure issues, water ingress, working environment, piloting and navigating an ROV, maintenance and recording systems requirements, LARS operations and interaction with the various vessel departments.

Initially working as a ROV trainee P/T, you would progress through several levels, increasing understanding knowledge and experience at each level, until you achieve Supervisor status and later Superintendent.


When formal ROV training has begun you will be enrolled in a company competence scheme (which follows the IMCA C005 Guidance on Competence Assurance and Assessment Remote Systems & ROV Division framework ), you should also obtain an IMCA ROV Personnel Logbook (Logbook 002) to record your maintenance, flying activities and competence record. To advance, in addition to being assessed as competent at your current level, you will be required to demonstrate 100 logged and supervised flying hours and 180 days working offshore.

Your assessor will be senior and experienced in the subject matter. Each stage of the assessment process will be explained to you and you will receive full feedback on your results and any suggestions or recommendations.

IMCA C007 Guidance on Assessor Training contains details for the training of Assessors.


The verification process ensures that the assessment process has been conducted correctly and is the quality assurance element of the competence process. The verification process may not be obvious to you but it will carried out in the background.

IMCA C016 Guidance on Verifier Training contains details for the training of Verifiers.

Recording and maintenance of competence records

It is vital that you complete and maintain accurate records of your flying hours, maintenance activities and your competencies. It is likely that these records will transfer from paper to digital media but these remain as evidence of your competence level and may be important when changing vessels or companies. Without evidence of your competence level, it may be necessary for you to revert to a lower level to demonstrate your competence or, in extreme cases, restart training.

Competencies are reviewed regularly, between 3 and 5 years, and your records will demonstrate continued working at your current assessed level.

The importance of maintaining accurate personal competence records cannot be stressed enough and may help prevent future issues.            

Making Waves


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