The variety of occupations requiring scuba divers can be extreme, with salaries to match. I discuss all in my guide to scuba diving salaries explained.
What do scuba diving jobs pay? As in any industry, there can be significant differences and this may affect the career path you choose.
Take this as your guide to average expected salaries for different types of jobs involving scuba diving worldwide. Would you feel comfortable earning these wages if it lets you explore the underwater world?
Dive Instructor Scuba Diving Salaries By Location
Having your scuba diving instructor certification opens up employment opportunities in all parts of the world. This is one of the most popular jobs in the diving industry and also one of the more flexible.
Although you have plenty of choice in location, the salaries are highly dependent on where in the world you choose to work. These averages per region may give you more insight.
Even within the United States, there is a wide range in diving career salaries. For example, dive instructors in California earn much more than other states on the mainland and Hawaii has even higher averages.
The type of place you work at will also make a difference. For example, high-end resorts and liveaboard cruises can offer more than small independent dive schools.
Because each European country has its own regulations on the minimum wage, just like the USA, what you earn will depend on where you work. For example, there tend to be higher salaries in Malta than in Spain.
It is also worth noting that you should keep in mind that there can be quite a difference in living costs. Not just in the European country as a whole, but also between cities and rural areas.
In Asia a dive instructor’s work is generally seasonal, matching the tourist high season. Which does mean that many dive instructors will move to another employer after just a few months. With that being said, that can’t be all bad, as it allows you to travel and see the world.
Keep in mind that salaries here are generally lower compared to the US and Europe. However, living costs are considerably lower and many dive centers give free accommodation.
Your experience level and location will affect your salary greatly when working in Australia. On average, Australian salaries are quite high compared to other countries but the living costs are also higher.
Unfortunately, you’ll mainly find that the opportunities are limited to internship positions and entry-level jobs. Meaning that it will be more than likely that you have to work your way up the ladder.
Unlike many other countries featured in this blog, recreational scuba diving is not quite as popular in the Middle East. However, there are still some opportunities to be had. Average salaries in the diving industry are not high but commercial diving positions may offer greater salaries.
With that in mind, it’s worth noting that rent can be quite expensive in the Middle East, especially compared to other living costs.
Instructor Scuba Diving Salaries By Job Type
Unlike the divemaster who leads, an instructor teaches. However, don’t think that teaching beginner open-water courses is the only job you can get as a scuba dive instructor. There are not only job opportunities in recreational diving, but many different industries and niches.
If you are training divers for a commercial diving career, you will likely earn more. This is because a more specialized skill set is required, along with the use of specialized equipment.
The popularity of working at a dive resort is huge, with many divemasters wanting to teach at them. Therefore a lot of opportunities to be had are likely to be an entry-level start.
Be that as it may, depending on where you work, your employer might offer you other benefits. This could be accommodation and meals, but remember, this is often as compensation for a lower salary.
A great way to experience a diving vacation is on one of the numerous liveaboards that are available worldwide. Creating the opportunity for another of the extremely sought-after positions for dive guides and instructors. Although the salary is not spectacular, daily expenses such as accommodation and meals are already covered by the liveaboard operator.
Overall, a pretty good deal in my book. Above all, being a professional diver on liveaboards is a great way to travel and meet other enthusiastic scuba divers but expect long hours.
Although many dive resorts have a dive school, there are also stand-alone training centers. These can be found in urban areas and usually make use of a swimming pool instead of open water.
Therefore giving you opportunities in more locations to start your career as an instructor. As a matter of fact, there may even be a center somewhere near you.
Military Dive Instructor
With this job title, it is your job to train army or navy personnel as a scuba diver. This involves a lot more intense training than you would give for recreational diving. And, since you have to deal with more hazardous situations and equipment, this job is usually part of a military career so it can take several years to reach.
You will require a strong background in engineering to instruct commercial divers, and most likely a university degree. It is highly skilled work which is why salaries tend to be substantially higher.
In addition to the higher pay package. The chances are that, as the instructor, you likely won’t be sent off to the remote oil rigs where the commercial divers work.
As a management instructor, you have a double role. You not only teach beginner divers, but you will also be responsible for coordinating the other instructors. This type of work entails general management skills along with the obvious diving expertise that you have to offer.
In reality, it may help to get management experience or certification. Without it, you may find that you have to work your way up the ladder.
If you would like more control over your work hours, you can consider becoming a private instructor. Although this is a career path that offers more flexibility, you will have to build a reputation and make connections. Therefore you do need to be in a position to wait for the full potential to reveal itself.
You can try to compensate for the inconsistent pay with work in underwater photography or other side gigs.
Types of Scuba Diving Jobs & Their Salaries
Beyond dive instructor jobs, you can have a diving career in other niches. For some of these jobs being a scuba diver is more of an extra skill rather than a core activity.
Again, commercial divers generally earn more than jobs in recreational diving and the salary may vary in different parts of the world.
Public Safety Diver
Like with military diving, you usually have a regular service salary and get additional pay for time spent underwater. Here, where you live makes a big difference.
Average annual salary: $45,000
In most cases, military-certified divers have regular service and get special duty pay for the days spent underwater. This is a career where experience will get you more pay.
Average annual salary: $30,000
There are many different positions in the commercial diving industry so salaries may differ. For example, underwater welders may earn more than ship cleaners.
Average annual salary: $60,000
Dive Shop Owner / Manager
Salaries will vary a lot depending on the size of the business and this is also one of the diving jobs where you might not spend much time underwater. This is a good idea for your own business.
Average annual salary: $50,000
You will need a university degree for this scientific diving job but this often also means a higher salary. Your salary depends on the type of institution you work for.
Average annual salary: $52,000
There are many different niches you can specialize in as a scientific diver, so there is also more variance in pay. Most work for private companies within a different industry.
Average annual salary: $30,000
Many underwater photographers work as freelancers so the money you get depends a lot on the type of clients you work with. This can also be a part-time job making it pretty flexible.
Average annual salary: $30,000
Since most archeologists work for research institutions, the salary is often dependent on grants and the salary is slow to rise. Hence, the big gap between entry-level and top earners.
Average annual salary: $30,000-$90,000
Golf Ball Diver
This is a surprisingly well-paying job but this has to do with the high day rate of approximately $120-$200. How much you earn will depend on how many golf courts are your clients.
Average annual salary: $50,000
People Also Ask (FAQs)
In the diving industry, wages are never guaranteed but the above averages may give you better insights into what your skills will earn you. Here are a few more clarifications about scuba diving jobs salaries.
What is the highest-paying diving job?
On average, commercial divers have the highest paying diving job, especially when working in dangerous conditions. Examples include a career as a HAZMAT diver (hazardous materials), an offshore diver for oil and gas companies, or a saturation diver.
Do scuba divers make good money?
How much you get paid as a scuba diver really depends on the skills you are to have. If you have earned a university degree for the profession, work in hazardous situations, etc. You likely earn more than a scuba instructor at a dive school.
Is it worth becoming a scuba instructor?
Because many jobs and travel opportunities come with being a scuba instructor, it is well worth it. You can take your career in many directions and you will have highly specialized skills.
If you want to live a life underwater then these diving jobs may help you do just that. Think about how much you would need to get paid to live comfortably before you work towards the right certification.