Scuba Diving Jobs Explained - Salaries, Hours, and Lifestyles (2023)

Do youlove divingand being in the water? How would it feel to have that passion as your full-time employment?

If you want to know the salary of a diving instructor or need some ideas foremployment opportunities in the diving industry, we’ve got the answers.

Please Note:All salaries are average and yearly, unless otherwise stated.Whilst we have GTS members all over the world, a large percentage are based in the US and therefore many of these roles and salaries are US based. Some additional countries are explored later in the article.

Interested inGirls that Scuba members’ salariesin different scuba and ocean jobs? We reveal 16 of them here.

Can you really work as a scuba diver?

The good news is that if you seriously love diving, it is entirely possible to make a good living out of it.The caveat is that, as with any occupation that people get into because they love, it requires considerable work to get to that point and then make more than a minimum wage.

Starting out, you are going to be at the bottom for a while. Many others are vying for the same vacancies and so entry-level work is badly paid. The good news is that most give up at that point or they settle on entry–level only.Put a little extra work in achieving more qualifications and training and watch the competition fall behind.

What if I don’t want to be an instructor?

Scuba Diving Jobs Explained - Salaries, Hours, and Lifestyles (1)

Ascuba diving instructorisnot the only position available, and gaining a complementary qualification will expand your scope and earning potential. For example, you could gain a marine science degree or mining engineering degree.

However, teaching scuba diving is one of the more accessible entry-level positions for those hoping to make a living in diving. Now let’s talk about what salaryyou can expect as a scuba diving instructor. Do different locations or different jobs make a difference to salary?

Variance in Scuba Diving Salaries Reported

There is a huge variance in salaries reported for scuba diving instructors because different types of organisation will pay vastly differing amounts.

(Video) Scuba Diving Instructor Salary - How much do scuba instructors make?

A boutique dive school in Hawaii might offer considerably higher rewards than one in Mexico or on a cruise ship for example. At US dive resorts the pay for an experienced diving instructor is approximately $23,000. For new scuba instructors this salary is reducedto around $20,000.

Like any career, someplaces will pay higher salaries. Generally themore challenging the environment and the harder the teaching, the higher the salary. Working for dive resorts and hotels can be poorly paid, despite these operations charging high rates to customers. This is because they generally have high overheads elsewhere in their businesses.

Dive schools have a similar issue – their costs are lower, but the fees they charge are very competitive. This means that once again margins are tight. They also often have a good supply of newinstructorsfrom their own Instructor Development Courses, as these are highly profitable for dive schools to run.

Thiscreates a “race to the bottom” atmosphere. New instructors are desperate to take any role to gain that all important experience, and dive shops are then over-run with fresh instructors who are more willing to be paid poorly.

Private teaching, if you can find it, tends to be better paid. However this is often challenging as visas are difficult to obtain for this type of work in popular dive destinations.

Scuba Diving Jobs Explained - Salaries, Hours, and Lifestyles (2)

Average Hourly, Monthly, and Annual Dive Instructor Salaries

An hourly rate might begin as low as $5-10 an hour for an intern and move up to around $30 for someone with specialty instruction skills and ratings.

An average of $16 is realistic for most positions once you have a little experience, however many report earning far less than $10 while starting out.

Some things to be aware of while starting out

Some internships or junior positions at resorts expect you to be at work long hours. However, you are often only paid for the actual time with clients. Because of this, take-home pay can vary considerably, as can your effective hourly rate.

To give an example – as a dive instructor you may be expected to be at the office and available during working hours, but youcould only be paid $10 per billable hour. Often, you might end upbeing at work for 50 or 60 hours, while billable hours are only 20 to 30 hours, resulting in effectively working for $5 an hour or less. As a result, take-home pay can start around $6000 as a part-time instructor or intern.

(Video) The REALITY of Scuba Diving Jobs in 2020 😅

Rewards for getting through the pain barrier

For those that do well, this can move up to around $84,000 – $100,000 as a highly skilled contractor, management instructor, or specialist.

Most instructors will earn between $18,000 to $36,000, and while this is not great you are doing a job you love, accommodation can be included, and there are chances for progression as experience grows.

Annual salaries start around $20,000 and move up to the low six figures, although this is rare, and would apply more to specialised industries such as defence or mining.

Scuba Diving Jobs Explained - Salaries, Hours, and Lifestyles (3)

Working Conditions and Costs for Dive Instructors

For mostDivemasters, work is often tourism related and seasonal. Since salaries can drop in the low season, to find consistent well-paid work dive instructors often have to move locations throughout the year.

Another point to note is that instructors at resortscan be treated more like contractors than permanent employees.This means that usually, a dive instructor will need to pay for his or her own insurance, health care, and pension. You may also need to work out your own taxes and potentially organise your own visa.

If you develop a good relationship with the employer, chances are you will get consistent recurrent work, however, there is still no hard guarantee of stability.

Average Dive Instructor Salaries by Location

Although not everyone loves to travel and there are possibilities of finding jobs at home, being willing to travel will increase your opportunities to earn.

Of course, some countries pay better than others and you should always take into consideration the cost of living in the country you plan to work in.


Dive instructor salaries in the USA average around $36,000, and can be as high as $100,000. Upmarket schools and resorts in areas like Hawaii or California have the potential for better tips and commissions than budget locations.

(Video) Jobs that pay over $100K #shorts


There are many diving options available in schools and tourist destinations inAustralia.There are some working visa options available if you study there for a certain period, so it may be worth considering if you are looking for at completing your dive certifications. For futureopportunities, considercombining this training with a degree which will open up even more doors.

Remember that while rates of pay in Australia are pretty good the cost of living is also exceptionally high,particularlyaccommodation. As an Australian dive instructor you can expect to earn $15-25 AUD ($10-15 USD) per hour or around $150-200 AUD ($100-150 USD) per day. How many days a week or month? You will only know by asking the employer.

Middle East

Compared to other locations, the salaries of dive instructors in the Middle East are relatively low.Instructors have reported average rates are 60,000-84,000 AED ($18,000-24,000 USD per year) in a resort where accommodation is included.

Rates may be slightly higher if you can access private employers, government positions, or high-end schools.Again remember that accommodation rental is quite high in the Middle East due to the large ex-pat populations that are restricted to renting and employer-housing schemes.

The good news is that other costs of living are not that high, however, this salary will only provide a relatively basic lifestyle.


InThailanddive instructors can expect anywhere between 30,000 to 60,000 THB per month, again equating to around $10,000-$24,000 USD per year which seems to be a common figure.

This will vary with the high and low season as pay is often per student or per dive, however, remember that the cost of living is relatively cheap in Thailand outside of resorts. This can often offer a comfortable lifestyle.The Philippinesoffers similar opportunities.

Countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka are all expanding their diving tourism, following in the footsteps of Thailand’s successes.

While many parts of Thailand have become quite commercial, the ‘off the beaten track’ type will appreciate the less commercial aspects of these other parts of Asia.

Scuba Diving Jobs Explained - Salaries, Hours, and Lifestyles (4)
(Video) Most crucial skill for a career in scuba diving

Salaries for Scuba Instructors by Employer Type

Resorts and Cruise Ships

The average for a resort or cruise ship worldwide seems to be around $18,000-$24,000 (USD). While the salary is low, the very low cost of living is a benefit.Accommodation is usually included, meals may be included or at least subsidised, and taxes are generally minimal at sea. This allows you to save a significant sum of money during a season.

Dive Schools

Depending on availability of work, you may be part-time, and the rates could be as low as $6000 (USD per annum).Dive schools are often a starting out point for new instructors, and as stated before that while the work is tough, at least you are gaining experience.Tips for great service can also boost your salary.

Military Dive Instructor

If military life appeals to you, the gruelling physical work and challenging selection process to become a Navy Diving Instructor can be incredibly rewarding in both salary and benefits.

A navy dive instructor is an officer commission and would bring a salary of around $60,000 -$84,000. According, the US navy is one of the biggest employers of divers.

Private Instructor or Specialty Instructor

Once you specialise in different skills, such as photography, underwater maintenance, mine diving, course coordinator, or boat master, the salary expected can increase significantly.

Finding private clients or businesses where personal dive services are needed can be better paid. Salaries can be potentially range from $48,000-$85,000 or more.

Management Instructor

A dive coordinator, training coordinator, or course director are advanced courses available for experienced instructors.While these positions involve a mix of diving and office work, they also offer the chance to earn a slightly higher salary than a line instructor and salaries can range from $35,000 to $70,000.

Commercial Diving

Asides from instruction there may be a variety of commercial activities that require a dive instructor rating, which can increase earning capacity.

These types of jobs usually need training in additional skills you can perform underwater, and often require an initial expense on specialised courses. Median rates for an experienced commercial diver are higher than most at around $58,000 a year.

Summary of Scuba Diving Salaries

While salary is an important factor to all of us, it should never be your only motivation for becoming a scuba diving instructor.You need to both love the work, embrace the responsibility of your task, and understand the competitive and physical nature of the industry.

(Video) ✨Dream Job✨ things

If you are okay with this, then how good you are at your job andat marketing yourself, and how willing you are to move for greatopportunities, will determine your success in earning a high salary.

Please note salaries are estimated, and could actually be a lot lower as scuba diving becomes more popular and more jobs become available. Not many of us are in it for the money!


How many hours does scuba diving take? ›

- Usually, you can spend anywhere between up to 40-60 mins underwater depending on your breathing rate, the depth you are diving to, and the dive conditions.

How do people make a living in diving? ›

  1. 1 Work as an instructor or dive guide.
  2. 2 Take underwater pictures or videos for tourists and other divers.
  3. 3 Find lost or abandoned items underwater.
  4. 4 Clean up pools for your neighbors or hotels.
  5. 5 Dive for golf balls at country clubs.
  6. 6 Work as a local dive guide at Social Diving.
  7. 7 Work as a commercial helmet diver.

Can you make a living off scuba diving? ›

Can you really work as a scuba diver? The good news is that if you seriously love diving, it is entirely possible to make a good living out of it. The caveat is that, as with any occupation that people get into because they love, it requires considerable work to get to that point and then make more than a minimum wage.

How many hours does a diver work? ›


Usually work about 40 hours a week. May work overtime to meet deadlines or help with emergencies. May work only part of the year. In some areas, commercial divers do not work in the winter.

What is the maximum age for scuba diving? ›

There is a basic age requirement of 8 or 10 years old for junior programs, however, there is no maximum age limit for scuba diving.

What do divers do for a living? ›

Divers undertake a range of work activities underwater, from our oceans and rivers, to our ports and harbours. They work in fields as varied as scientific research, military maintenance and repair, offshore or onshore construction, aquaculture and police search and rescue.

How do I turn my scuba diving into a career? ›

Contact your local PADI Dive Center or Resort and to learn more about becoming a PADI Professional. Some dive shops host special events where you can meet local dive professionals and learn about their career path. You can also read interviews with people in a variety of full-time scuba jobs on our website.

Do scuba divers make good money? ›

How much do scuba divers make? Divers make a national average salary of $49,602 per year according to Indeed Salaries where salary averages are frequently updated.

Is scuba diving declining? ›

Even though water sports overall had an increase in U.S. participation rates during 2021, the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, scuba diving participation decreased by 8.8 percent from 2019 to 2021.

Are scuba divers in high demand? ›

Approximately 4,000 commercial divers are working in the United States, and they are in high demand! These underwater professionals build, maintain, and repair underwater structures such as oil rigs and bridges. Divers are a vital resource to maritime industries and have a lot of responsibility.

Can you make a living as a divemaster? ›

Being a divemaster is a professional activity that can become an amazing job that takes you all over the world, or here to Indonesia to start. But most of the time it's not financially sustainable as a full-time job, so it can make a really great seasonal job that you can do for periods at a time.

How long do saturation divers live? ›

As a saturation diver, you are submerged in the water in a small pressurized chamber. The diver lives for 28 days in this small topside chamber.

Why are saturation divers paid so much? ›

The demand for saturation is minimal and competitive, which means employers sometimes offer higher wages to attract more candidates. Most commercial divers charge a daily rate in addition to a 'depth pay. ' This compensation refers to how many depths you travel beneath the water and usually increases every 100 feet.

What is diving duty pay? ›

Diving Duty Pay Rates (All Services)
Master Diver$340
Diver First Class$215
Salvage Diver$175
Diver Second Class$150
3 more rows

How many hours a week do divers train? ›

Most divers start at a young age. Depending on the level of the athlete training sessions may range from one session per week to multiple sessions in a day. Elite divers train in excess of 20-30 hours per week. These may cover repetition of dives, dry land training and weight training.

Do divers shower after each dive? ›

Divers shower in between dives typically just to keep themselves and their muscles warm,” he says. They usually rinse off in water that's warmer than the pool.

What is the average age of a diver? ›

Scuba Diver Age Breakdown

Interestingly enough, the average age of scuba divers is 40+ years old, which represents 57% of the population.

Is 70 too old to scuba dive? ›

Officially, there is no upper age limit, but diving is an extreme sport and therefore we must take into consideration the aspects of physical health and mental ability that may change as we get older. Diving is a strenuous activity, especially before and after the dive when hauling heavy equipment around.

Is there a weight limit for scuba diving? ›

Does Scuba Diving Have a Body Weight Limit? No, there are no scuba diving weight limits. At least, there is no official bodyweight limit. Diving is an inclusive sport, it can be done by anyone from 13 years old and up regardless of age, weight, or size.

Is 65 too old to learn to scuba dive? ›

Of course, you are never too old to take a scuba diving course. In fact, the oldest person to ever complete a PADI course was 96 years old!

Why do divers take showers? ›

Why divers shower. According to Brehmer, the answer comes down to one thing. "Divers shower in between dives typically just to keep themselves and their muscles warm," he says. They usually rinse off in water that's warmer than the pool.

Do divers have good lungs? ›

Evidence from experimental deep dives and longitudinal studies suggests long-term adverse effects of diving on the lungs in commercial deep divers, such as the development of small airways disease and accelerated loss of lung function.

What happens to divers bodies? ›

As you descend, water pressure increases, and the volume of air in your body decreases. This can cause problems such as sinus pain or a ruptured eardrum. As you ascend, water pressure decreases, and the air in your lungs expands. This can make the air sacs in your lungs rupture and make it hard for you to breathe.

Is scuba diving stressful? ›

With self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA), humans may significantly extend their stay underwater. Whether on a single breath or scuba, diving involves stressors that result from breathing modifications, water immersion, and changing pressure as the diver moves vertically in the water.

What diving certification is best? ›

A PADI Open Water Diver card is the most recognized scuba certification in the world. With more than 6,600 PADI Dive Centers and Resorts worldwide, it can be hard to choose where to start.

How much a scuba diver earns? ›

Salary range for the majority of workers in Underwater divers - from ₹9,526 to ₹33,252 per month - 2023. A Underwater divers typically earns between ₹9,526 and ₹23,894 net per month at the start of the job. After 5 years of service, this is between ₹12,705 and ₹37,141 per month for a working week of 48 hours.

What are the negatives of scuba diving? ›

Diving does entail some risk. Not to frighten you, but these risks include decompression sickness (DCS, the “bends”), arterial air embolism, and of course drowning. There are also effects of diving, such as nitrogen narcosis, that can contribute to the cause of these problems.

Is scuba diving hard on lungs? ›

Gas is more compressed the deeper you go, so it takes more air to inflate the lungs. If divers don't take their time allowing their lungs and the air to slowly return to normal levels of compression, the gas expands resulting in too much air in the lungs. This can cause tears in the lungs.

What state has the most certified divers? ›

Despite Colorado being a landlocked state, the Centennial State is said to have the most certified scuba divers per capita in the country.

Is scuba diving unhealthy? ›

Can I be seriously hurt while scuba diving? Yes. The most dangerous medical problems are barotrauma to the lungs and decompression sickness, also called “the bends.” Barotrauma occurs when you are rising to the surface of the water (ascent) and gas inside the lungs expands, hurting surrounding body tissues.

How much does a Divemaster earn? ›

Some Dive Instructors make as low as US$500/month while others can make US$4000-US$6000/month and others will make anything in between. A scuba diving instructor salary and how much a diving instructor can make, depends on a few important factors.

How much is PADI Divemaster annual fee? ›

How Long is My Membership Valid? Your annual PADI Club membership will be activated for 12 months from the time of purchase. Important Auto-Renew Note: This membership will continue to renew at a rate of $49.95 every 12 months until you cancel at least 24 hours prior to the next charge.

How much do Divemasters make in Hawaii? ›

How much does a divemaster make in Hawaii? Including tips a divemaster can expect to make between $45 – 55 thousand a year. Divemasters can make a wide range of pay in Hawaii but in Kona it is common for divemasters to start around $17-19 per hour and can make as much as $22 per hour as of September 2022.

How many years does it take to become a master diver? ›

You must have at least 40 dives to begin the Divemaster course, and reach 60 to achieve the certification. The number of dives needed to complete the course means it can take anywhere between six weeks and six months to attain the certification.

How do saturation divers sleep? ›

There are some such saturation complexes, but commercial sat divers live on board dive support vessels (DSVs) in hyperbaric living quarters. Food and supplies are delivered through small airlocks, and these chambers have areas for sleeping, eating and showering.

Is diving saturation risky? ›

Danger is always present when saturation diving. There are so many working variables that the diver needs to be aware of. TUP (transfer under pressure) and no visibility in the water can be very dangerous as well as the equipment involved in the jobs, such as overhead crane loads sent down to you.

Do saturation divers ever get attacked? ›

A saturation diver, Paolo Eduardo, who was on a mission to make a minor repair on the seabed deep off the coast of Brazil, was attacked by swordfish.

What are the long term health effects of saturation diving? ›

There is some evidence of long term cumulative reduction in lung function in saturation divers. Saturation divers are frequently troubled by superficial infections such as skin rashes, otitis externa and athlete's foot, which occur during and after saturation exposures.

How much do saturation divers make an hour? ›

According to commercial divers and global statistics, the average underwater welding salary is $53,990 annually and $25.96 per hour. However, most incomes float around $25,000 – $80,000.

Are there any female saturation divers? ›

Marni Zabarsky, First Female Saturation Diver, Gulf of Mexico | OILWOMAN Magazine.

How much do you tip a dive crew? ›

As a generalization, a good rule of thumb to consider is to tip $5USD to $10USD per dive (per tank). When you break that down that is roughly leaving a tip of 10 to 20 percent based on the service provided and your overall experience.

How much is demo pay? ›

Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay (HDIP) Rates
Hazardous DutyRates per month
Demolition Duty$150
Experimental Stress Duty$150
Toxic Fuels (or Propellants) Duty$150
Toxic Pesticides Duty$150
8 more rows
May 16, 2019

What is special duty assignment pay? ›

SDAP is a monthly special pay that is used to induce enlisted members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard* to qualify for and serve in designated assignments or specialties where the duties are extremely difficult or involve an unusual degree of responsibility.

How long does it take to dive 1000 feet? ›

It took Gabr only about 12 minutes to reach the record depth, which he achieved with the help of a specially tagged rope that he pulled along with him from the surface, Guinness World Records officials said in a statement. However, the trip back up to the surface took much longer — about 15 hours.

How long do scuba divers hold their breath? ›

However there are a number of techniques which can be used to dive for longer periods of time. Professional freedivers train intensively to understand and overcome the body's reflexes in order to dive for up to nine minutes at a time without any breathing apparatus.

Is scuba diving hard for beginners? ›

Is it hard to learn to scuba dive? As active recreational pastimes go, scuba diving is one of the easiest to learn. While you're gliding around enjoying the underwater sights, you're engaged in only three basic skills: floating, kicking and breathing.

Can you scuba dive and fly within 24 hours? ›

Waiting the correct amount of time before flying will reduce the nitrogen in your blood. As a general rule it is recommended to wait 24 hours before flying after doing any type of diving. This rule covers all types of dives and adds extra time as a safeguard for peace of mind.

Where do saturation divers sleep? ›

There are some such saturation complexes, but commercial sat divers live on board dive support vessels (DSVs) in hyperbaric living quarters. Food and supplies are delivered through small airlocks, and these chambers have areas for sleeping, eating and showering.

How fast do divers fall? ›

As the term suggests, freefall is the portion of your skydive that takes place between exiting the plane and opening your parachute. Once you and your tandem instructor leap into the big blue, gravity takes you on the ride of your life as you fall belly to earth at an average of 61 meters (200 feet) every second.

How deep can military divers go? ›

First class divers could work 300 ft (91 m) depths while salvage and second class divers were qualified down to 150 ft (46 m).

Do scuba divers have stronger lungs? ›

This study indicates that divers have larger lungs (FVC) than predicted when they start their diving career and FVC may increase slightly due to adaptation to diving.

Why can't you fly after diving? ›

Ascending to high altitude after scuba diving increases your risk of suffering from decompression sickness. Flying after diving increases this risk because of the decreasing atmospheric pressure.

What is the hardest part of scuba diving? ›

For many divers, the entry-level course's most challenging skill is mask clearing. The sensation of water flooding into the mask often triggers panic, especially if it enters the nose.

What is the most difficult problem a diver faces? ›

Drowning. As far as fatalities, this is actually the highest risk occurrence, although you usually hear more about DCS. Drowning typically occurs because of diver panic or because of a diver becoming unconscious due to other, non-diving related health problems.

What is the common problem in scuba diving? ›


The most common injury in divers is ear barotrauma (Box 3-03). On descent, failure to equalize pressure changes within the middle ear space creates a pressure gradient across the eardrum.

Why am I so hungry after scuba diving? ›

Dehydration can cause you to feel hunger, when in reality your body is craving for water. Add to that, if you don't drink enough water your body will feel tired. All divers when they have completed their dive usually are suffering from a certain degree of dehydration.

How many calories do you burn scuba diving? ›

Facts and Figures. As a rough guide scuba diving can use from 400 to 700 calories each hour. The actual number of calories burned can change due to different conditions – such as water temperature, currents, and the amount of exercise carried out during the dive.


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