Updated: Dec 14, 2019
Here’s a joke for you: “How can you make a million dollars with SCUBA diving? Start with two million and waste one.” *da-dum-dsj*. A lot has been said and written about dive instructor wages and for some reason it’s something of a controversial topic that evokes strong emotions. Reactions usually range from “stay away from SCUBA unless you want to go bankrupt” to “best decision of my life”.
At the end of the day, a salary is relative to your cost of living and your personal situation. Maybe you already have some assets that are working for you such as savings, investments or even some real estate. Because it’s nearly impossible to factor in all these variables, we’re just going to compare some real-life examples from graduates in our alumni network. It’s important to realize that there are a lot of different salary structures. Some are fixed per month, some are daily rates. Some involve commission or include housing etc. but either way, here’s what we got back from our alumni. You do the research and the math to figure out if this is worth it to you. If you’re chasing the money, there are plenty of ways to do so but SCUBA probably isn’t going to be it. However, if you’re looking for a lifestyle that allows you to pursue your passion, it’s definitely still a way of life that’s viable. For reference, we will also provide the average monthly income for that region. EUROPE One of our graduates is currently working in Santorini, Greece. She receives a fixed monthly salary of 1100 EUR (1230 USD at the time of writing) but is able to save big time on rent because accommodation is included as part of the salary. Tips are common and are added to the salary. *Average monthly salary in Greece: 1060 EUR per month (1190 USD)
Staying in Europe, another piece of data we have is for Mallorca, Spain. An average instructor salary comes in at 1300 EUR per month (1460 USD at the time of writing) for a six day work week. No other extras are included but tips are of course possible. *Average monthly salary in Spain: 1318 EUR (1480 USD) Source: Youth Council of Spain. An important side note here is that the average cost of living in the Balearic Islands is significantly higher than in the rest of Spain so the average salary isn’t necessarily representative here. Going over to the island nation of Malta in the Mediterranean, we can expect to make around 1200 EUR per month (1340 USD). That's just a base salary though and this increases easily by working an extra day per week, conducting a third daily dive or night dives. On top of that, there's a commission of 10% on every customer generated by the instructor and this particular dive operation offers pay raises per year of seniority. *Average monthly salary in Malta: 1553 EUR (1740 USD) Source: http://www.jobseurope.net AUSTRALIA
One of our alumni is currently working in Exmouth, Western Australia as a casual worker, paid a day rate so the pay structure is a little bit more complicated but let’s have a crack at it.
We make 180 AUD on days when we do two dives. If we do one dive, we make 130 AUD and if we're just doing a quick 2 hour refresher in the pool, we're making 50 AUD. We conduct Open Water Diver courses over 3 days and Advanced Open Water diver courses over 2 days. There is a 180 AUD per day payout for each course day. Let’s say we do 12 days at 180 and 8 days at 130, that adds up to 3200 AUD (or 2250 USD at the time of writing) *Average monthly salary in Western Australia 5262 AUD (3700 USD)
Source: http://www.payscale.com A little side note, though, on the cost of living in Exmouth 600 - 800 AUD for rent and 1200 - 1500 in other expenses is a reasonable estimate. AMERICAS We also received some interesting data from Curacao, Dutch Antilles because we had two alumni, working at separate dive centers but with similar job descriptions, provide us with their salary infomation. Working as a full time SCUBA instructor in one dive center earns a monthly salary of 2500 NAFL monthly (1470 USD at the time of writing) for a five day work week. A very nice extra is that the salary also comes with health insurance. The other one receives a 1100 USD monthly salary with 100-500 USD per month in tips. So let’s average that to 250 USD per month in tips, totalling an average monthly salary of 1350 USD. *Average monthly salary in Curacao is 5772 NAFL (3390 USD) Another one of our graduates has worked in Little Corn, Nicaragua and was paid on a per student basis. 3.50 USD per fun diver per dive, usually taking out groups of six, 25 USD per Discover SCUBA Dive or Refresher, 60 USD per Open Water student, 50 USD per Advanced Open Water student. Accommodation and daily lunch were included.
*Average monthly salary in Nicaragua is 370 USD Source: http://www.checkinprice.com
We also have some data to share with you from an alumni who works in Jacksonville Beach, Florida as an independent contractor. She earns 100 USD per student for courses, with 3% commission on gear sales within four days of course completion. On a monthly basis, she averages out on 2200 USD per month from Thursday to Sunday, so essentially working part time. It is important to factor in that this is indeed a part time job so difficult to compare with the regional average monthly income. Average monthly salary in Florida is 4265 USD Source: http://www.payscale.com CONCLUSION This list is of course far from complete but does give a reasonable sample size of what to expect, as it is based on real feedack from real SCUBA instructors. It's also important to keep in mind that this list does not include dive instructors who moved on to become dive shop managers or who own their own business. Food for thought for another article! Perhaps an interesting conclusion is that there are a fair few places where dive instructors actually earn the average regional salary (or even more) and other places where they don't. Of course there are many ways to increase your SCUBA instructor income, which you can read about in one of our previous posts here. Don't hesitate to leave your stories or opinions in the comment section if you have interesting input. Special thanks for helping with this article to some of our alumni. For privacy reasons I won't mention any names but you know who your are!