I get these questions a lot. “How much money will I make as a Dive Instructor?” or “Where do Dive Instructors get paid the best?” – “What is the yearly income?” – “Can I make a career out of being a Diving Instructor?” or “How much is a dive instructor salary?”
I understand how important it is in making your decision to change your life and do the PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) to become a PADI Diving Instructor. 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 dive instructor salary and how much a diving instructor can make, depends on a few important factors.
- Fixed salary or commission based dive salary
- Location in world
- Dive shop, center, school, resort to work for
- You as a person
- Different ways to earn money as a Dive Instructor
- Extra skills and attributes
Fixed dive instructor salary or commission based salary
There are usually 2 different ways a dive instructor salary is paid.
One way is with a fixed dive instructor salary:
Fixed salaries are very common in many industries, but not so common in the diving industry. Areas where you can find fixed salaries are dive jobs on Cruise Ships, Liveaboards (ego in the Maldives) and some other resorts around the world. These fixed diving salaries are usually very average and around 1000 to 1500 US Dollars a month. However at many places they offer extra commissions if you sell diving equipment, extra dive courses, and even non-diving related activities like wake boarding, jet skiing, snorkeling; and even land-based activities like tickets to the opera, cinema and recommendations to restaurants. The best thing about fixed salaries is financial stability. The down side is that it might be a lot lower then full commission-based salaries.
A much more common dive instructor salary is Earn As You Work:
This means that dive instructors get paid per fun diver or diving student. This is especially common in popular areas like Koh Tao and Koh Phi Phi in Thailand and the Gili Islands in Indonesia. Depending on where you work, the average commission for an PADI Open Water Student is between 50 and 60 US dollars. So it really depends on how many students you get to teach diving. This is one of the reasons why a dive instructor salary in these areas can be very different from one instructor to another. Some make very good money and some don’t.
In Cairns for example if you work on the Liveaboard you can make a base salary of 200 Australian dollars per day and then you receive all the extra commissions on top of that. If you are very good in getting people to do more trips and invest in more equipment then you can make between 3000 and 4500 Australian Dollar per month. Not bad for doing something you love, right?
Location in the world
It really depends on where you want to work in the world as some places are busier then others. In places like Koh Tao, Thailand and Cairns, Australia you have a lot of entry-level divers and there are a lot of customers. On the other hand these places also attract a lot of other dive instructors seeking work and you will have some competition. Maybe in other areas like some resorts in the Maldives you have a lot less Open Water and Advanced students, but more DSD courses, fun divers and you’ll be also busy with other activities like water sports. You might end up working for the most beautiful dive center in one of the best diving locations in the world, but maybe not make so much money as It might be very quiet. My advice is to do some research before you apply for a job in a certain location, like asking instructors that already work there. Facebook can be your best friend here
Which Dive Shop, Dive Center, Dive School or Dive Resort you will work for
There are many different kinds of diving businesses to work for. Some Dive shops are based in the middle of a city, while others are located right on the beach. You can work on Liveaboards, cruise ships and even super yachts as a diving Instructor! Some places focus a lot more on dive equipment sales, while some more on DSD students, others on fun divers and some mainly on Open Water students. Your salary will then be based on their core customers. If you are fantastic at selling dive equipment, then you will do better and earn more money in those dive shops that focus on that more then dive shops that focus on new divers. Try to join a Dive company that fits your style and the way they conduct business and you’ll be more successful there than at another dive company that doesn’t fit you. Of course if you are amazing in training new PADI Open Water Divers, get 80% or higher to do the Advanced course, sell everyone a piece of dive equipment and don’t mind to still lead fun divers and conduct a PADI Discover Scuba Dive once in a while then you will be successful wherever you go. The happier you are in your work place, the more success you will create for the company and your dive salary will reflect that.
At Sairee Cottage Diving on Koh Tao, Thailand we train all our PADI Divemaster and Diving Instructor IDC Candidates to become all round successful dive employees. So that you succeed wherever you work in the world as a Divemaster or Dive Instructor.
You as a person
This is by far the biggest factor in determining how much you will make and how successful your dive career will be. In other words your attitude towards your customers will greatly influence your salary in most locations in the world. Most people I hear complaining they don’t make enough money in diving are usually the ones that always complain, people who are cranky, who don’t smile and don’t understand that we are in the hospitality business. Being a diving instructor is still a job and if you want to succeed, you should treat it as a proper career. It’s just a very fun career!
Extra skills and attributes
Some people say that languages are the most important attribute to have if you want to get more work as a Dive Instructor. I personally don’t agree. I do admit that being able to speak multiple languages will help you to find work in the dive industry, but a good attitude is a far better attribute to have. I know dive instructors that can speak 6 languages, but have a very negative attitude. They might find a job easy, but they never keep it for long and they give the dive industry a bad name. While on the other hand I have met some of the best diving instructors in the industry and they only speak 1 or maybe 2 languages. Like I said before it’s all about good attitude in this business!
Besides having a great attitude, it can also really help if you have other skills to bring to the table. Skills like Web Development, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), great customer service skills and restaurant, bar and hotel experience can also help in being hired as a Dive Instructor. Times are changing and having, for example, someone on staff that can help with website or social network marketing can really help you in getting that dream job. I have also seen more and more Dive Centers where it is expected that you help by posting your diving experiences on Facebook, Instagram or even write a small blog after every course or dive trip. A Dive resort might also expect you to help in the restaurant or bar.
That said, don’t worry if you do not have a background like that, there are still plenty of jobs out there, those things listed above might just increase your job opportunities and/or dive instructor salary a bit.
I hope this helps you to get a better idea about a possible dive instructor salary. I wish I could give you the numbers from every dive shop in the world, but you’ll have to do some research and ask around on Facebook. Don’t listen to negative people or people that never earned a decent dive instructor salary or a good income from the dive industry. I remember becoming a Diving Instructor with almost no money and now I am a successful PADI Platinum Course Director working for one of the best Dive Centers in Thailand; Sairee Cottage Diving on Koh Tao, where I teach new and successful diving instructors in our monthly Instructor Development Course (IDC) program.
If you play your cards right you can do very well in this industry and you will have one of the best jobs in the world: Being a Diving Instructor!