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If you’re like us, you’re probably wondering how you can turn your passion for scuba diving into a career. We get it. The owner of this website founded it as an excuse to be in the ocean as much as possible, and whenever I’m not teaching scuba diving courses, I write stories about scuba diving.
So, how can you be paid to do what you love? While most jobs for scuba divers require a professional level of certification, there are some diving jobs that don’t require anything more than an entry-level open water certification.
We’ll reveal the practical jobs for scuba divers you might already know about plus some professions you might not have considered before.
Table of Contents
Recommended minimum certification: Advanced Open Water
If you’ve ever seen a scuba diver holding measuring tape, instruments, plastic buckets or large tripods, you probably have set sights on a research diver.
While coral reefs are often the main study area for research divers (job includes monitoring reef condition and fish population), the vast open ocean is literally your outdoor laboratory. Research divers even work in freshwater environments to examine the quality of drinking water, determine invasive species, and survey fish farms to name a few.
Like me, research divers are often hired by the government, universities, NGOs, and and private companies to complete projects. While this is not often the typical 9-to-5 job many people do, working as a research diver often offers traditional employment benefits like insurance, social security and paid leaves or vacation. However, these benefits vary from workplace to workplace.
Rescue and Safety Diver
Minimum certification: Rescue Diver
Rescue diving is a certification course offered in recreational scuba diving. But do you know you can earn a living after getting rescue certified?
Equipped with the skills to prevent or respond to a dive incident or emergency, a rescue diver is one of the most physically and emotionally demanding jobs a scuba diver can have. Aside from preventing accidents from happening, you are the first person called to respond either to a panicked diver, injured, or missing diver. It’s likely that no two days on the job will ever be quite the same.
Safety divers are hired by big resorts, private companies, and for special events. But the main employer for safety or rescue divers is the government, where you can be also called to respond to other ocean calamities and disasters.
Minimum certification: Divemaster
Dive guides are usually the best friends of dive guests. Aside from taking guests to popular dive sites, they often accompany them on city tours and allow visitors to experience local culture.
Dive guides are usually employed by dive shops or dive centers and considered to be frontliners in the diving tourism industry. We usually earn through a fixed salary, commission or a combination of both.
Minimum certification: Open Water Scuba Instructor or equivalent
A dive instructor is one of the most rewarding jobs in the diving industry. You can simultaneously practice your profession, teach students to learn the sport, and earn a decent money at the same time.
There are many job pathways for a dive instructor. You can be a freelance instructor (like me) or be employed at a dive shop. In a dive shop setting, aside from being the instructor, you may also be offered the dive shop manager position as instructors usually have an extensive experience in running dive shops.
Minimum certification: Commercial Dive training
Commercial diving is considered as the highest paying job a scuba diver can ever have. But before earning big bucks, you should have extensive dive experience and must be a certified commercial diver which is pretty much demanding in nature. The costs of training to become a commercial diver can also be quite expensive.
If you’re familiar with handling the SPG and the inflator button in your open water level, it is totally different in commercial diving. In commercial diving, power tools are your toys to aid you in repairing underwater pipes, loose bolts or salvaging small items. On top of these heavy tools, you are also prone to decompression sickness as underwater time in commercial diving is usually extended beyond the standards of the recreational dive planner. This is a job for divers who love high risk, high reward activities.
Scuba Diving Writer / Blogger
Minimum certification: Open Water Scuba Diver
When we dive, we travel. Most of the time, only a few know the places we are exploring. With your knowledge, why not share your first hand experience to fellow divers or soon to be divers? Well, you might be thinking, “I am not a writer.” That was my case 20 years ago. But then I thought, “I have seen the dive sites, explored the scenery, and was on the journey to get there… All I have to do is put it into words.” You can write about a dive site, your certification course, or your experience using a particular piece of scuba equipment as a product review.
I would be a hypocrite if I said writing about my diving adventures doesn’t provide me food on the table. Yes, writing dive-related articles have substantially provided me with food (and drinks) while staying at home, protecting me from the pandemic. Another advantage to being a dive writer, aside from earning money, is that your mental ability will be sharpened to a point that your communication skills will come out naturally. Scuba diving writers can earn a living by writing set assignments or passively earning money on their own website.
Dive Shop Manager / Owner
Minimum recommended certification: Open Water Scuba Diver
Not all scuba jobs require you to get wet, like becoming a dive shop manager (well… sometimes you do). Equipped with a skill combination of management and marketing plus a passion for the sport, dive shop managers supervise the operation of a dive shop. It does not require a pro certification, though having scuba diving expertise is ideal. Aside from taking care of customer needs, selling is a big part in being a dive shop manager. You can either earn through a fixed salary, commission or a combination of both.
Many dive shop managers don’t stay as managers during their entire dive career. With the gained experience, you can eventually set up your own dive business and own a shop yourself.
If taking pictures is your thing, then the possibility of being an underwater photographer is just around the corner. The marine environment has an endless list of photography subjects where you can choose from small marine critters and do macro photography or large animals like sharks and do wide angle shots.
While anybody can hold, point and shoot an underwater camera (like me), underwater photography is recommended to be learned through a specialty course where you will be taught to control the settings (like light, color and shutter speed) and get the best picture out of the present dive conditions.
At first, underwater photography may just be a hobby. However, as you progress your skills and upgrade your camera equipment, your pictures will not just be worth a thousand words, but may also worth a thousand bucks. Underwater photographers earn a living through freelance contracts or by selling their pictures online or in print media like dive magazines. It’s a great scuba diving job that combines art with your love of diving.
Golf Ball Collector
Minimum certification: Advanced Open Water Diver
You may have encountered or heard a debate as to which is more expensive: scuba diving or golf? Well, don’t worry about the answer, and instead, let’s make money out of this debate.
Before making a par, or a birdie, or a hole in one, golfers (especially newbies) tend to land their golf balls in water hazards like ponds, lakes, and rivers. This is where our job starts. Golf ball collectors pick up submerged golf balls. We can either recycle golf balls and sell them or get paid for every ball retrieved out of the water. Just be prepared for some dirty and challenging work as the diving conditions in a golf pond are not synonymous to a pristine reef. It’s like a treasure hunt… only the treasure is buried in murky waters with woody obstacles and there’s typically lots of hand-picking work.
At the end of the day, many divers have already earned a living working in the dive industry and none of us goes home sad as the pay is good and the experience is rewarding. So, if you are still in your coat, tie, black leather shoes, tired of routinely going to office from 9 to 5 (maybe onwards) and want a new career, all you need to is prepare your wetsuit, flip flops and your dive resume.