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Diving instructor salary range

Becoming a scuba diving instructor seems like a dream job. After all, what other position allows you to explore the great unknown beneath the waves, teach other people a thrilling skill, and travel the world? It's harder than it looks, though, and the salary range may not be what you think.

Certification Agencies

There are many certification agencies in existence, all of which have their own training programs for instructors. The most popular agencies in North America are PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors), and SSI (Scuba Schools International). The salary ranges for these agencies are comparable.

Choosing a certification agency is often a matter of selecting a school or instructor, since most dive facilities only train through one agency. PADI claims to be the largest certification agency in the world, and to therefore offer more jobs for dive instructors worldwide.

Average Salary

According to, the average salary for dive instructors in the United States is £23,400 a year. This amount varies tremendously, however, as most local dive shops hire only part time instructors, who may or may not fill in additional hours by working in the shop. Instructors are also generally paid on a per-student basis, which varies by level and course taught. A beginning Open Water instructor can expect to earn about £9,750 to £11,700 per year.

Many dive instructors are paid commissions on equipment sold to their students. This can make up a significant part of their income.

Becoming a dive instructor definitely isn't the job for someone looking to get rich. Most instructors are attracted to the possibility of getting paid to do something they would normally pay for.

Tourist Destinations

The ability to travel and earn a living in exotic locales is one of the most sought-after perks of working as a dive instructor.

Destinations -- such as the Hawaiian Islands -- that typically attract a lot of scuba students are good places to look if you're seeking employment as a dive instructor. Although pay rates are not necessarily higher, there are more students, which means that per-student fees can actually add up to a living wage.

Cruise Ships

Most cruise ship lines hire instructors, who teach basic dive skills in the on-board pool and then take passengers out on excursions. According to the Free Guide to Cruise Ship Jobs, salaries range from £1,105 to £1,560 per month, and include lodging on the ship.

Course Director

One path that may lead to more money is that of Course Director. Course Directors run the educational programs of dive shops, and typically combine management and teaching skills. Though Course Directors make more money, there are fewer positions available.