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Is it Possible To Make a Living as a Divemaster?

Is it Possible To Make a Living as a Divemaster?

by Margot McManus
If you’re reading this there’s a good chance you are considering doing a divemaster training. You may also be asking yourself if you could make a living as a divemaster. We get asked this question a lot, so we’re taking the time here to talk about some options for working as a divemaster full-time and how you could make it work in the dive industry.

How much do divemasters make?

We discussed the differences in wages between scuba diving instructors and divemasters in our blog post about working as a divemaster full-time, so if you’ve haven’t read that yet you may want to give it a look before continuing here.

Once you get to know the industry, it’s no secret – the wages are low. Working as a divemaster does not equate to making a lot of money. Divemasters are in it for the lifestyle, their love of scuba diving and the ocean.
In the scuba diving industry, everyone is trying to make a living out of their passion. This means that dive shops are flooded with CVs from people wanting to work as a divemaster. Since the demand isn’t as high as the amount of people willing to fill the position, openings can be scarce and people are willing to work for not much. We can’t give you an exact number for what a divemaster salary is, as that will vary depending on location.

However, anywhere you are in the world, a divemaster salary will most likely not be enough to sustain average western standards of living, especially when we take into account visa and work permit expenses, which we’ll get to in a little bit.
Divemaster pool training
Divemaster Lifestyle

Salary standards

To work in the diving industry you should also have some knowledge about local vs. western salary standards. The best diving locations in the world are in developing countries, meaning what a divemaster salary is to a local is not the same as what it is to someone who’s used to a western salary. This is another reason that locals are usually hired as divemasters over foreigners.

Work permits

There is a price to be paid when working abroad unfortunately, and it can be expensive. Because the price of work permits is high and divemaster salary is low, this is another factor that makes being a divemaster full-time not always financially sustainable. This is another reason for employers to have locals fill the position, since there are no visas or permits needed which means no extra administrative tasks and costs.

Where can I make a living as a divemaster?

Working as a divemaster can be more or less sustainable depending on where you decide to work in the world, and how in demand divemasters are.

For example, in places that are known more as honeymoon destinations, the dive centers are usually integrated with large resorts that take up most of the island. As an employee you don’t socialize outside of the workplace and are mostly restricted to employee quarters, so you are very secluded. It’s also a secluded location geographically, so you aren’t able to explore and travel outside of the island. However, in return you often get free accommodation, food, work permit expenses covered, nice facilities and even a return flight covered. This means that there’s not much to do outside of work, but if you’re looking to save money or to go somewhere with a partner and dive in pristine conditions then it could be a perfect fit.

This is only one example of a more lucrative location for dive professionals. If you are really looking for higher salaries as a divemaster, you’ll have to search in high end dive resorts. But be aware that these employers are seeking more corporate profiles from their divemasters.

How much do divemasters earn working on liveaboards?

You could also look into opportunities for working on liveaboards. As with any job, there’s pros and cons of being on a liveaboard.

Working on a liveaboard has its perks. For example, you’ll be diving in amazing and remote places, all your accommodation and food are included, which allows the divemaster’s salary to be a lot more sustainable. The tips are also really good since guests are already paying a lot of money to be there, and you inevitably spend a lot of time with them, giving you more time to boost those tip points. This is where working on higher-end liveaboards can be a more lucrative divemaster job.

The downside is that you’re living where you’re working. So this means alone time is practically non-existent, and that the workday never really ends and you are pretty much on call all hours of the day.
Divemaster Life
Divemaster Lifestyle

What do I need to find a job as a divemaster?

Here’s where we’ll tell you how you can potentially make this diving lifestyle more financially sustainable.

TLDR: bringing any other skills you have to the table makes you a much more viable candidate for getting that divemaster job.
For example, things that dive shops need: people who have marine mechanical experience, speak multiple languages, experience cooking (liveaboards), experience with photography/videography, web development/design, social media and marketing. Having skills like these will increase your chances of getting hired as well as possibly working out a higher salary. This also goes for applying to jobs on liveaboards; any other skill you can offer will better your chances of getting hired.

You could also just have another job on the side. There are many digital nomads now working as divemasters, as this allows you to have two sources of income while working as a divemaster. There’s a lot of divers out there who have YouTube channels often discussing matters in the industry or reviewing different diving gear which brings in sponsorship money. The same goes for working as a photographer, videographer or social media marketer. There’s always opportunities in the industry to work with other businesses around you for additional sources of income.

Making a living as a divemaster – To Summarize

The number of candidates often outweighs the demand for the divemaster position. This is why we want to stress the importance of having other skills when it comes to being employable.

Having other sources of income on the side can be a game changer towards making the divemaster lifestyle more financially sustainable. You can do this by having a job that is online and can be done remotely.
You can also make sure to promote your additional skills to diving when applying to jobs, which will increase your chances of getting hired.

Lastly, you could accept to work in a more secluded location or on a liveaboard where you’ll have no expenses and only an income.

This is all information we want our current and potential divemaster interns at 3W Dive to know so that they’re ready to take on the dive industry after their training with us.
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