For many people a dream job is living on an island, on a tropical beach, with sexy people running around half naked in skimpy swim suits and that is exactly what the scuba diving industry sells in their marketing. For many that pursue the dream and become dive masters may find themselves disappointed when they find that the pay and demand for dive masters, which is the first level of professional diving are not very good. So should you give up the dream?
There are many dive schools that are churning out dive masters at a rate faster than the new dive masters can find jobs that pay enough to sustain a reasonable lifestyle. So if you do want to go for the scuba diving dream job, I would strongly suggest that you don’t stop at the dive master level, but become a teaching status scuba diving instructor instead.
There is an axiom that is used by the stake holders in the dive industry that goes like this “you can never have too much lead or too many instructors”. Scuba Instructors are easier to hire for a dive center, dive resort, or dive boat-live aboard for the simple reason that they can lead divers on underwater scuba dive tours, and they can also teach most of the beginning dive courses like the Discover Scuba Diving or try dive and the open water courses. Depending on the certification agency, they can teach all the way up to the dive master level. This gives a lot of flexibility to the owners for scheduling. Tech New Master
Most dive operations count on the revenues generated from the dive courses, rather than the dive tours. The courses also fuel the scuba diving equipment sales, which are the real profit center for most dive centers, contributing in many cases 50% of the total profits of the companies.
One of the biggest profit engines is the dive masters candidates themselves, as they are required to have all of their own scuba equipment to work as dive master. The gear needed includes the BCD, regulators, wetsuit, mask and fins, timing device, preferably a dive computer, surface signaling devices usually a whistle and a surface marker and a knife or scissors for possible line snags underwater. They will probably also want to have a powerful dive light for night dives and a bag to hold all of their dive equipment.
A rough estimation for a dive package that includes all of the dive gear necessary to be a dive master is going to run around $2000 today, you can do it for less with used equipment but you can also spend a whole lot more. A fancy computer can run $1500 USD, a top of the line regulator package $1000, a tech rec BCD with all of the options $1000, I think you get the point.
So let’s do some fuzzy math here, let’s say that it costs $2000 USD more for a dive master to become an instructor. An instructor will make somewhere in the 20 to 25% range for teaching most dive courses so to recoup the extra money you will need to only teach 25 to 30 students to pay to become an instructor. Working in the dive industry for one year should be plenty to cover the extra costs to become a scuba instructor and make yourself much more likely to find a job that will fulfills your dreams.