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Diving as a profession

Discussion in 'Going Pro' started by Mauui, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. Mauui

    Mauui Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: India
    Hi! I am an Advanced Open Water Diver. I've been thinking about pursuing scuba diving as a profession, but as interesting as it is, it is confusing as well.

    I'm not sure what kind of prospects divers have and what levels do they get them. Do many people aspire to have the highest certification? Or are people content with being Open Water Diver Instructors? I have talked to divers, very briefly, and have heard stories about them working in certain countries for a year or two and then going to some other country. Is that something most professionals working at dive centres do?

    What about the payscale? I'm not looking to be a dive shop owner but more of a "nomad", visiting different dive centres, working for a couple of years and moving to some other location. Do people go on to pursue being Course Directors? To the best of my knowledge, I think the highest certification for a "nomad" would be a Master Scuba Diver (?).

    I would love to read everyone's input on this. Maybe I'm just thinking of a dreamy perfect world where it's all blue waters and fun times, maybe it's actually real. I'd be grateful to everyone who'd guide me through the ways.
  2. Outbound

    Outbound Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Michigan
    As the old adage goes, the easiest way to make $1 million as a dive professional is to start with $2 million...
    W W Meixner, Hoyden and MargaritaMike like this.
  3. Seaweed Doc

    Seaweed Doc Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle, Washington State, USA
    If you want to see the world, live cheap, and not have a family, then it's workable. However, from what I've heard the only folks that really get a stable income out of it are owners of profitable dive shops (not all shops make money), Course Directors, or both.

    If you want to make money underwater, go into commercial saturation diving. You get paid to face the risks.
    TMHeimer likes this.
  4. Sh0rtBus

    Sh0rtBus BUBBLLLLLLES! My Bubbles ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Denton, TX
    See above.

    And so you're aware, Master Scuba Diver is the highest level you can earn as a recreational scuba diver. Just means there's really nothing else they (as a training agency) can teach you in the recreational realm of diving. Dive Master is the first tier for professional scuba diving. Most agencies these days are requiring DM candidates to be Master Scuba Divers (MSD) as a prerequisite (Rescue Diver is a prerequisite for MSD) and first and & cpr certified, as well as a certain number of logged dives, usually 50-60 or more. So if you're wanting to "go pro", start taking courses and working your way up to Dive Master, then go from there.
    Mauui likes this.
  5. jlcnuke

    jlcnuke Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: acworth ga
    I don't know that I'd agree that MSD means "there's nothing else they can teach you" as you only need 50 dives and 5 specialties to get MSD, and there are a LOT more than 5 courses which can teach you things as a recreational diver. It is touted as the "highest level" by PADI however, though I don't know I'd agree with that either (as it's not a certification so much as a "pay us for a card saying you've got 50 dives and 5 specialties plus rescue certification done"). It doesn't require any coursework or diving for that "certification", and your specialties don't even necessarily have to be all certs that require diving last I checked.

    As for the OP's question, if you search here the consensus you'll find from past posts is that being a "dive professional" (as in divemaster/instructor etc) for a living is pretty much asking for just enough money to pay for food and some drinks and generally a place to sleep while working long hours, and most of your day not consisting of diving. If you want to make "real" money, you're better off going commercial, but that won't give you "fun, recreational" dives for a job, but potentially dangerous and serious work underwater that pays as your personal risk goes up for the job (though there are people who love it apparently).
    Ontwreckdiver likes this.
  6. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    Considering the many MSD threads, I thought he was tongue in cheek with "there's nothing else they can teach you".
    iamrushman likes this.
  7. Chidiver1

    Chidiver1 Barracuda


    Any c/D's here?
  8. Sh0rtBus

    Sh0rtBus BUBBLLLLLLES! My Bubbles ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Denton, TX
    My statement regarding the MSD certification stands, not so much in that there's nothing else an agency can teach you but more so that there really isn't another recreational level course they offer beyond that. I hold no PADI certifications so I don't really know what they require for the MSD cert, but I know other agencies actually have both written coursework and certain skills that have to be performed to complete the class. My MSD is through NASE and from what I remember the course is somewhat similar to DM coursework but without the responsibility (read as liability).

    I do agree though that the MSD certification doesn't exactly qualify someone as a "master scuba diver." Just means more or less that the agency can't take you any further without getting into professional level diving and increased responsibility.
  9. loosenit2

    loosenit2 Solo Diver

    There are a number of threads this topic in SB, I would recommend a quick search. As a primer though there are multiple paths to be a “professional”. There is the instructor/tourism route, probably the lowest paying route (just look at teacher salaries in general); there is the commercial diving route, more sustainable but not going to make you rich, the route where diving enables you to do something else, like marine biology, NOAA etc, and finally equipment design or manufacture. Lots of ways to be in the dive industry without being an instructor.
  10. nolatom

    nolatom Captain

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Orleans
    I don't know about small-craft captain's licences in India, but "in general", if you are trying to support yourself while teaching recreational diving, it definitely does not hurt, and may very well help, to have a captain's license if you are trying to 'catch on' with a dive outfit. India, a maritime nation, likely has a small-craft commercial passenger captain's license which is recognized under the International treaties (a/k/a the IMO and STCW). Typically, if you can present two years' service in the "deck department" of a dive vessel of a certain size or gross tonnage, you could study for and obtain such a license.
    In the US, we have "Master of Inspected Near-Coastal vessels up to (25, 50, 100) tons". India likely has something equivalent. If you're serious about recreational dive teaching/coaching/being a boat divemaster, do not pass up the opportunity to get the highest captain's license you can qualify for. It will make you a much more useful organism around the dive boat/scuba company employment world, where many of the captains are also divers.
    grantwiscour and Bob DBF like this.

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