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Top jobs in Scuba Diving



By: Brittany Hadfield

So you’ve gotten your first diving certification and now you’re hooked. You’re bored of your current job and you’re looking for something more exciting, right? While it is possible to have a career in diving with only an open water certification, often times it takes more training to achieve professional status. Below, we describe a few careers in which you can dive for a living! What could be better?

Dive Instructor
Salary: $31,000 – $50,000

Of course there’s the most obvious job of all… scuba instructor! This job sounds like the dreamiest one of all… You spend your days on dive boats and exploring the underwater world. You might even get to live in a beautiful tropical location if you’re one of the super lucky ones. Being a dive instructor comes with a lot of responsibility; you have to make sure that your students are using the proper techniques and doing so safely. With that also comes the reward of introducing and guiding students into underwater discovery and awe. Overall, if you’re looking for a job that combines teaching and diving this might be the one for you.

Underwater Photographer
Salary: $35,000 – $60,000

Do you have a knack for photography? Love to dive? This might be the job for you. Underwater photographers take photos and videos of marine life, coral reefs, shipwrecks, and caves. These photographers might work in the fashion and hospitality industries as well, photographing underwater models and resort advertisements. While the photographer’s main job might be shooting pictures, they also need to be well-versed in their editing skills, they also need to be able to adjust light, coloring, and staging challenges that shooting underwater brings.

To have a career as an underwater photographer, one must have the proper qualifications as a diver or snorkeler to perform this job. This starts at an open water certification and can advance as high as you wish. SDI also offers an underwater photography course for those who are interested in learning more. This is an introductory course and if you want to learn more we would suggest taking some higher level courses through a local workshop or at the college/university level. While some photographers have a high school diploma only, others find it helpful to seek higher education to better learn processes and equipment.

Golf Ball Diver
Salary: $36,000-55,000

This one isn’t an option that people think of often, but it’s definitely legitimate if you have the proper documentation; this being an agreement or contract with the course you plan to dive. If all you’ve ever experienced in diving is crystal clear, warm water, this might not be the job for you. Most of the time the waters golf ball divers are going into is murky and contaminated from pesticides and other chemicals. These waters often contain dangerous animals such as water moccasins, gators, and snakes. Let’s not forget about the downed trees, branches, hazardous trash such as broken glass and barbed wire, and low to zero visibility. Because of these factors, divers should be extremely confident in their abilities as a diver and also know self rescue skills. This job requires an advanced scuba diver certification due to the low to no visibility in the ponds of the golf courses. Divers might also consider taking a drysuit and full face mask course due to the nature of the waters they’re diving.

After you’ve taken into account all of the factors listed above, you then have to know about how competitive this business is. In the business of golf ball divers, you have poachers who sneak onto the courses at night and dive or wade on the edge to gather balls. The way a golf ball diver business works, a diver has a contractual agreement with the course(s) they are diving at that they get back a certain amount of money per each ball collected (this fee is usually 8-10 cents). Sometimes, the course will even take a percentage of balls back to use on their driving range. A diver will collect somewhere around 3,000 balls on an average day (8am-12pm) and will get back half of the original cost of those balls (some going for as high as $50 per dozen when new).

Commercial Diving
Salary: $54,750 – $93,910

This job isn’t one you take on a whim because it’s one that comes with many risks. It also varies from one extreme to another. Commercial diving is a very broad field ranging from underwater inspection to HAZMAT jobs. Commercial diving means working below the surface of water, performing tasks such as repairing, removing, or installing equipment underwater. Commercial divers use power & hand tools to conduct tests/experiments and rig explosives underwater. There are usually four factors to determining a commercial diver’s salary which include: diver experience, employer, location, and depth of dive. The commercial diving field isn’t one that is limited by location, but often you would work for 4-8 weeks in the field and have anywhere from 10 days – 4 weeks off to decompress and relax. This career is one that requires specialized schooling rather than a specific certification.

Marine Archaeologist
Salary: $39,000 – $72,000

Do shipwrecks interest you? Does the thought of finding sunken treasure excite you? Marine Archaeology might be the job for you. These are the people who study the ocean floor looking for shipwrecks and sites that might contain human remains to items of monetary value. You might also be in charge of keeping a database of shipwrecks in your area and updating it on a regular basis to make sure looters don’t disturb wreck sites. Marine archaeologists are also the people called when someone wants to build something in the ocean that might disrupt the ocean floor. They check the site to make sure the area is okay to build in and that there are no other wrecks that will be affected. Overall, your job here would be to preserve underwater artifacts and protect local wildlife. This job requires a certification that will allow you to dive shipwrecks, you’ll need advanced buoyancy, and even nitrox for longer dives.

Public Safety Diver
Salary: $39,000

Do you know who deals with accidents and crime scenes in bodies of water? Did you know there are specialized diving certifications for law enforcement officers? These divers are called public safety divers; they can be found diving into bodies of water to rescue or recover people or evidence in accidents and on crime scenes. Often times, these divers are faced with dangerous diving conditions with little to no visibility. Public safety diving requires very intense training; one must be prepared to see things that are not only frightening, but also very heartbreaking. You can learn more about being a public safety diver by visiting:

Diving can be extremely rewarding recreationally, but if you truly can’t get enough there’s no reason you shouldn’t explore it as a career. So jump in, do some research, and most importantly keep on diving!

To find out more about International Training, visit

From its humble beginning in 1994 to today, the group of training agencies Scuba Diving International (SDI), Technical Diving International (TDI), and Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI) form one of the largest diving certification agencies in the World – International Training. With 24 Regional Offices servicing more than 100 countries, the company today far exceeds the original vision the founders had when they conceived the idea on a napkin, sitting at a kitchen table in the early 1990’s.

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