Dive Instructor Salary- How Much Does an Instructor Earn?

Imagine getting paid to do what you love.

As a diving instructor, you’re able to teach passionate students out at sea whilst enjoying an island lifestyle.

For me, that was much of the appeal. But we all need to make a living too and there are well-paid dive instructor jobs up for grabs.


The amount that you get paid often comes down to the location.

It's not all about the salary- the lifestyle was the biggest appeal for me (Pictured- Koh Tao)

A Scuba Diving Instructor salary can range from £15 a day all the way to £300 per day.


The lower-paying centres rarely offer salaries but those that do provide the more-experienced scuba instructor with salaries of around £9,000, whereas some centres in the US can pay up to £100,000.

The amount you’re able to earn comes down to the following:

  • Where you’re based
  • Level of Experience
  • Training
  • Your Ability
  • Languages that you speak

The factors above are often considered by dive centres but it all depends on the employers and their preferences. Plus, a dive centre in South East Asia for example, has to offer competitive prices and therefore have tighter purse-strings.

Dive Instructor Salary in Thailand

Instructors in Thailand often earn around 1000 baht (£25 approx) a day. This can sometimes go up to more than 2000 baht (£50 approx) with commission.


The cost of living in Thailand is cheap and for that reason, these earnings can be worth it.


You can earn more teaching students at some of the bespoke hotels and their attached dive centres. It’s also possible to get some great paying jobs by finding liveaboards, they attract plenty of new divers and you can get a tasty commission.


Something to factor into this career, is that it’s usually done out of passion and the overall lifestyle. With that said, we can’t pay bills and food with enjoyment. For that reason, I think instructors should hold their value. In the past, I have seen some work for basic food and accommodation, not something that I recommend.


Yet, there are decent wages to be earned. They go a long way in Thailand, with cheap places to rent, affordable food and lots to do for a low cost.

The salaries in Malaysia and Vietnam are similar to Thailand.

Dive Instructor Salary in the US

You can earn from $20,000- $100,000. The rumours are true, you can earn a hefty paycheck in the U.S. Often California pays a great salary for well-versed instructors. Similarly, Florida have some great jobs.


You will get a lot of tips when working in America. It can be hard to get a visa if you aren’t from the US. The starting wage is usually $20,000 but if you find some of the prestigious hotels and attractions, you could get a better offer.  A diving instructor salary in the US certainly would not disappoint! They also have many beautiful locations to dive in.

Fixed Salary v Commission

Liveaboards and some dive centres like to pay through commission. Whereas many US companies offer a fixed wage.


You may even be able to negotiate for a fusion of the two.


I don’t need to explain the benefits and downfalls of these different ways to earn. One provides security of a scuba instructor role while the other allows the freedom to earn more.


If you are working as a diving instructor temporarily for somewhere then you may be paid as you earn.

What Are the Best Paid Dive Instructor Jobs?

As discussed, there are variables that impact the wage of a scuba instructor. One of the factors is the location, others depend on the facility or centre.

Where to Teach

  • South East Asia– You’ll struggle to find high-paying jobs but you can live a luxurious lifestyle for very little. Don’t get me wrong, you can get some decent paying positions but you won’t be “rolling in it”… There’s lot of competition for jobs but also plenty of customers there to dive, and a lot of open water courses to teach!
  • United States– It’s one of the better paid locations. You are limited to California and Florida, if you want the best pay. Working visas are difficult to obtain.
  • Caribbean– There are lots of places to dive in the Caribbean, including Grand Cayman, Cuba and more. The salaries can be better than in Asia, but it’s all relative. Because the cost of living can be expensive on some islands. Read on for more about Royal Caribbean.
  • Maldives– With commission and tips aside, you can earn a net salary of around £600 ($800 approx) a month.
  • Europe– Europe varies, if you manage to find a commercial diving job then you could earn a living. It won’t be well paid but you could get a salary of £17,000- £22,000 ($13,000- $17,000 approx). According to SalaryExpert.com– you could earn up to £21,000 ($27,000 approx) per year in Spain. A good wage to enjoy sun, a laid-back culture and a location that isn’t too expensive to live.

I’ve reviewed the best dive spots in some of the above locations.  Click here to learn more about the type of diving and the best diving in Belize and the best diving in the bahamas.  Make sure you do your research on the location that you are thinking about working in!

I think that is one of the greatest aspects to working as a scuba instructor, the sheer variety of locations that you can work in.  Every dive site is different, yet every country is different.  As a scuba instructor, your office literally changes every day!

Job Type

The type of job that you acquire makes all the difference. If you go for a sub-standard dive centre that tries to undercut others, then you won’t be practicing in the safest centre, neither will you earn much. If you find a bespoke hotel or dive centre, you could get the chance to enjoy a bigger salary. 

There are other jobs too- including becoming a scuba instructor on a cruise ship or liveaboard. Lots of liveaboard trips have constant dives, and for that reason, they pay well. You will constantly be entertaining customers, but it’s a lot of fun. However, you will find that there is quite a bit of competition for these types of scuba instructor jobs!

What type of dive instructor jobs can you enjoy? And how much will they pay?

Liveaboard or Cruise Ship

As previously mentioned, you could earn a good wage on a cruise. It’s nothing crazy, but it’s competent and this type of work has other benefits. You can earn great commission, plus your accommodation and food is covered.

There are lots of liveaboard jobs across the globe.

Many divers who love the Caribbean, ask about the salary at Royal Caribbean, a well-known company. What is the Royal Caribbean Dive Instructor salary? I can’t say for certain, but according to the ScubaBoard.com forum- you can earn £1k/$2k a month. You will also reap lots of generous tips.


Many hotels on diving islands offer their own centre. If they are a prestigious hotel, you can expect good commission. It is hard to pinpoint the exact amount, because it varies. It is certainly worth asking around.

Type of Centre

The number on your wage slip can range depending on the centre. It depends on the level of service they are providing and how much they charge.


There are specialities that you can add to your qualification. By doing so, you have more opportunities to earn. If you are an expert in photography, add this speciality and teach an additional course or upsell to clients.

You are also able to use your coral knowledge or eco-friendly research to help you deliver a specialist dive course.

Enquire at PADI for more details on specialities.


You’ll often hear other people talk about bi-lingual scuba instructors and the importance. No doubt, it helps- but it isn’t imperative. You can get by with one language, but obviously it’s an advantage to land some jobs.

This isn’t always as important as many make out, but it can help in certain locations.


Your experience can help put you in good stead. If you sell yourself and your experience to the dive center, they may offer extra benefits or up the commission and overall salary. All of your diving and working experiences could come in handy

How to Earn More When Diving?

The above hints at ways that you can earn more when teaching diving.


By keeping consistency and quality, you will rack up experience, making yourself more appealing to top dive centres and therefore a higher diving instructor salary. This could land you a head diver position, that’s if the employers have such a position.


Speciality courses are another great way to earn more, you could specialise in photography and eventually teach that package alongside the instructor course.  


You also have the opportunity to climb the ladder and become a course director or strive for other positions.  A diving instructor never stops learning and should continue to grow within the industry.

Selling Equipment

If you’re a handy salesperson, then you could be an asset for dive shops. But obviously, you need to find one that sells dive equipment.


You will then be able to get a commission on equipment that you upsell to customers.  If you are a diving instructor that can demonstrate strong sales experienced you will be snapped up quick.

What is the Average Salary of a Dive Instructor?

The average salary of a dive instructor is between £8,000-£18,000 ($10,000- $20,000) and as you can see the amount ranges.

Pick your location from the above and find out how much you could earn as a diving instructor. It shouldn’t be just about the money, diving needs passionate individuals who love the deep blue.

Becoming a PADI dive instructor is, quite easily, the greatest thing I have ever done.  If you love scuba diving and want to share your passion with others then go for it!

Katy Jane

Thank you for reading. I started KatyJaneDives.com to share my passion for diving. I am an environmental educator, scientist and now an MSDT diver. This platform has been made to create, connect and share my knowledge in the world of diving.

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