SCUBA Instructor Jobs: Career Options and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a SCUBA instructor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training courses, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

In order to become a SCUBA instructor, individuals must be expert divers and they must have certification and extensive training to teach others how to properly dive. These instructors can work at resorts, dive shops and community recreational programs. Diving specialties include underwater archeology, wreck diving and deep-water diving. Prospective instructors need to be at least 18 years old, and have certifications in CPR, first aid and rescue techniques.

Education Requirements Diver training courses
Other Requirements Extensive diving experience; certification required; must be at least 18
Job Growth (2012-22)* 29% for commercial divers
Mean Salary (2014)*$51,070 for commercial divers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

SCUBA Instructor Jobs

SCUBA is an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Divers who want to become instructors may choose to work at dive shops, resorts or community recreation programs. Also, diving classes are offered to students at colleges, to military personnel for recreation and training at military bases and to individuals at commercial diving schools.

A SCUBA instructor may combine diving instruction with the operation of a dive shop near a popular diving location or resort. Or, an instructor might choose to teach SCUBA lessons along with other water sports skills at commercial or community recreation centers. Other dive instructors work in rehabilitation settings, including those for wounded veterans.

SCUBA Instruction Specialties

Some SCUBA instructors primarily teach diving for recreational purposes. Others focus on teaching diving to individuals who need the training for work. For example, rescue workers, underwater photographers, fisheries biologists, marine researchers, shipyard workers and underwater-construction workers may be required to be certified in diving as part of their job.

Some of the more common diving specialties include deep-water diving, underwater archaeology and wreck diving. Instructors may also teach technical classes on special technology, including the use of enriched air (Nitrox), dry suits and night-diving equipment.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't collect income data on SCUBA instructors specifically, but it does have information on divers ( The BLS expected employment for divers to grow faster than average, by 29%, between 2012 and 2022. As of May 2014, workers in commercial diving earned an average annual wage of $51,070, according to the BLS.

Education requirements to become a SCUBA Instructor

SCUBA instructors must undergo a series of courses and supervised diving exercises before they can teach diving. Several international professional organizations offer programs for SCUBA instructors. Typically, these programs first train individuals on how to supervise dive activities by assisting SCUBA instructors. Instructors-in-training can then take a series of courses and logged supervised diving experiences to gain their instructor certification.

Additional training is available for SCUBA instructors to become certified in specialty areas, including search and rescue diving, deep diving and cave diving. Training is also available at commercial diving schools as well as colleges offering aquatics programs. Some colleges may offer certificate programs that include SCUBA training.


Most SCUBA instructors earn certification from a professional diving association such as the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) or the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). These organizations certify instructors who have met all of their requirements. Most employers of SCUBA instructors require them to be certified by an industry organization.

Additional Requirements

SCUBA instructors must be at least 18 years old and must have current certifications in rescue techniques, CPR and first aid. Training for these certifications is often included as part of the overall instructor training program.

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