Salary and Career Info for Diving Instructors

Scuba diving instructors require a significant amount of specialized training to help others learn the art of underwater exploration. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

To have the best chances of getting hired as a diving instructor, you will need to earn a scuba instructor certification by passing a training course. These courses are offered by different agencies, and will show that you have the necessary diving skills and knowledge to teach customers safely. Work life and salary for a diving instructor can both vary considerably depending on a number of factors.

Essential Information

Scuba diving instructors need to be certified by an international agency to be hired by credible diving outlets. Among other things, instructor certification requires completion of training courses and diving experience. Diving instructors' salaries vary by season, proximity to water and the economy.

Required Education Vocational training courses
Other Requirements Certification; Extensive diving experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 15% for all self-enrichment teachers*
Median Salary (2015) $36,680 for all self-enrichment teachers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Diving instructors teach others how to explore the depths using scuba equipment. Diving instructors teach people at all skill levels - from beginners to assistant instructors - how to properly use the required equipment. They teach proper diving procedures in the classroom, pool and open water. At the beginner's level, an instructor teaches basic underwater breathing techniques. At a more advanced level, an instructor may work with a certified diver who is interested in becoming a rescue diver.

Diving Instructors Salary Info

According to the College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC), a determining factor in a diving instructor's salary is his or her proximity to the water; coastal regions may offer the most employment opportunities. Additionally, whether one decides to instruct on a full- or part-time basis will affect earnings. Someone who moonlights or works part-time as a diving instructor may make significantly less. The CFNC notes that diving instructors' salaries may fluctuate according to the season, with warmer months drawing in larger crowds.

Diving instructors' salaries also depend on the economy. When times are tight, scuba instructors may find a decrease in available work. Scuba diving may be seen as a luxury, and many people may discontinue or choose not to take up lessons during an economic downturn.

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't provide statistics for scuba instructors, it does count them among all self-enrichment teachers. Professionals in that category made a median of $36,680 per year as of 2015.

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Several levels of certification courses are offered both for divers and diving instructors. Certified divers may enjoy easier access to the necessary rental equipment and diving destinations. It may also qualify them to participate in more advanced training courses. Scuba Educators International (SEI) offers diver certification at several levels, from basic open water diving on up to master diver. Specialty courses are also available that lead to certification in nitrox diving, reef ecology diving and diver rescue.

Several levels of certification are also available for diving instructors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), certification isn't always required to work as a diving instructor; however, most employers prefer it and many credible diving outlets require it. There is no centralized agency for certification, but there are several large international certification agencies recognized by diving outlets. Each agency has its own criteria for certification, which generally include completion of a training program and a certain number of hours of diving experience. Most certifying agencies, such as SEI, offer step-by-step classes for becoming a diving instructor.

A person pursuing diving instructor certification can expect to take 3-5 years to complete scuba instructor training. However, it can be done in as little as 15 months in some cases. As long as the required courses, instruction and diving time are available, certification can be expedited. According to SEI, potential instructors should expect to pay for courses, materials and the necessary equipment. Costs depend on the items the prospective instructor chooses.

After completing scuba instructor training, a diving instructor can work part time or full time teaching people how to dive. The instructor training course and subsequent certification is not necessarily required, but most reputable diving companies only hire certified instructors. Specialty training exists as well, which may qualify diving instructors to teach more advanced courses.

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