Scuba Diving Photographer: Job Description and Requirements

Sep 22, 2019

SCUBA diving photographers require no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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SCUBA diving photographers are photographers who specialize in taking pictures underwater. They may work as freelancers, selling their work to publications like magazines, or work for companies needed this service. Photographers in general have a median annual salary of about $32,000.

Essential Information

SCUBA diving photographers document the many life forms and geographic formations that reside underwater. They may be hired by a variety of companies and industries, such as tourist dive shops and nature magazines. All divers must be SCUBA-certified and able to take good photographs under intense pressure.

Required Education None, though completion of underwater photography courses may be beneficial
Other Requirements SCUBA certification through accredited organization
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6% decline for all photographers
Median Salary (2018)* $34,000 for all photographers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

SCUBA Diving Photographer Job Description

Some SCUBA divers work as freelance photographers, submitting photos to various magazines, newspapers, websites or marine research facilities that are willing to pay for their art. Others may be hired as full-time photojournalists or stock photographers. Tourist dive shops may include the option to document a SCUBA experience for clients.

Competition for SCUBA diving photographer positions is frequently high, and openings are coveted because of the exciting nature of the job. The employment for photographers in general was expected to decrease by 6% from 2018-2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The salary of a SCUBA photographer varies greatly based on the hours spent in the water, the quality of photos, years of experience and the employer. However, the BLS reported an annual median salary for photographers in general of $34,000 in 2018.

Requirements to Become a SCUBA Diving Photographer

Certification Requirements

All SCUBA divers must be certified by an accredited SCUBA organization. Classroom and practical instruction teaches the proper techniques and safety procedures of SCUBA diving. The certification process varies depending on the school, but can be completed in as little as two days. Students must participate in multiple guided dives with a certified SCUBA instructor. Certifying organizations, such as the Professional Association of Diving Instructors or the National Association of Underwater Instructors, offer credentials based on the role of the diver and difficulty levels.

Education Information

Some institutions and schools offer courses designed to give students a good grasp on how to take pictures underwater. Lessons teach how to select and care for equipment, create lighting under difficult circumstances, choose subjects and master underwater photography skills. Although these courses are not required for SCUBA photographers, they can be a valuable tool in gaining the necessary experience. Applicants may be required to hold advanced-level SCUBA certification before enrolling.

Physical Requirements

The physical and mental demands required of a SCUBA photographer can be significant. Divers must be in good health to withstand the pressure changes of diving and master buoyancy to ensure clear images. Photographers must have a good sense of lighting, timing and subject matter in order to capture an image in a professional manner.

SCUBA diving photographers have no educational requirements, but may benefit from courses for photographers especially in the area of underwater photography. They must be certified as SCUBA divers in order to work and have strong physical stamina. While no employment data is available for SCUBA photographers, photographers in general were projected to have a decline in employment, but those who are self-employed may experience more opportunities.

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