A Scuba Diving Instructor Salary Explained - How much do Dive Instructors earn?

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Saniflush

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Ucarkus

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Anyway, it's my old man fantasy about taking a year out to teach diving on a lovely location with lovely people.
I worked several years in the industry internationally when I was younger. Average working day was 12 hours and if you are lucky, you got 1 day off every 2 weeks. Often there was no time to spend any money or there was nothing to buy in your location even you had all the money in the world. Basically you could save nearly all you earned.
One of the jobs I did was at a 5 * instructor dev. centre (it meant much more those days) and this was the job I disliked most; a lot of push to sell equipment and continuing education. We would get a plan of attack at previous night with what courses planned for each instructor. Typical day consisted of 4-6 dives/training sessions. I could barely recognise the faces of the students because an expert crew already would equip the next batch of the students (sorted same way as in the list) so that as soon as previous session is over, you could go on with the next group. I peed so much into my suit that I would talcum powder my crotch every evening because it would hurt to walk. When I asked my boss to get a day off due this during high season, he advised me to put it to the left instead of right :).
I am not sure I would be able to do all that if I was an old man with a fantasy. Better to do it when you are young and don't waste the years ;-).
 

wetb4igetinthewater

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Would expect them to provide it if they're specifying the latest tat in the shop. Or expect a commission on each one sold.

Would also largely depend upon your skillset; if you're a know-nothing freshly certified DiveMASTER or are a highly experienced dive instructor with great skills.
Hahahaha!!!!!!!

Not even close in my area.

Jeez one co owner complains about DMs getting free air when they assist classes. It is just totally out of whack.
 

Wibble

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Hahahaha!!!!!!!

Not even close in my area.

Jeez one co owner complains about DMs getting free air when they assist classes. It is just totally out of whack.
Just sometimes it would be great to rock up driving a truck with a mobile compressor at half the price of the shop.
 

wetb4igetinthewater

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Just sometimes it would be great to rock up driving a truck with a mobile compressor at half the price of the shop.
Well, I am getting a used compressor (Bauer) set up in my garage. Got to have years of experience maintaining it before I open my dive center. I do want to have a booster for filling my CCR O2 bottle and be completely independent from shops.

I do need to look into liability issues regarding supplying other people with gas. Would be nice to provide nitrox fills. But this is the US. Need to see what regulations there are, what insurance costs there are. That would prevent me from providing services to others (even for free). As I don't think I'll be running my compressor enough to give me the experience of maintenance that I'd like.
 

boulderjohn

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I have heard a CD insist that a shop discount is a form of reimbursement. In other words, you need to spend more money in order to get "paid".
I am neither an attorney nor an accountant, but I am pretty sure this is technically true, at least in the USA. Check this out: Are Discounts Taxable Income | Discount Programs | WageWorks

I am also sure pretty much no one declares these discounts as income as they may be legally required to do so. In my view, in the USA, the scuba industry pay processes are filled with all sorts of such illegalities. These practices vary wildly by the area.
  • In some areas, dive shops have a staff of part time instructors who are classified as contractors rather than employees, and it is much better for the shop's bottom line that way. Under IRS rules, however, these instructors are supposed to be employees. Two shops in my area had to make that change, I suspect because they got legal advice that they could be in big trouble for paying them as contractors.
  • In the USA, everyone is supposed to make at least the federal minimum wage. They can be paid less than that in cases where tips are part of the job, but if tips do not bring them up to minimum wage, management is supposed to make up the difference. In many cases where I was employed as an instructor, we did not come close to making minimum wage, especially if you considered when we started the job (loading gear) to when we finished (putting it away). This was especially true for me when I began to be seen as the advanced diving/technical diving instructor, where I was paid the same per pupil rate as everyone else but had only 1-2 students in a class. Tips for scuba instruction are extremely rare, so saying you were paid less than minimum wage because of the potential for tips is a joke. When I told them about the rules about minimum wage, it was news to them. They thought that it was perfectly legal to pay instructors $2-$3 per hour because every couple years they get a tip.
  • I have gone on many dive boats in South Florida where we are told that the divemasters work for tips alone. I am pretty sure that is illegal--at least that was the consensus of a thread we had on this practice a few years ago. One boat I used a lot was called on this, and their spiel converted to saying that a substantial portion of the DM's pay comes from tips.
  • In most cases I know of, DMs used as instructional assistants are very much underpaid--some aren't paid at all, working for the aforementioned shop discounts. I am sure that is illegal.
  • When I was a DM, I taught a lot of Discover Scuba classes in the pool, including especially birthday parties. Discover Scuba actually takes more work than an OW class because the OW students set up and break down their gear, but in Discover Scuba, you have to do it all. Sometimes I got a tip for teaching such a class, with the people no doubt assuming they were giving me a little extra money for a job well done. In all such cases, the tip they gave me was more money than what I was paid.
 

wetb4igetinthewater

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Well when I did my DMC, we had to act as DMs for open water courses. When I asked later in rhe shop "hey isn't that a standards violation?" I kid you not, owner who was an MI later becoming a CD said "La! La! La! I'm not listening!"

That was a wakeup call.
 

TMHeimer

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I waited a while before throwing out my usual lines on this common topic.
If you're an instructor willing to work for lousy, possibly less than minimum wage, it's your own fault.
If you're a DM working for zip, perks or tips only, you are degrading the term "dive pro".
I got $300 CAD for 2 weekend type OW courses during my 4 years as a DM assisting, which came to about minimum wage.
Considering that the DM course itself is a fair bit more training that learning to flip burgers, I almost felt guilty about getting minimum wage. And people say even getting that pay was a rarity.
I got maybe $20 an hour as a Band teacher (of course that's a Univ. degree) and enjoyed that too, but would never have done that for perks.
Get a day job and just dive. Don't keep the cycle of low instructor pay going on & on. Mentor someone on the side if you want to teach. Or, all of you get together and unionize or just quit.
 
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