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the truth about DM's

Discussion in 'Going Pro' started by tenacious, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. tenacious

    tenacious Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: 7 miles from the gulf stream
    I guess I could call myself a future divemaster candidate and I am curious about the reality of it. I hear all the jokes and sarcastic sayings, but I've never heard an actual first hand experience about life as a DM.

    I would like to believe that being a DM is just like anything else in life, if you suck at it you wont make any money or be happy doing it, but if you actually apply yourself and do a great job you can make a living.

    I also believe that DM is kind of a stepping stone in the process of becoming an instructor, (maybe I just don't know any better)? I don't think that being a DM is the final goal of anyone's pro scuba career, right?

    I would like to hear your real life story on becoming a DM, good or bad. Did you make enough chump change to survive?

    thank you in advance for your insights
    Briney likes this.
  2. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    I don't live in Florida, but around here, DMs aren't paid unless they do something like Discover Scuba or a refresher. Work with classes is unpaid. Work on charter boats is paid through tips, and is typically $5 a tank (or $10 a diver for a two-tank day, which ends up being roughly $60 to $100 for a day's work). You're lucky if you cover the cost of your DM insurance.
    AfterDark, Johanan, merxlin and 2 others like this.
  3. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    No one makes an actual living as a DM. Those that take on and actually make money as DM's are not. They are actually instructors. To a resort a DM is less attractive than a busboy. Unless you are also a compressor tech, have a captains license, can service regs, or do website design and maintenance. Diving wise you can't teach courses so no way to bring in real money for the operation. You can lead dives but so what? If you can't push more training on the sheep who need to be led all you might expect are tips. Unless again you can do the other stuff noted or tend bar, make up rooms, or other tasks a non diver can do.

    But it's not your fault. The blame lies with the glut of DM's who are sold a class rather than selected and interviewed before they are allowed to take it. And also with those who devalue the rating by being willing to work for free.
    KWS, biscuit, AfterDark and 8 others like this.
  4. kierentec

    kierentec Captain

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: High Springs, FL; Tulum, Mexico
    Many dive shops in FL employ dive masters to crew the boats and lead dives. The pay is minimal, and the work can be stressful and frustrating at times. However, you get to DIVE! Those who forget this will end up burnt out quickly. Unfortunately, being a DM is typically not an adequate means of earning a living, no matter how good you are. But many enjoy the work and do it either as supplemental income, or while working towards their instructor rating. A decent instructor can earn a living teaching alone...barely. An excellent instructor who is well versed in many aspects of diving and truly passionate about what they do can earn enough to live comfortably.

    Personally, I did not work as a DM for long. I went straight to my IDC after becoming a DM. I worked in the Caribbean as an instructor and captain for about 5 years before moving up to Florida to work for SDI/TDI/ERDI World HQ. When you make it down to PSL, make sure to stop by the office some time, we're just up the street in Jensen Beach.
  5. SailNaked

    SailNaked Dive Charter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: between 30° and 10°
    most DMs are instructors, however even so, DM is not a proffession except in other countries. you cant make a living. you cant even compete with a good job as a waiter. but you get all the girls, and you can post it on facebook. (well that may not be true either.).
  6. tenacious

    tenacious Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: 7 miles from the gulf stream
    $60-$100 a day, 6 days a week is $360-$600 a week then, correct? I am under the assumption that DM insurance is something like $350 a year? that could be wrong because the only posts I found on the insurance numbers are a few years old. I am trying to figure out how you couldn't pay a $350 a year insurance unless you only worked 1 week or less. (not being sarcastic)!

    ---------- Post added October 31st, 2013 at 05:16 PM ----------

    That is exactly the info I was looking for. My question may have been a bit unclear. I was trying to gauge weather or not I would come out monetarily negative, neutral, or buoyant as I logged dives and gained experience being a DM. I think you understood what I was asking better than I asked it. thank you!
    I will absolutely come check you guys out, I have an OW cert through you guys, and have completed the academic portion of your rescue course. I plan on getting my DM cert through you guys as well.

    Thank you!
    kierentec likes this.
  7. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    Pay: We get $300 for an OW course, which comes to about minimum wage hour wise. Adv. class is $150. Charters pay very little ($5/diver, not usually any tipping) and DSD, Scuba Review about $25 unless more than 2 students ($5 more per additional student I think)--wouldn't cover my gas costs getting there.
    Insurance: Here, mine is $147/year as I only take it for assisting classes. The full coverage (for charters, DSDs, etc.) is maybe $220. PADI membership maybe around $125 a year.

    It is for many a stepping stone to Instructor. For me it was the final goal.

    Agree with Jim: Too many DMs are sold a class and too many doing it for free-- why would a shop owner pay anyone?
    biscuit and oregondiver like this.
  8. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    And don't forget that out of that pay you need to pay for your transportation and meals to the dive site. Some shops/instructors might pick up your lunch or dinner. You also need to figure on equipment maintenance, income taxes, insurance and agency dues, any additional training you require, and the inevitable new gear you'll need to buy at some point. Whether it's a shop that requires you to look like a billboard for their lines, something breaks, or you just need it.
    scubaskipper likes this.
  9. tracydr

    tracydr Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina, 3 miles from South Carolina
    Same here. Most of us are either older professionals with other careers or young students with aspirations to become dive instructors.
    oregondiver likes this.
  10. bl6394

    bl6394 Cave Instructor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Mansfield, TX
    I DM for a great dive shop here in the MidWest - but I don't believe it possible to make a living as a DM, probably not even as a shop instructor - unless you already have a pension or some other source of income.

    I make my living as a Software Engineer. DM'ing allows me to dive, have fun with other people who enjoy diving, and defrays - a bit - of the cost of my hobby.

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