Scuba Diving Salaries: Top 10 Professions

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While scuba diving for recreational purposes is fun and adventurous, the reality is that there are no less than 10 professions that involve scuba diving. There are scuba diving guides and instructors, but there is much more than that. This article looks at the scuba diving salaries you can expect to make as a professional scuba diver.  

Scuba Diving Salaries 

Here are the 10 most popular scuba diving professions and how much each pays. 

1. Dive Guide 

As one who guides other people on their scuba diving adventures, you can expect to earn on average between $18,000 and $36,000 per year. 

2. Dive Instructor  

Being a dive instructor is vital because you teach the next generation of scuba divers how to stay safe. So with that being said, you’d think that a diving instructor would make more than an average of $22,000 per year. However, in the US, your average scuba diving instructor can earn between $35,000 and $40,000 per year, although around $20,000 per year is the norm. 

3. Public Safety Diver  

A public safety diver is a diver who engages in underwater diving as part of law enforcement or search and rescue efforts. The difference between this kind of diving and other types of diving is that public safety diving usually happens at a moment’s notice, such as if a vehicle goes over a bridge and into the water. 

Public safety divers can expect to make between $30,000 and $100,000 per year. Generally speaking, this is a somewhat lower-paid job because it can be a government job instead of being a part of the private sector. 

4. Marine Biologist 

If you like studying animals and want to help preserve the world for future generations, being a marine biologist could be a good profession for you. On average, as a marine biologist, you can expect to make around $80,000 per year. The salary range for this profession is from $32,000 per year to  $127,000 per year. 

5. Rescue Diver 

If saving lives is important to you, there is nothing better to be than a rescue diver. As a rescue diver, you can expect to make anywhere from $30,000 to over $90,000 per year, with the median annual salary for rescue divers being around $55,000. 

However, keep in mind that becoming a rescue diver involves quite an intensive certification process. 

6. Search and Recovery Diver 

Recovery diving involves searching for and bringing items that have fallen overboard back to the surface. A search and recovery diver may also be known as an underwater salvage diver. 

As a search and recovery diver, you can expect to make around $54,000 annually. The top earners make about $93,000 per year. Just like rescue diving, becoming an underwater salvage driver also requires a very intensive training process. 

Scuba Diving Salaries

7. Underwater Photographer 

If you’re into photography and scuba diving, something you may want to consider is becoming an underwater photographer. In the US, the average salary for an underwater photographer ranges from $10,000 to nearly $300,000 per year.

The median wage for underwater photographers is around $51,000 per year. Most underwater photographers make anywhere from $51,000 to $130,000 per year. 

8. Underwater Welder 

Welding is an already demanding profession on its own, let alone when you factor in scuba diving. Although this is a difficult job, which is also quite dangerous underwater, welders can earn top dollar.

On average, most underwater welders make between $25,000 and $85,000 per year. However, a well-trained professional working for a good company can pull in over $100,000 per year with ease. 

9. Underwater Archaeologist  

Underwater archaeologists, otherwise known as marine archaeologists, in the US can earn from $13,000 to $370,000 per year. 

The median salary for underwater archaeologists is roughly $66,000, with the middle 57% making anywhere from $66,000 to $166,000 annually. If you like archaeology and scuba diving, this could be the perfect profession for you. 

10. Golf Ball Diver 

You would think that being a diver who focuses primarily on retrieving golf balls on golf courses is not a very glamorous job. However,  this is actually quite lucrative. 

On average, a golf ball diver can earn anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 per year. The rates here are sometimes as high as $100 or $200 per ball retrieved. Find just 10 balls, and you have a good day’s pay.  


As you can see, if you get into the right kind of scuba diving, you actually stand to make a very decent annual salary. 

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