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How to make money scuba diving

Want to make money scuba diving? Find out how much you can make and what it takes!

By 15 Min Read
Dive guide leading group underwater

Scuba diving is a lot of fun and most of us simply enjoy it as a hobby and nothing else.

However, with a little dedication, and creativity, scuba divers can find many ways to make money in the water, as well as on land.

To give you some inspiration, I have compiled this list of 10 ways to make money as a scuba diver in 2022.

While some of these tips won’t make you rich, they can be enough to at least finance your favorite sport and who knows…maybe more. 😉

Read through all of my suggestions or jump to the ones that interest you most.

1 Work as an instructor or dive guide

Let’s begin with the most obvious one. You can earn money working as a dive instructor or dive guide either freelancing or at a dive base.

If you are a certified scuba diver, you should already have an idea of the tasks and responsibilities these jobs involve.

Dive guide leading group underwater
Being a dive instructor is a lot of fun!

How do you make money?

Instructors teach scuba diving in theory and practice, including underwater skills, diving physics, rescue procedures, how to properly use scuba equipment, or how to achieve good buoyancy.

Dive guides on the other hand guide clients at their local dive sites and ensure they have a good time in and out of the water.

Some dive schools pay an hourly wage, while others give out a fixed amount per student or client.

You may also want to consider starting your own dive school or dive center or join Social Diving as a local dive guide.

What it takes

Training to become a dive professional is a long journey that can take up months or even years, depending on your experience, location, and training agency.

Naturally, your buoyancy, theoretical knowledge, and diving skills need to be top-notch to work as a dive instructor.

While it is not required to be an entertainer, good communication and social skills are a must-have, in addition to good air management and of course your own equipment.

Additional language skills (besides English) are a great asset and will make you more valuable in the industry.

After successful completion of their training, dive instructors usually work for a scuba diving school or as freelancers.

Some may also teach at a resort or hotel, but they are unlikely to do so exclusively unless the dive base is part of it.

How much you can make

Salaries vary a lot, and are dependent on experience, training agency, and location, among others. A full-time open water scuba instructor probably makes somewhere between $1,500 and $2,500 per month on average.

If you work as a freelancer or start your own dive school, this of course varies.

Your salary will greatly increase if you can offer special certifications, or teach tech or cave diving.

Dive guides are often Dive Leader trainees and as such don’t always get compensated for their work.

Is it worth it?

Working as a dive instructor or guide is not a get-rich-quick (or at all) scheme by any means.

However, you can expect diving for free, lots of fun, and incredible experiences.

That itself definitely makes it worth pursuing this path.

Moreover, training to become a dive professional will make you a better diver yourself, which to me is priceless. 😃

2 Take underwater pictures or videos for tourists and other divers

Divers (and tourists in general) are always fascinated by the magical world that lies beneath the surface of the water when they visit a new destination.

For many, it is not just about seeing but also capturing these moments on camera.

Underwater photographer inside structure
People always love cool photos of themselves underwater.

How do you make money?

A lot of scuba divers carry their own cameras while they’re underwater, which is a great way to remember special diving experiences forever.

However, often they are just as happy to get their pictures taken by someone else while they enjoy the dive.

Others simply don’t like taking extra pieces of equipment underwater and prefer to hire a professional photographer or videographer to capture their underwater adventures.

By selling your services or individual photos, you can make some decent money at any dive spot in the world.

If you are really good, you can also start selling your photos to magazines as mentioned further below.

What it takes

You can get started as an underwater photographer pretty easily.

All you need is a camera, good buoyancy, and an eye for taking good photos.

In the beginning, you may want to purchase a cheap underwater camera for beginners, but if you are serious about your photography, you should look at professional ones that can do a decent job in any scenario.

You may also consider renting a professional one when you first get started.

Besides an underwater camera, you will also need appropriate housing, as well as invest in a pair of decent lights.

I’ve seen a lot of scuba divers buy expensive cameras and then take awful photos because they did not ensure proper lightning.

How much you can make

Most underwater photographers I know set fixed prices per photo or per set.

This can range from anywhere between €1 and €100, depending on the setup, location and effort required.

If you are really good you can try and find a position on a liveaboard or at a dive resort to become a staff or freelance photographer for them.

In that case, you will often get free housing or cabin space and make between €20 and €200 for a full set of all images and videos of your guests’ visits.

Is it worth it?

It all depends on your level of skill. If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably make only a little extra money, if any, per photo.

If you are a professional with a large customer base, you can start charging more per shot.

Finally, and if you are really really (I mean super) good, you can even start selling your photos to agencies, magazines, or on stock image sites.

3 Find lost or abandoned items underwater

Have you ever seen people at the beach walk around with a metal detector looking for items buried in the sand?

Well, it can be incredibly fun and even make you some money to find these things underwater.

It might sound strange, but this is really fun.

There is already way too much trash in our oceans, lakes, and rivers so why not collect it to create something cool or give it back?

Coldwater diver in lake
You never know what you can find underwater!

How do you make money?

You’d be surprised what people lose in rivers, lakes, or close to the shoreline at tourist beaches.

Watches, credit cards, jewelry… even wallets.

If you are lucky to find something like that, you can sell or return the items for a profit.

Other times, you could actually charge people for looking for these items, especially, when they lost something valuable. Fishermen are often happy if you recover their sunken reels and nets for them, for example.

What it takes

To recover sunken items, you will have to have good knowledge about the area you are searching.

In addition, it is important to understand how to properly conduct search & recovery dives by taking the appropriate specialty course.

Keep in mind to always adhere to good diving etiquette and local regulations when searching for objects and only take things that clearly don’t belong into the water.

Leave only bubbles, take pictures and keep the memories.

Once you fulfill these criteria, can start by diving around looking for objects on the bottom of lakes or rivers.

How much you can make

I cannot give you an exact number or even an estimate on how much you can make from searching for sunk items.

I myself have found a few phones, rings, and dive computers over the years and usually returned them free of charge.

But if you are lucky to find something valuable you can potentially receive a nice tip.

Is it worth it?

In my opinion, searching for lost items is very situational and not something you can plan for.

Of course, you could start selling your search & recovery services but I am not convinced this is a good way to make much money.

Your best bet is simply keeping your eyes open at all times, and one day, you might find something valuable. 🙂

4 Clean up pools for your neighbors or hotels

Whether you’re cleaning a backyard pool for your neighbors or for a hotel or local business, this can be a great side hustle to make some extra money.

Finca with pool
People love their pools. And they love them clean.

How do you make money?

You clean the bottom of the pool or do minor repair services and get paid for what you do.

What it takes

With good preparation and the right equipment, pool cleaning is not difficult to do, if you know what to look out for.

Be prepared to spend at least two hours, usually 3 or more, in order to get the job done properly.

Besides scuba gear, you will need a (dive) buddy to make sure you stay safe at all times and special equipment depending on the job.

How much you can make

Clean-up services can easily pay you between €50 and €500 per hour, depending on the size and depth of the pool.

You can make even more by offering your services to a pool, resort, or other businesses.

In that case, however, you will most likely need a professional license to avoid legal issues.

Is it worth it?

This can be a great way to make extra money. The owners don’t have to empty and refill the entire pool while you only really need good dive equipment and a buddy to support you.

I remember one time I helped clean a pump for a gardening center a few years ago and they gave me an extra nice tip for that, on top of my hourly salary.

Please stay safe and don’t do anything that puts you and others in danger. If in doubt, decline to do a job and refer the person asking to a professional pool service provider.

5 Dive for golf balls at country clubs

Almost every golf course I know features some kind of water element such as a pond, a small stream, or bigger lakes.

Golf course operators and country clubs are always happy to get back their expensive golf balls and are willing to pay good money to those who help them with this.

Golf balls at lake
Diving for golf balls is a real business.

How do you make money?

You can either try to work out a contract with the golf course owners to pay you for returning the lost golf balls or resell the cleaned golf balls online.

What it takes

Dive gear, nets for the golf balls, and a knife or cutters for lines and other underwater debris are all you need to get started.

After you have found the golf balls, you will need a way to clean them properly and resell them at a profit.

How much you can make

In the USA, diving for golf balls is a big business, and even at other places around the world, you can make good money.

Depending on the time investment, professional golf ball divers make anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000 per year.

Used golf balls in near-mint condition can be sold for up to €1 per piece, while others only net you €0,10 to €0,20.

Is it worth it?

That’s a tough one. On the one hand, it is a fairly reliable way of earning some money on the side, on the other hand, it is tough and exhausting work.

You decide for yourself.

If you are interested in more info on the topic, check out this article that I really enjoyed reading.

Scuba diving trip packing list

6 Work as a local dive guide at Social Diving

Oh, I love this one. 🤩

Did you know you can be a local dive guide for Social Diving?!

The best part…you don’t even need to move away from where you live now. It’s like working from home…but better!

People frequently ask if Social Diving offers diving at a bunch of locations.

Often I can point them to a dive center we trust, offer a Social Diving trip ourselves, or plan out their dive travel for them.

However, not everyone wants to do an entire dive trip.

Diving watching squids underwater
Show others where you dive and make money with Social Diving!

Many only want to get a few dives in for a day or two wherever they travel to. And this is where you come into play:

Social Diving offers the My Social Diving® portal, where we connect dive guides and divers with each other.

Think of it as an Airbnb for scuba diving…without the ads and legal issues. 😃

Here, certified Dive Leaders, instructors, and experienced divers can offer their services as local dive guides, while divers can connect with them and enjoy authentic local diving.

How do you make money?

The Social Diving® portal offers two ways how you can get paid as a scuba diver.

  1. Post your next dives on our portal for a fixed or variable price
  2. Sign up as a local dive guide and we can refer interested scuba divers to you when they inquire

It sounds simple…because it is.

You are not employed by Social Diving, don’t have to work a minimum amount of hours and there are no paid ads necessary to get on the list.

What it takes

For now, only certified Dive Leaders, Divemasters (or equivalent), and dive instructors, and become local dive guides for Social Diving.

Sign up for the Social Diving

In the near future, I will try my best to work out how non-dive professionals can become local dive guides while following regulations and laws.

How much you can make

How much you make depends on a number of factors, such as (but not limited to) your experience, the type of diving you offer, the languages you speak, and where you guide guests.

Diving is not cheap – and should not be – so there is some very decent money to be made here. 😃

Is it worth it?

This one is a big yes.

It’s super worth it for the experience itself, the good times you’ll have with fellow Social Divers, and certainly, for the money, you can make.

Contact us to learn more! 🙂

7 Work as a commercial helmet diver

Commercial saturation (helmet) divers are the people who go underwater to do heavy construction and maintenance work at incredible depths.

Don’t know what I’m talking about?

Check out this video to see saturation divers in action:

How do you make money?

As a saturation diver, you are employed by underwater construction companies specialized in this area.

You get paid a monthly or annual salary or by job.

What it takes

Being a commercial diver requires a lot of special training and knowledge.

If you are going to be a saturation diver, you will first undergo training at a specialized dive commercial training center before finding employment at a big company.

This can take several years, however, you might already earn money while being in training.

Commercial saturation diving involves a lot of manual labor, as well as working at remote locations such as oil platforms and ships for weeks at a time.

If you are not okay with not seeing your family for extended periods of time, I cannot recommend taking up this career.

How much you can make

Saturation divers make a lot of money per year.

Salaries can range between €70,000 and €100,000, but it is entirely possible to go over €200,000 for very experienced and specialized workers.

Commercial helmet diver
At least you will always look cool while working.

Is it worth it?

Hard and strenuous labor, living in a small diving bell with your colleagues for weeks at a time, and unknown medical side effects caused by nitrogen exposure…what’s not to love about this job? 😄

On a serious note, commercial divers make a very good living, if they are dedicated and willing to work hard.

While it is true that they stay at remote locations during a job, you often only have to work a handful of jobs per year while enjoying your free time, the rest of the time.

You will also get to experience an environment that very few people on Earth will ever see or even know about.

8 Sell your underwater photos and videos online

Selling underwater photos and videos can help bring in extra income.

Companies like Nat Geo are always looking for new content, so it is worth contacting them to see if they would be interested in your work.

Nowadays, you can also sell your photos to stock-image companies like iStock, 123rf, or others.

Scuba diver with whale shark
You could be the next to be featured around the world.

How do you make money?

There are many ways to get paid for taking underwater photos and videos. Most work on a freelance or per-project base, while very few get a regular salary from broadcasting and media companies.

What it takes

It sounds simple, but it isn’t easy.

You essentially need to take really, really good photos and videos, preferably already have a number of references to show for and be able to market yourself and your work effectively.

You can also start posting your content to social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest to attract customers and a loyal following.

How much you can make

The best of the best can make some serious money by selling their underwater photos and videos.

Besides the income that comes in for your photos, many also make good money through their social media channels.

Is it worth it?

The path to becoming a successful photographer is difficult and takes time, dedication, and a lot of luck.

Taking underwater photos means you dive a lot, which I think is always worth it, and if you have a passion for photography it is certainly worth a shot.

Just like any other career in arts and media, however, enjoy the process, and don’t look too much to make a living out of it.

9 Start a scuba diving blog

Blogging can be fun. 😄

And it’s really easy to get started (albeit not easy to make any money from it).

Write about your experiences, review diving equipment, or travel to exotic places and share it with the world.

Digital nomad working next to pool
The digital nomad lifestyle intrigues many.

How do you make money?

There are about 125471092719 sites out there that will teach you how to start a successful blog.

A simple online search will give you all the information you need.

Monetizing your blog can be done in a number of ways, such as ad campaigns or affiliate marketing. However, it is best to offer your own products and services, too.

How about with your own Social Diving® franchise base? 😎

What it takes

On paper, blogging is super simple.

Find something you’re passionate about, for example traveling, tech diving, or helping out at the local aquarium, and start writing away.

Of course, you will need a website, some writing skills, dedication, and so on…

Did you know Social Diving was voted into the best scuba diving blogs in 2021 list?

How much you can make

I find writing articles to be a lot of fun which is the main reason I started doing it.
In addition, it is a great way to connect to my Social Divers, prospective clients, and anyone in the world who could be interested in what we offer.

Monetizing a blog is super dependent on your traffic and truth be told, in my case the most money comes from people interested in doing courses or going diving with us.

If you have your own scuba diving blog, why don’t you share it below in the comments?

10 Start your own dive base as a Social Diving franchise

If you want to make scuba diving a full-time job, why don’t you partner with Social Diving and open up your own dive center as a franchise?

We help you with everything from finding a good location, to setting up your legal papers and creating a successful concept for your dive base.

Infinity pool near beach in the Maldives
Why not start your own dive center as a Social Diving franchise?

Here are some benefits to opening up your own dive center with us as your partner:

  • We offer a one-stop shop for everything you need, from the lease to equipment to marketing, and customer support, all at one affordable price.
  • You’ll have total control of your day-to-day operations and can do things your way.
  • You’ll be backed by our experience in the industry and our strong customer base.
  • We help you with marketing and getting up and running in no time.

Start your Social Diving franchise today!

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Always dive with friends and happy bubbles. 😃

Cheers

Julius

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