Born to dive but forced to work? Why not pursue a career in scuba diving? Below is a list of the most common scuba diving jobs you can get, from being a PADI Instructor or travel blogger to more extreme scuba diving jobs, such as underwater investigation or golf ball diving!

Most of these scuba diving jobs will require a Divemaster or Instructor certification. Become a PADI Professional, and you’ll always have a ‘Plan B’. Keep reading to learn about the different types of scuba jobs and what qualifications and skills are needed to get started.

A silhouette of a scuba student under the surface of the ocean with a PADI Instructor, one of the top dive jobs in the world

1. Dive Guide or Dive Instructor

A PADI Divemaster or Instructor certification is one of the best ways to move your office underwater. If you enjoy having incredible encounters underwater and meeting people from all over the world, becoming a PADI Instructor or Dive Guide might just be the perfect job for you.

Whether you work on a liveaboard, travel the world working at different resorts, or work at a PADI Dive Shop near you, you’ll make lifelong friends and have experiences you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Read how becoming a PADI Dive Instructor gives you real-world benefits.

Thinking about trading in your office shoes for a pair of fins? Here are real-life stories of people who quit their jobs to become scuba instructors.

A display of scuba diving masks on the wall in a PADI Dive Shop, a business that offers great scuba diving job opportunities

2. Dive Shop Owner or Manager

Experience in marketing and/or retail sales is highly valued in the dive industry. Many scuba operations are run by people who love diving but aren’t, for example, experts in PPC marketing or retail design. If you’re passionate about scuba diving, but not a Divemaster or Instructor (yet), managing a dive shop can be a great place to start. After all, they are at the heart of the dive industry.

Ever thought about opening a dive shop? Be your own boss, transform lives, and be an ambassador for the ocean (not to mention have the world’s best job title). Learn more about how to open a PADI Dive Shop.

A scuba dive boat anchored in the ocean which is the office for several diving careers including dive guides and captains

3. Boat Captain

A captain’s license can open many doors, especially in the dive industry. A boat captain’s main role is to command and operate the boat. Additional tasks may include conducting safety drills, navigation, and making adjustments based on environmental conditions. Also, many of the world’s best dive sites can only be accessed by boat, so boat captains are highly sought after and go hand-in-hand with scuba diving jobs around the world.

Read about how PADI Pro Andrew Raak became a PADI IDC Staff Instructor and upgraded his captain’s license to a 200 ton Masters.

A public safety diver wearing a drysuit and who undertakes underwater investigation work including search and recovery jobs

4. Public Safety Diver

Because PADI focuses on recreational diving, we’re not focusing on military or commercial diving jobs (such as deep-sea diving jobs) in this article. You can, however, train to be a Public Safety Diver at certain PADI Dive Centers. A Public Safety Diver must learn to master all basic scuba skills.

Law enforcement agencies need highly trained divers to conduct underwater investigations and recover evidence. PADI’s Public Safety Diver course teaches scene handling, communications, documentation, and other key skills you’ll need to join a public safety diving team. Learn more about PADI’s Public Safety Diver course and its prerequisites, or read our interview with Mike Berry, Operations Coordinator for the Virginia State Police Search and Recovery Team.

A scuba diver doing coral research conservation in the ocean, one of many scuba diving jobs around the world for scientists

5. Scientific Research Diver

A scientific research diver refers to a scientist performing studies underwater, using scuba diving as a tool to do so. Scientific divers gather and collect data about the underwater world. Oftentimes, scientists need to be well-versed in biology, archeology, and/or geology. Since scientific research divers observe and collect data in numerous underwater environments, it is important to be comfortable in all conditions.

It is recommended, at a minimum, to have a Divemaster certification. Read what scientific diver, Charlie Beeker, has to say about choosing this position as a career.

A green seagrass meadow extending into the distance against a blue ocean, which is the subject of many marine biologist jobs

6. Marine Biologist

Marine biologists study a wide variety of marine organisms, both plants and animals. Many marine biologists choose to specialize in a specific organism. For example, one biologist might choose to specialize in microscopic plankton while another marine biologist might choose to specialize in sharks. Tasks include observing organisms in their natural environment, gathering data, studying the characteristics of a species, monitoring and managing populations, and reporting any new or updated information about findings.

Marine biologists have one of the most purposeful scuba diving careers. They teach us a lot about the underwater world and even help us better ourselves as human beings. They share important information about ocean health with communities, businesses, and other scientists through reports, images, and underwater videos.

Two archeologists exploring an underwater museum, which is one of many scuba diving jobs that PADI Professionals might do

7. Underwater Archeologist

We can learn a lot about history through artifacts found beneath the surface. Would you like to explore the depths to seek, study, and investigate artifacts left behind by humankind? How about exploring underwater museums? Underwater archeologists recover information that has been submerged to learn more about human history.

Being an underwater archeologist can have numerous challenges depending on the environment, but can be very fulfilling. This job typically requires advanced degrees and certifications. Learn how a rebreather or PADI Instructor certification can give you a leg-up in this competitive field.

8. Golf Ball Diver

Golf ball divers retrieve golf balls that have been hit into ponds by athletes. The golf balls are then cleaned, processed, and recycled for future use. Golf ball diver jobs require an unrestricted commercial scuba diving certification, first aid certification, and Rescue Diver certification. Each individual golf course may require additional qualifications.

Many golf ball divers choose to work part-time since the workload and overall income isn’t always stable. If you are looking for a side job and want to dive in a little deeper, watch the video above to see if this could be a job for you.

An aerial shot of a tropical dive destination which makes an ideal topic for travel bloggers with careers in scuba travel

9. Travel Blogger

If you’re passionate about exploring new places and sharing advice, why not make a career out of it? Travel bloggers research, observe, and write down their experiences as they travel around the world. What’s more, those who also dive—like PADI AmbassaDiver Florine—are able to visit and share the beauty of places most people have never heard of. In addition, they gather important first-hand information about the health of our oceans, using their blogging platform as a way to advocate positive change. Use your scuba certification to connect with others and grow your network.

An underwater photographer with a professional camera and strobe set-up, one of many different types of scuba diving careers

10. Underwater Photographer or Videographer

Have you ever been on a dive, just wishing other people could see the beauty of the underwater world? Maybe you’ve always loved photography, but want to take your camera skills to a whole new level. This job might be for you.

Underwater photographers and videographers capture what life is like below the surface. Being underwater with a camera allows you to capture all the marine life, sounds, and dynamic motions that occur during a dive. While the main job is to shoot all of this activity, you’ll also need to be knowledgeable about how to make necessary adjustments. There can be many challenges while shooting underwater which can distort the lighting, coloring, and/or staging. Check out these experts’ tips for professional photography.

Also, read how you can save the ocean with underwater photography. Follow underwater photographers focused on conservation, like Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier, on social media to learn more.

You might be thinking, “Where do I start?” or “What qualifications are needed to be an underwater photographer?” First, it starts with learning how to dive and learning how to be comfortable handling a camera underwater. PADI offers a Digital Underwater Photography course as well as an Underwater Videography course. These courses will help you advance to the next level when it’s time to apply.

The silhouette of a scuba diver next to the hull of a boat which can be cleaned by someone certified in commercial diver jobs

11. Underwater Boat Hull Cleaning

Have you ever seen a boat appear green on the bottom? This is due to algae growth and buildup that can occur over time. Boat captains need to make sure they keep up with annual maintenance and have hull cleanings done. Certified divers go under the boat to clean the hull, inspect mechanical equipment, and examine the boat’s overall condition. If this sounds interesting, be sure to contact your local PADI Dive Shop to see if there are any cleaning jobs for scuba divers available and/or what qualifications are needed for the position.

PADI Professional Mermaids Elle Jimenez, Elaina Thomas, and Great Chin Burger posing on a sandy beach next to the ocean

12. Professional Mermaid

As mermaiding rises in popularity, so does the range of job opportunities for people who’d rather swap feet for fishtails. First and foremost, PADI Mermaids are always ambassadors for the underwater world. Combining their enchanting appearance with a public-facing career, they can easily captivate the attention of the wider public to raise awareness of important ocean issues.

For example, an entertainer might attend kids’ parties to excite and educate younger generations about the ocean. A mermaid model or performer might talk at conservation events, star in movies, or appear in advertising. Finally, PADI Mermaid Instructors work around the world to share their passion and grow the mermaid community. Learn more about professional mermaid careers.

A group photo of PADI office staff next to the swimming pool at PADI Americas where you might find scuba diving job vacancies

13. PADI Office Staff

There are a few reasons why you might be ready (or don’t want) to swap your office desk for the ocean. You might still be working towards the scuba or academic certifications you need for your dream underwater job. Perhaps you’re taking time out from scuba diving for medical reasons. Or maybe you’d rather keep underwater time for you, and you alone.

Whatever the reason, if you’re seeking a traditional office role but still want to talk about the ocean all day with coworkers and customers who are just as passionate about the ocean as you are, then consider applying for a career at a PADI Office. With varied roles available—from customer services and marketing to accounting, business management, and IT—you’ll be able to use your existing skills and experience to support PADI Members and scuba divers around the world.

Two astronauts underwater in NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Lab where safety divers have one of the world's best scuba diving jobs

Additional Dream Jobs for Scuba Divers

Our list above includes scuba diving jobs that are truly attainable with time, effort, and patience. The scuba jobs below require talent as well as a bit of luck in addition to hard work:

A scuba diving instructor and PADI Professional using good communication skills to teach and debrief a student after a lesson

Skill-Up for Scuba Diving Jobs

While the majority of careers in scuba diving featured on this list need a Professional-level certification, such as PADI Divemaster or PADI Instructor, there are also a few other skills you’ll find helpful to develop as you work towards these dream jobs. For example:

  • Communication: Whether you’re teaching a nervous scuba student, explaining research results to scientists, or talking to kids about ocean conservation, good communication is a must for most jobs. In addition, skills such as public speaking and additional languages are a bonus, too.
  • Resilience: Scuba diving jobs are rewarding but can also be challenging. These jobs might involve poor conditions, bulky equipment, or long hours in remote places. Prepare yourself by taking PADI Specialty courses and expanding your experience with different types of diving destinations.
  • Photography: Unless your chosen career is photography, you don’t need to be an expert. But a basic grasp of taking underwater pictures will help scientists, archeologists, and underwater investigators to document their findings. Similarly, business owners and bloggers rely on great images to accompany their marketing efforts.

Learn more about the top skills for aspiring PADI Pros.

An image of a scuba diver visiting a colorful wreck, with the words born to dive forced to work superimposed over the top

How to Make Scuba Diving a Career

If you love scuba diving, there are plenty of ways to earn a living while pursuing an ocean-focused career. Taking the first step is super easy. Contact your local PADI Dive Center or Resort to learn more about becoming a PADI Professional. Or, get started with a free Introduction to PADI Divemaster with PADI eLearning.

Then, once you’re a PADI Professional, you can search for scuba diving jobs worldwide on the PADI Jobs Board. In addition, some dive shops host special events where you can meet local dive professionals and learn about their career paths. You can also read interviews with people in a variety of full-time scuba diving jobs.

Simply becoming a PADI Pro offers many benefits, even if you decide not to pursue diving as a full-time career. Part of learning how to teach scuba includes learning how to break down complicated information and give constructive feedback, which are useful skills for any career. You may also be able to earn college credit. Read our top reasons to become a Professional—some of them may surprise you!

What are you waiting for? Take your first step toward a career as a PADI Professional today.

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