New PADI instructors often ask me “What is the best country to work in as a diving instructor?”
I cannot determine the “best” place to work as a diving instructor, as it ultimately depends on your personal preferences and priorities.
I am happy to share what I know through my own experience and that of my instructor friends so you can make your own decision and start looking for your dream job!

For those who are only interested in the numbers, let’s dive right in with a summary of dive instructor salary and living expenses per country.

 

Country Monthly Salary for Diving Instructors (Approximate) Monthly Living Costs (Approximate)
Thailand €800 to €1,400 €500 to €1000
Indonesia €500 to €1,000 €300 to €800
Philippines €350 to €600 €300 to €600
Maldives €800 to €2,000 €300 to €800
South of Europe €1,200 to €2,500 €800 to €1,200
Egypt €350 to €500 €300 to €500
Dominican Republic €800 to €1400 €850 to €1,500
Mexico €500 to €1,000 €600 to €1,300
Honduras €600 to €1,200 €400 to €600

 

Of course, the salary can vary depending on many factors, such as your experience, qualifications, and the diving center you work for. These numbers are only very rough estimates.
The monthly living costs listed in the table above include expenses such as rent, food, transportation, and other basic necessities. And of course, the actual living costs may also vary quite a lot, depending on individual circumstances and lifestyle choices.

The best country to work in as a diving instructor does not only depend on average salary and living costs but depends on many factors and your personal preferences. Here is a comparison between different countries based on diving, work opportunities, lifestyle, cost of living, and dive tnstructor salary.

scuba diving bidah nok thailand

Thailand

Diving:
Thailand is known for its beautiful diving locations, such as Koh Tao, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket, and Similan Islands. These locations offer crystal clear waters, colorful coral reefs, and diverse marine life, making them ideal for teaching diving courses.
The marine life on the east and west coasts of Thailand varies. The east coast is known for the colorful coral reefs and a huge variety of tropical fish, while the west coast is known for its larger marine life, such as whale sharks and manta rays.

Dive instructor job opportunities:
Thailand is a popular destination for travelers and backpackers who are interested in learning to dive. This means that there is a high demand for diving instructors, especially during peak season. While diving is a year-round activity in Thailand, the peak tourist season is roughly from November to May.

Lifestyle:
There is a large diving community in Thailand that is friendly and welcoming. You’ll have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and work with other passionate diving professionals.
The west coast (Phuket, Koh Phi Phi) tends to be more developed and tourist-oriented, while the east coast islands generally have a more laid-back vibe in smaller beach towns.

Cost of living:
Thailand has a lower cost of living compared to many other countries, but generally, on the west coast, the cost of living is a bit higher than on the east coast.

Dive Instructor Salary:
The salary for diving instructors in Thailand can vary quite a bit, depending on several factors, such as the location, the type of diving center, and your level of experience and qualifications. Diving courses on the east coast of Thailand are relatively cheap, but groups are generally larger so there is no significant difference in diving instructor salaries between the east and west coasts of Thailand.

Bali festival

Indonesia

Diving:
Indonesia is home to some of the world’s most stunning diving locations, such as Bali, Komodo, and Raja Ampat. These locations offer a very diverse range of marine life, from manta rays to colorful coral reefs to macro-life.

Bali and the Gili Islands are known for their vibrant coral reefs and abundance of marine life, including sea turtles and reef sharks. Komodo is known for its strong currents and larger marine life, such as manta rays and sharks, while Raja Ampat is known for its incredible biodiversity and the chance to see rare species of marine life and undisturbed coral reefs.

Indonesia is an ideal location for experienced diving instructors who love the biodiversity and vibrant underwater environments however, some dive sites can be challenging due to strong and unpredictable currents.

Dive instructor job opportunities:
Locations like Bali, Gili Islands, Komodo, and Raja Ampat are popular among diving instructors. Each of these locations can be a great place to work as a diving instructor. It’s important to consider your personal preferences, such as the type of diving you enjoy, the cost of living, and the lifestyle you’re looking for when making your decision.

Lifestyle:
Bali is more developed and tourist-oriented, and the Gili Islands are popular among backpackers and party-goers. Komodo and Raja Ampat are more remote and geared towards adventure-seeking divers, often diving from a liveaboard. This means that you may need to work and live in more isolated areas, which can be both challenging and rewarding.

Cost of living:
Generally speaking, the cost of living in Indonesia is relatively low. It can vary between different locations, with Bali and the Gili Islands generally being more affordable than Komodo and Raja Ampat. However, these tourist-oriented locations offer more opportunities to blow your dive instructor salary in the bars, so your cost of living ultimately depends on your lifestyle.

Dive Instructor Salary:
The salary for a diving instructor in Indonesia can provide a comfortable standard of living, particularly if combined with affordable accommodation and living costs. Instructor salary can vary depending on the location, the reputation and quality of the dive center, and your experience and qualifications. For instance, you can potentially earn a higher salary if you are qualified to teach PADI Specialty courses.

Moalboal cebu

Philippines

Diving:
One of the biggest advantages of working as a diving instructor in the Philippines is the variety of available dive sites. The country is home to many world-renowned dive sites; Tubbataha Reef with its deep drop-offs, Apo coral reefs, macro diving in Anilao, abundant marine life in Bohol, and Coron Wrecks, just to name a few. With so many unique and diverse diving destinations, the Philippines is a popular destination for diving enthusiasts from all over the world.

The Philippines has a tropical climate with warm temperatures throughout the year. During the monsoon season (May to October) the weather can be unpredictable but there are still some diving locations that remain accessible and offer good conditions.

Dive instructor job opportunities:
Although the tourism industry in the Philippines may not be as large as in Indonesia or Thailand, it has been growing steadily in recent years. The Philippines has developed a thriving scuba diving industry, with several dive centers, resorts, and liveaboard operators offering a wide selection of PADI courses. Diving in the Philippines attracts a diverse range of divers from beginners to experienced, from around the world. This means there may be specific opportunities to teach not only entry-level courses but also PADI Specialty courses and even Tec-diving courses.

Lifestyle:
The Philippines has a laid-back and friendly culture that is attractive to many diving instructors. The pace of life is slower, and people are generally welcoming and hospitable. The Philippines is a diverse country with a mix of indigenous and foreign cultures. This makes it an exciting place to live and work, with plenty of opportunities to learn and explore new things.

Cost of living:
The cost of living in the Philippines is generally lower compared to other Asian countries. However, living costs in popular tourist destinations such as Boracay or Palawan can be higher compared to smaller cities or towns.
It’s also worth noting that the fees for work permits and visas in the Philippines can be relatively low compared to other Asian countries.

Dive Instructor Salary:
The salary for a diving instructor in the Philippines can vary quite a lot depending on your experience, qualifications, and location. Some diving instructors in popular destinations such as Boracay or Palawan can earn more, particularly if they are teaching PADI specialty courses or Tec courses. It’s also common for diving instructors in the Philippines to receive tips and commissions on equipment sales and dive courses, which can add to your overall income.

vilamendhoo

Maldives

 Diving:
The Maldives is known for its exceptional diving sites and is considered one of the top dive destinations in the world. The Maldives is known for its larger marine life, including whale sharks, manta rays, and various species of sharks.

The Maldives offers a diverse range of dive sites, from easy to challenging. Easy dive sites in the Maldives typically have calm waters, shallow depths, little to no current, and good visibility, making them ideal for new divers. Difficult dive sites in the Maldives, on the other hand, can be quite challenging due to strong currents and deeper depths, making them only suited for experienced divers.

Dive instructor job opportunities:
The Maldives is a popular destination for luxury diving resorts, which means that there are plenty of opportunities for diving instructors. There are over 100 resorts in the Maldives, many of which have dive centers that employ diving instructors. Additionally, there are liveaboard companies that offer diving trips around the Maldives.

The competition for jobs can be quite high, so having teaching experience and speaking multiple languages can be beneficial.

Lifestyle:
The lifestyle of a diving instructor in the Maldives can be quite luxurious, as the Maldives is known for its high-end resorts and stunning natural beauty. Many dive centers and resorts allow their employees to access resort facilities such as swimming pools and spas. However, it is important to note that the Maldives is a Muslim country, and even on the island resorts certain religious norms like alcohol consumption and dress codes should be respected.

Although working on a paradise island may sound very appealing, most island resorts are very small and you may find it difficult to adjust to the isolation and limited social activities. Luckily, many dive centers in the Maldives offer opportunities for their instructors to work on different islands, which can help to alleviate ‘island fever’.

Cost of living:
Many dive centers provide (often shared) accommodation and meals, as part of the employment package. However, travel costs may be higher due to the need to use boats or seaplanes to travel between islands. Other consumer goods and dive equipment are generally more expensive compared to other countries.

Dive Instructor Salary:
The monthly salary for a diving instructor in the Maldives is relatively high compared to other countries. Many dive centers provide employment packages that may or may not include accommodation, meals, travel costs, and costs for the work permit, so it is important for diving instructors to carefully research and negotiate a salary and employment package.

santorini

Europe – Spain, Italy, Greece

Diving:
While diving in Spain, Italy, and Greece may not have the same level of diversity and abundance of marine life found in some other parts of the world, particularly in the tropics, it can still offer some excellent dive sites.

Some popular diving spots in Spain include the Costa Brava, Costa del Sol, and the Canary Islands. Italy also offers a range of diving opportunities, particularly along its southern coast and the island of Sardinia. Greece is known for its clear waters and ancient shipwrecks, particularly in the Aegean Sea.

Dive instructor job opportunities:
There certainly are job opportunities for diving instructors available in Spain, Italy, and Greece however, they may not be as abundant as in other regions, like Southeast Asia.

In general, the dive industry in the south of Europe tends to be smaller and more seasonal, with most dive centers operating only during the summer months. Additionally, there may be more competition for available jobs, because local instructors may apply for the same positions.

Lifestyle:
The lifestyle for diving instructors in Spain, Italy, and Greece can be quite enjoyable. The climate in the south of Europe is generally milder and less humid compared to tropical countries but you can still enjoy warm temperatures and sunny weather for much of the year.

Although there are cultural differences between Spain, Italy, Greece, and the rest of Europe, you don’t have to adapt your ‘Western lifestyle’ as much as when you work in Asia or Central America.
The local population is generally friendly and welcoming, and you can enjoy good food, wine, and local culture.

Dive operations in southern Europe tend to be more structured and organized compared to dive centers in tropical countries, with a greater emphasis on safety protocols, equipment maintenance, and customer service.
If you are a European citizen you can save the hassle with a work permit and visa that you would need in dive destinations outside Europe.

Cost of living:
In general, the cost of living in European countries, in terms of housing, food, and travel is higher than in Asian or Central American countries. However, the cost of living can vary significantly even within a country.

Dive Instructor Salary:
Generally, the salary of a diving instructor in southern European countries tends to be higher than in tropical destinations. However, this can vary greatly depending on factors such as the dive center’s size, location, and the instructor’s level of experience and qualifications.

Some dive centers may provide staff accommodations, either on-site or nearby, while others may offer a housing allowance to help cover rent expenses. Other dive centers may also offer additional benefits such as commissions on dive courses and equipment sales. It’s best to inquire directly with the dive centers to see what they offer in terms of staff benefits and packages.

Egypt

Diving:
Egypt is one of the top dive destinations in the world. The diving in the Red Sea can be compared to some of the best diving spots in Asia, such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand.
The water temperature in Egypt is generally a bit colder than in Asia and varies between 21-30°C, depending on the season. The Red Sea is known for its crystal-clear waters, with visibility often exceeding 30 meters.

Egypt has a lot of great dive spots. Some of the most popular and well-known ones are The Blue Hole in Dahab, Tiran Island and Ras Mohammed close to Sharm El Sheikh, Thistlegorm Wreck, and Brothers Islands.

Dive instructor job opportunities:
Egypt offers many employment opportunities for diving instructors. There are many dive centers along the Red Sea coast, particularly in Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh, Marsa Alam, and Dahab.
However, the diving industry in Egypt is not as large as in some Asian countries, such as Thailand and Indonesia, which are known for their high numbers of certifications.

There is generally a high level of competition to get a job as a diving instructor in Egypt. The majority of diving instructors in Egypt are foreigners but there is also competition from local dive instructors and divemasters who are seeking employment in the industry.

Lifestyle:
Working as a diving instructor in Egypt can be rewarding for those who are passionate about diving and willing to adapt to the culture and environment. However, the language barrier and cultural differences may require some adjustment and effort from your side before you feel comfortable and integrated into local communities.

Egypt experienced some political unrest and instability a few years ago, including protests, demonstrations, and occasional violent incidents. However, the situation has improved significantly in recent years.

Cost of living:
One advantage of working as a diving instructor in Egypt is that the cost of living in Egypt is relatively low compared to many other countries. The exact cost of living can vary depending on the location. In high-end resort locations like El Gouna, the cost of living may be higher compared to other locations in Egypt, but in general, it is possible to live quite comfortably on a modest budget.

Additionally, many dive centers in Egypt offer accommodation for their staff, which can further reduce living costs.

Dive Instructor Salary:
The average salary for diving instructors in Egypt seems quite low, even compared to Asian countries. This may be because many diving instructors in Egypt are employed on a seasonal basis, with higher salaries during the peak tourist season and lower salaries during the off-season.
The diving industry in Egypt is highly competitive, with a large number of dive centers and a relatively small number of tourists. This means that dive centers may need to keep their prices low to remain competitive, which in turn affects the salaries they can offer their instructors.

The cost of becoming a diving instructor in Egypt may be lower than in other countries. This makes it easier for local divers to become instructors, leading to more competition and potentially lower salaries.

Like in any country, the income for dive instructors working in Egypt can vary depending on location, experience, type of dive center, and qualifications. Busier and more popular diving destinations such as Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, and Dahab tend to offer more employment opportunities and higher salaries due to higher demand.

dominican-republic

Dominican Republic

Diving:
Diving in the Dominican Republic can be enjoyable and rewarding, but it offers a different type of diving experience compared to, for instance, Indonesia and Thailand.

The most popular dive spots in the Dominican Republic include Punta Cana, Bayahibe, and Sosua. These locations offer a variety of dives, including reefs, walls, and wrecks.

The marine life in the Dominican Republic is diverse, and you can expect to see a variety of tropical fish, invertebrates, rays, sharks, turtles, and even humpback whales in certain areas during certain times of the year.
In comparison to Indonesia and Thailand, which are known for their stunning coral reefs, and abundant marine life, the Dominican Republic has a lower diversity of coral and fish species.

The Dominican Republic can have stronger currents and cooler waters compared to Indonesia and Thailand.

Dive instructor job opportunities:
The diving industry in the Dominican Republic is relatively small compared to other popular diving destinations, but it has been growing steadily in recent years. There are many dive centers throughout the country, particularly in popular tourist destinations like Punta Cana, Bayahibe, and Puerto Plata.

As a result, there are plenty of opportunities for dive instructors to find work in the Dominican Republic, particularly during the high season (December to April). However, the competition for jobs can be significant, particularly for positions at the more established and reputable dive centers. It is advisable to have a strong diving resume, including relevant Specialty Instructor certifications and teaching experience, and languages spoken, to increase your chances of finding employment.

Lifestyle:
The Dominican Republic has a tropical climate with warm temperatures year-round, which can be a major draw for those who enjoy outdoor activities and a relaxed lifestyle. The country has a rich culture, with influences from the Taíno people, Spanish colonialism, and African traditions.

In tourist areas, such as Punta Cana and Puerto Plata, there are many options for entertainment and nightlife, while in the more rural areas, the lifestyle can be more laid back.

Like any country, some challenges and issues can impact daily life in the Dominican Republic, such as poverty, crime, and political instability. However, many dive instructors who choose to live and work in the Dominican Republic find it to be a welcoming and enjoyable place with a unique blend of cultures.

Cost of living:
Generally, the cost of living in the Dominican Republic is significantly lower compared to Europe but slightly higher than in Asian countries.

However, especially in tourist areas such as Punta Cana, the cost of living can quickly become higher if you are looking to live a more comfortable lifestyle and indulge in nightly entertainment.

Dive Instructor Salary:
The average monthly salary for a diving instructor in the Dominican Republic seems quite low compared to the living costs.
Dive instructors’ salaries can be supplemented with tips, but this can vary greatly depending on the dive center’s location and clientele.

mexico

Mexico

Diving:
Mexico offers a diverse range of dive sites, from the warm, clear waters of the Caribbean to the cooler, nutrient-rich waters of the Pacific. Some of the most popular dive sites in Mexico include Cozumel, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cabo San Lucas, and Puerto Vallarta.

Compared to the Dominican Republic, diving in Mexico can be more diverse in terms of marine life and dive sites. The Caribbean side of Mexico offers similar reef diving to the Dominican Republic but with the added bonus of cenote diving in the Yucatan Peninsula. The Pacific side of Mexico, particularly around Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, offers the opportunity to see larger pelagic species such as whale sharks, giant manta rays, and humpback whales.

Compared to Asian countries such as Indonesia and Thailand, diving in Mexico may not be as well-known, but still offers a range of unique and diverse experiences. While the coral reefs in Mexico are not as extensive or colorful as those in Southeast Asia, there are still many unique dive sites and marine species to discover.

Dive instructor job opportunities:
Mexico has a growing diving industry, especially in areas such as Cozumel, Cancun, and Cabo San Lucas, where there are a variety of dive sites and marine life. While the diving industry in Mexico may not be as established as in some Asian countries, there are still many job opportunities for dive instructors, especially in popular tourist destinations.

Mexico’s proximity to the United States also makes it a popular destination for American tourists. Although many people in Mexico speak English, it can be very useful to speak Spanish to communicate effectively with local dive center staff and increase your jobchances.

Generally speaking, job opportunities for dive instructors in Mexico are competitive but not as competitive as in countries like Egypt and the Maldives.

Lifestyle:
The lifestyle of diving instructors in Mexico can be enjoyable and fulfilling.
Mexico has a rich culture and diverse geography, offering many opportunities to explore and experience different aspects of the country and interact with a diverse group of people. The food is also renowned for its variety and flavors.

In terms of the diving lifestyle, Mexico has a range of dive sites that offer unique experiences, such as the cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula. Diving instructors can work in a variety of settings, including resort-based dive operations and liveaboards.

Living in Mexico can also present some challenges, depending on where you are located. Certain areas of Mexico can be dangerous due to drug trafficking and gang-related violence. However, many popular tourist destinations, such as Cancun and Cozumel, are generally safe.

Cost of living:
The cost of living in Mexico is in general lower than in most European countries but higher than in many Asian countries.

It’s important to note that the cost of living can vary widely depending on individual lifestyle choices and location. For example, popular tourist destinations like Cancun and Playa del Carmen may have higher living costs due to the higher demand for accommodation and entertainment options.

Dive Instructor Salary:
The average monthly salary for a diving instructor in Mexico can vary depending on the location and the dive center. Some dive centers may also offer additional benefits such as free or discounted accommodation, meals, and equipment rental.

Like in the Dominican Republic, the dive instructor salary in Mexico seems a bit low compared to the living costs. Also, dive instructors in Mexico seem to depend heavily on tips to complement their salary.

Honduras

Diving:
Honduras is another popular diving destination in Central America, known for its affordable prices and diverse marine life. The Bay Islands, including Roatan and Utila, are the most popular diving spots in Honduras.

Diving in Honduras is often compared to diving in the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean destinations, with clear waters, coral reefs, and a variety of marine life. However, Honduras is also known for its excellent opportunities to see whale sharks, which are not as commonly found in other Caribbean destinations.

Dive instructor job opportunities:
Honduras has a growing diving industry. However, because the country is relatively small, the diving industry in Honduras is also relatively small compared to other countries in Central America and Asia. This could mean that there may be fewer job opportunities for diving instructors in Honduras compared to other (larger) countries.

The majority of dive centers in Honduras are located in the Bay Islands, which include Roatan, Utila, and Guanaja.
These islands are popular places to complete the PADI instructor course. As a result, there are many (new) instructors looking for a job and the competition can be significant.

Lifestyle:
Honduras offers the opportunity to live in a laid-back and natural environment, with access to beautiful beaches and tropical landscapes.

Some areas of Honduras, such as the island of Utila, are known for their backpacker scene and tend to attract younger travelers.
Other areas such as Roatan and Tela are popular with a more diverse range of tourists including families, couples, and older travelers.

Cost of living:
Honduras is considered to be an affordable country to live in but like in other countries, the cost of living in Honduras varies depending on the location and lifestyle. The Bay Islands (Roatán, Utila, and Guanaja) are generally more expensive than other areas in the country. In particular, accommodation may be much more expensive in these locations.

Dive Instructor Salary:
In comparison to other countries, the average salary for diving instructors in Honduras may be considered relatively low. Honduras is a relatively small and competitive market for diving. Many dive centers are competing for a limited number of tourists. This drives down the course prices and limits the earning per course for diving instructors.

However, the salary for diving instructors in Honduras can vary widely in different dive centers. Roatan and Utila are popular dive destinations and busy dive centers in these locations may offer higher salaries compared to other dive centers.

Some dive centers may offer additional benefits to their staff, such as accommodation, meals, and even health insurance so, it is important to research and compare the benefits offered by different dive centers.