What is a typical Divemaster Salary in Thailand?

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Divemasters in Thailand diving on Koh Tao. What is a typical divemaster salary?
Divemasters diving in Koh Tao, Thailand. Photo courtesy of Aey Srirattana.

Thinking of heading to tropical Thailand to work and live as a divemaster? If you’re not, then you should be! Thailand is the land of sun, smiles, and some great scuba diving! So can you become a divemaster in Thailand and live off the diving? Let’s have a look at a typical divemaster salary in Thailand.

Divemaster Salary Thailand

After seven years as a diving professional in Thailand, I have seen varying divemaster pay checks. They can range from a measly 5,000 THB to a respectable 60,000 THB. So why the large difference?

This is due to the fact that most diving salaries in Thailand, and in the general diving industry around the world, is based on commissions. Therefore, how many students or divers you take diving.

More Divers = More Dives = More Salary.

Less Divers = Less Dives = Less Salary.

But what impacts having more or less divers? Some factors will include:

High Season vs. Low Season

High season is the traditionally busy time for a holiday destination. It is also when accommodation prices generally go up due to popular demand. The high season is dependent on tourists during their holiday seasons.

Diving in Koh Tao, for example, has a high season in August, when the European school holidays begin. This is when backpackers who have just finished high school or university will go on a month-long South East Asian backpacking trip. Complete with elephant trousers and Chang singlets.

Another high season for Thailand is the Christmas and New Year break. Families will be taking their school-age children on a tropical resort holiday during this time. It is the perfect time for parents to lounge by the pool, and the kids to try scuba diving.

Read More: Diving in Koh Tao and the Best Seasons

When comparing high season vs. low season, you will see a big difference between the number of people on the beaches, in the restaurants, and on the dive boats. This greatly affects a divemaster’s salary.

Weather Conditions

The weather and diving conditions will affect a divemaster’s salary. Most people diving in Thailand are new divers who would like to tick scuba diving off their holiday bucket-list. They usually choose Thailand for a try-dive or to get their Open Water certification due to the possibility of diving in crystal-clear water, with calm surface conditions.

Most of the year we do have these conditions, but once in awhile, Thailand will have big monsoon rains, strong winds, and currents that greatly affect the diving conditions. This can be slightly off-putting to scuba divers, especially those who are new to diving. Diving in 2-meter waves with 1-meter visibility is not easy. In several years of working in Thailand, we do see cancellations on the morning of a dive if the weather is not amazing. This will affect your salary as a divemaster.

Luck of the Draw

One day four divers might walk into the dive center wanting to dive with you. Another day no-one might sign up for diving. At the end of the day it is a luck of the draw with how many divers you may get as a divemaster. This will affect how much you make that day, and your overall monthly salary.

Divemaster Salary

What is the Divemaster Commission?

We have mentioned commission-based salaries for a divemaster. So how much exactly do you make per commission? Dive centers will vary but an average commission will be 20% from the price the customer pays. Let’s say:

1,000 THB for a One-Tank Dive = 200 THB for the Divemaster

As you can see this is not a massive salary. However, as mentioned previously, if you have a great high season and take eight divers a day (four on the morning boat, and four in the afternoon, with a 2-dive trip) then you could potentially make 3,200 THB a day.

Being a Divemaster on a Liveaboard

Another option for being a divemaster in Thailand is working on a liveaboard, where you live, sleep, eat, and dive off a boat for several days in a row. This is a very popular type of holiday for recreational divers.

Being a divemaster on a liveaboard is a great way to make and save some money as you will not be spending on accommodation or food while you are living on the boat.

A typical starting salary will be around 30,000 THB/month, and you can also make an additional commission based on courses and other dive trips you sell to divers. This can be up to 20% in commission. Tipping the dive guide is very typical and expected on a liveaboard, so you can also make some great revenue on top of your salary.

Read More: My Review of The Junk Liveaboard in Thailand

Why Be A Divemaster in Thailand?

So if the salary is so unstable, and you might not make a lot of money as a divemaster in Thailand, then why would you be a divemaster in Thailand?

Lifestyle.

From my own experience and living in Thailand for 7 seasons, I can say that the lifestyle here is really nice. The weather is always warm, the sun is shining (therefore, our Vitamin-D levels are nice and high), you can get accommodation for cheap and spend next to nothing for a delicious Thai meal every day.

And of course, the diving is great, especially when whale shark season starts!

As a divemaster, you will be taking divers who are on their holidays. This means they are usually very friendly, love to be there, and enjoy diving. These people are great to hang around with and it makes your job very enjoyable.

They also really want to buy you a beer at the end of the day!

The essentials for a divemaster in Thailand
Being a divemaster is a fun job, but is it enough as a career?

How to Make More Money Scuba Diving?

If low-season wages are just not cutting it, and you are struggling to maintain a living in Thailand, then you can try to boost your divemaster salary.

Selling Equipment

Learning how to sell equipment can be a great way to supplement your divemaster salary. Most dive centers will offer a commission on the equipment that you sell. This can range from 5% to 25% of the retail price.

The easiest items to sell to your divers are a scuba diving mask, snorkel, and a computer. These are things that they can pack in their backpacks and travel with. They are also essential pieces of scuba diving equipment.

As a divemaster you should put in the time to properly fit your diver’s mask. Show them a range of masks, or even offer them to try on your mask. They will see a big difference between a budget rental mask compared to your fancy scuba diving mask.

Commission vs. Fixed Salary

As a valued divemaster, you can ask your management about having a fixed salary all-year-round, or just in low-season. This is a good way to ensure you have a minimum salary to cover your basic costs of accommodation and food when there are not many diving customers.

Up-Selling Divers

In low-season or bad weather conditions, there will always be a small group of dedicated divers who want to go diving no matter the conditions. These divers are the people you want to continue diving, which means you make more commission. Be the best divemaster; approachable, safe, and fun, and the divers will want to continue diving with you.

Be More Employable

If you hold specialty certifications, such as a Nitrox, Deep or you have a Wreck Specialty certification, then you can take the more specialized divers. This means you are more employable to a dive center as you can take different level divers. Low-season is a great time to further your own scuba diving education. While you cannot teach the specialties as a divemaster, you can take divers on their specialty dives once they are certified by an instructor.

Divemaster Course Koh Tao

Koh Tao has an unfair reputation as a ‘factory’ of scuba divers, due to the amount of diving certifications that are taken on this small island. However, because there are so many dive shops, this means that most dive shops want to keep their reputation and standards high, which actually means safer diving than most places around the world.

Because so many people come to Koh Tao for their beginner scuba diving courses, this also means there are a lot of opportunities to ‘assist’ on courses as part of your divemaster training. You will see a lot of good and bad divers. You will also see various diving problems on the surface and underwater, and learn how to solve these efficiently and effectively. This all makes you a better divemaster in the long run.

Taking a divemaster course on Koh Tao is a great experience. I did it, and it was easily one of the most fun experiences in my life.

Emma was terrified of the ocean but dove into her Open Water 7 years ago and hasn't looked back since! She worked as an underwater videographer for several years and is now a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. She currently runs a dive shop on the island of Koh Tao in Thailand and is the founder of Down To Scuba.

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