High salary | hard dive jobs | Australia | salary & living costs 1/3

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High salary | hard dive jobs | Australia | salary & living costs 1/3

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High salary with hard dive jobs | Australia part 1/3

Does it feel sometimes after a diving season your bank account is lower than before the season?

I was pretty much broke after a diving season in 2015. I worked two seasons as divemaster spending more money than scuba diving brought in. A month ago I had just paid my IDC. That took the last savings of my account.

I was just able to pay my flight ticket back home. There, I got a summer job in a production company. It was frustrating. I had a crappy apartment with shitty room mates. The summer job was demoralizing and repetitive. I had to skip all events and parties over the summer because I could not afford anything. Not anymore I thought.

I checked out areas in the world where the pay as dive instructor is high enough to save money.

With three short articles, I share with you how to make your bank account a bit more happy by a high salary with hard dive jobs in Australia. This is even possible for brand new instructors with the right attitude and a professional appearance.

High salary with hard dive jobs - high palms

Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash


I worked in Cairns. That is in the far northeast of this massive country. Over there the pay ranges between 160 AUD per day up to 240 AUD per day in 2015 for a dive instructor. In a month I made between 3300 and 3900 AUD.

Often, Australian wages get paid weekly or fortnightly. This means, shortly after you start working you have money coming in.

A few things you need to work in Australia:

  • Bank account
  • Tax file number aka TFN
  • Tax declaration at the end of the year
  • Superannuation account

Australian bank account

Easy to set up when you have a working visa. I used the bank called NAB aka National Australian Bank. They had a free of charge bank account including a visa debit card in 2015. You need to check for changes.

NAB - National Australia Bank-High salary with hard dive jobs

NAB – National Australia Bank


Australian Tax File number aka TFN

You get it online and free of charge. As of 2016 and 2017, the Australian taxation office is in a changing process of the law for foreigners working with a visa subclass 417. Check government websites for up-to-date info.

Tax return

Make sure you lodge a tax return declaration after your working period in Australia. I paid a tax service office 100 AUD and they did it for me. Saved me lots of hassle and they gave me tips on which expenses I can declare. Easy, fast and effective. It would have taken me days to read up all that stuff. I got back around 4.000 AUD.


Your employer has to pay superannuation on your behalf in certain cases. When you start working you can choose your super from a list of suppliers. I got the necessary documents from my employer. You can claim it back after your stay in Australia if you meet the requirements. Changes apply since 2017. My super was not that high.

I did not claim it back yet because the super-office told me that once I claim it back I can never claim it back a second time in life. Since I consider to move to Australia one day I thought it is a good idea to not make use of this single shot I have. I was told I can always claim it back later if the law does not change.

piggy bank-High salary with hard dive jobs

piggy bank – Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

Living costs

The living costs are higher than in lots of other countries.


However, I lived in a shared house which made it noticeably cheaper. You willHigh salary with hard dive jobs. In the Cairns area, a week costs approximately between 130 AUD and 180 AUD per week. It depends on the living standard you want. There are even shared houses available for 100 AUD per week.

I met people who lived in hostels for the first few weeks after arriving in Cairns. The nights they were on the boats they put their belongings in a storage room and did not have to pay.

Once they found a job they got a shared apartment close to work. They bought a bicycle and saved all the money for the fuel.

Remember, in Australia, it is mandatory by law to wear a helmet. The fines are extremely high and with Australian police officers, you will try to negotiate only once.

bicycle driver with helmet-High salary with hard dive jobs

Photo by Jack Alexander on Unsplash


There are many free activities available in greater Cairns. At public places you often find barbecues. They can be used by everyone. There are quite some

  • waterfalls
  • lakes
  • tropical forests
  • public workout stations
  • running trails
  • a mountain to climb
  • sightseeings

You can have many free fun days.

Since around 2015 there is also a climbing club in Cairns. It is very affordable and for all levels of experience.

Cairns climbing club-High salary with hard dive jobs

Photo by Cairns Climbing Club


Food is quite expensive. Therefore, I was shopping at grocery stores and cooking at home. This also makes it quite cheaper. I know if you live in Asia and you are used to not cook at all this could be a bit of a culture shock. It started being fun and saved me quite some cash.


Alcohol is very expensive. But hey, your expenses depend on your lifestyle. That is the same everywhere in the world. I managed to cut the alcohol back and it saved me lots of money.

High salary with hard dive jobs - expensive life

Photo by Linda Xu on Unsplash


The high salary with hard dive jobs in Australia is enough to make good savings every month. The high living costs can be bypassed with a decent, yet enjoyable lifestyle.

In the second part of these three articles, you will learn the visa requirements and what skills you can learn while you are working in Australia.

In the third and last part, you will be able to read tips on how to find work and find a list of dive centres in Cairns. Also, I will let you know how much savings are possible to make with six months of work.

I really hope this article helps you to find dive jobs with great dive shops.

Write your expertise, experience, and questions in the comments.

I read them ALL !


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Andreas is a dive instructor and writer. In the scuba industry, he has been working as marketing manager, cruise director, instructor, retail seller and dive guide. Recent years he worked in Indonesia, Australia and Thailand. Now he enjoys listening to the questions and struggles of dive professionals to share his expertise.

All stories by: Andreas
  • Dylan

    Hello Andreas,

    I’m a French PADI instrutor, 27 years old and I’m planning to move soon in Australia and I really would like to work as a divers there.
    It look like you have experience in the country and may be you can provide some advise about the way I have to search job there.. Is it acceptable to send an e-mail or it is better to call or to go directly on the dive shop ?

    Where it is the best place to go (with cains of course) ? Sydney can be a possibility ? Other city ?

    Is there some special things to know about the CV ?

    Thank you very much for reading, have a really good day 🙂

    Best regards.

    • Andreas

      thanks for your comment Dylan.

      In Australia it is best to walk into dive shops and tell them you are available.

      If you have good experience to show you might also get a job via distance. Chances are better being present though

      Sydney is colder 🙂 if that is ok with you.

      Whitsunday islands can be possible and check the season for Ningaloo reef in the West.

      I also replied via personal email Dylan.
      I hope that helps 🙂

      Best of luck buddy ?

    • Dustin

      I really appreciate you writing this out. I am a 31 year old American DM about to hit Aus in September (Brisbane/Gold Coast area) and get my PADI instructorship going. This really helps me in what I need in order to be successful out there!

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