High salary | hard dive jobs | Australia | visa & what you can learn-2/3

sunrise on the Great Barrier Reef

High salary | hard dive jobs | Australia | visa & what you can learn-2/3

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High salary with hard dive jobs | Australia part 2/3

In part one of these three articles, you learned about the salary and the living costs in Cairns, Queensland.

Here you can read about visa requirements and what instructor skills you can learn while you are working in dive jobs in Australia.


The good news first. You can get a visa independent from an employer. This is a big advantage compared to a lot of other countries. I am sure you know that.

Bad news second. The working holiday visa subclass 417 has some restrictions:

Working holiday visa subclass 417 - screenshot from a website of the Australian government

Working holiday visa subclass 417 – screenshot from a website of the Australian government

An excerpt from the website of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on the 2nd of August 2017.

To apply for this visa, you must hold a valid passport from a country involved in the Working Holiday Program with Australia. Eligible countries are:

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (including British National Overseas passport holders)
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom.

Good news again. You can extend your stay to a second year if you are eligible.

You need to know that you can work with one single employer maximum six months. This is usually not a big deal because Australia has diving all year round on the Great Barrier Reef. This means it is not too hard to find dive jobs if you have a kick-ass job application, speak the right languages and present yourself professionally.

If you speak some languages like the ones in the list here just above is even better because a large number of young tourists are coming from these countries.

The costs for the visa are 440 AUD as an internet application charge in July 2017. You can estimate the costs of your visa on the website of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

You want to make sure you read all the linked websites here thoroughly for updates.
Changes can always be made by the government of Australia.

visa - cliffs

Photo by Samantha Lynch on Unsplash

What you can learn

I learned many skills in just a few months. As a dive instructor, you work hard in Australia.

As a new instructor, you will be able to ask thousands of questions to instructors with more experience. If you start working as a couple you can even learn together at the same time and teach each others new skills.

However, for the teaching part, you might get thrown into the deep end. In my first open water course, I had seven students. I have to say the organization in the dive centre and on the boat is running extremely smooth. You have a well-working infrastructure around you which makes it very doable with that many students.

On land

It is likely that you will be asked to learn and later do yourself

  • Teach all courses up to divemaster including specialities
  • Teach up to eight students at a time
  • Fill tanks including Nitrox
  • Sell dive equipment especially masks, snorkels, and fins and more
  • Sell courses
  • Drive the guests and students in eleven seat buses

For the last bullet point, the company you work for will ask you to apply for a taxi driving license. This is available with a bit of paperwork but not complicated. They usually tell you what to do and to which office to go.

visa - sailing boat

Photo by Sensei Minimal on Unsplash

On the boats

You probably get taught and later asked to

  • Teach all courses up to divemaster including specialities – up to eight students
  • Fill tanks including Nitrox
  • Selling courses
  • Selling merchandise products
  • Take photos above water and underwater
  • Sell photos to guests
  • Do dive equipment repair including low-pressure inflator hoses, mouth pieces and more
  • Drive the tender/speedboat
  • Moor up an 80 tons boat at the reef – make sure you know your bowlines
  • Do safety look-out for divers and snorkellers
  • Clean boat propellers
  • Clean the saloon on board
  • Make beds on board
  • Clean toilets of the vessel
  • Wash up the dishes
  • Stay overnight at the reef on board
  • Do weekly emergency drills on board including lost diver, fire on board, abandon the ship, man over board and more -> they are quite fun!
lunch buffet in the saloon on board

lunch buffet in the saloon on board


New instructors

Don’t worry if you are a new instructor. In Australia, the seniors on board take a newbie under their wings. You will get taught how to moor up a large boat and all the other stuff. They will not put the safety of up to 400 people into your hands the first days and weeks.

Yes, you did read correctly. I worked on a 30 passenger liveaboard. Other companies have catamarans which carry up to 400 people to the reef, every day of the year. It is a different scale than I have ever seen anywhere else. You will learn a lot from their organization. It works like a Swiss watch.

sunrise on the Great Barrier Reef

sunrise on the Great Barrier Reef


The visa requirements limit the amount of people who can take this opportunity. If you are able to work there you have the great chance of learning important skills and getting a high salary.

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

Share 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
    • Andreas

      Hi Rich,
      thanks a lot for your question.
      I just wrote this in the other FB group. I am not sure if you can see it so here for you:

      If you are not eligible for the working holiday visa Australia requires a sponsor to give you a work permit. Usually, companies sponsor their staff who have a working holiday visa to be able to keep them as staff.

      There is another way to get started if you are over 31/wrong passport etc..

      Check out the students’ visa for Australia. To be able to get it you need to be signed up for an eligible study course inside Oz. Check which courses are able to give you the students visa.
      There are different organisations like TAFE, Unis, other learning institutions. Pick one that is not too expensive but eligible to get the students visa with.

      With a students visa you can work around 20h/week (not sure about the exact hours)

      Get a good workplace (hopefully a dive centre) that likes you and show the best side of yourself. After your students’ visa expires you might have the chance the company wants to keep you and sponsors you.
      I hope that helps you Rich.
      thanks again

  • Antonio

    Hello Andreas I am a diving instructor I speak and teach in English German Italian French and Spanish,can you advise me some dive centers or resort in the Great Barrier Reef where I can send my cv?

  • agree

    Having reɑd this I beliеved it was гeaⅼly informative.
    I aρpreciate yօu finding tһe time and effort to put this informative articⅼe together.

    I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and leaving
    comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

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