As a professional diver, you're spending a good amount of time underwater, a place you love. Getting paid to do what you used to pay for. Most people are envious of your colourful office. You're always looking forward to new opportunities! You'll get to relocate every now and then. It's undeniable that for you, who are adventurous at heart, this career is a perfect window to see the world.
In most cases, the nature of the employment arrangement for a pro dive job will most likely be on a seasonal contract basis. It's always exciting to think about the new countries and underwater scenes you'll be exploring. However, before you apply or accept an offer to relocate, there are some questions you should ask yourself.
1) Can I work legally? Is there any immigration process I have to go through?
Moving to a new country and exploring new dive spots sound very exciting, but prior to apply for an advertised dive vacancy, it's better for you to check if you're allowed to work in that specific country. Immigration can be a headache and some countries' immigration process are so rigorous that the time & cost you'll be spending might outweigh the benefit you'll be receiving.
TO-DO: Conduct a research and inquire with the dive centres you're interested in. If you have the right qualifications, most of the time you can get sponsored. Some countries like Indonesia, which has some of the worlds most amazing dive sites, has costly immigration process, perhaps you should consider other destinations if your potential employer does not offer to sponsor your work permit.
2) Have I done my research on the new country, cultures, & languages
Most dive professionals are travellers, new cultures and languages often excite us. However being a temporary visitor vs settling down for an extended period of time are two very different things. It takes time to adjust and to become comfortable with a new place, its people, and their cultures.
TO-DO: Ask around! Your friends might be the most accessible resource you have. There's also online resources for expats looking for information. Talk to your potential employer to inquire about potential culture or language barriers you might encounter. Two rules I've always lived by in regards to relocating to new a country: a) respect the local culture and b) immerse yourself in it.
3) Is the salary offered adjusted to the cost of living?
Cost of living varies from country to country. When it comes to financial compensations, it's important to consider the costs in a new location and to negotiate a fair salary. You want to be able to live comfortably from your earnings. If the salary is not sufficient, you might have to consider other possibilities such as taking a side job (if it is an option under the country's labour laws).
TO-DO: Inquire with your employer about the average monthly expenses: accommodation, meals, entertainment, transport etc. Will you be receiving a monthly allowance for those expenses? Once you have the information, compare it with other sources such as 200bar, Google, forums, friends, & family.
Photo Credit: Yansu Suartana
4) Will I find a community that will help me grow as a professional diver?
Be a sponge! If you're serious about succeeding in your dive career, it's crucial to think about your professional and personal growth. There are dozens of specialties available for you to learn; from deep, cave, tech diving, to underwater photography, plus various other courses and skills you can learn such as dive centre management, boat operation, ocean conservation & research. Make sure every step you take opens new opportunities to step-up your game!
TO-DO: Make a list of what kind of dive professional you want to become and what skillset you need to achieve your goals. Set up a career plan with your future employer. Reach out to the local and expat communities to build a support network to help you succeed in your new venture.
Have you considered the good & the bad?
As dive professionals, you have unlimited options. However every opportunity can have its challenge. At the end of the day, a relocation requires preparation and resources, it's always good to weigh the pros & cons to ensure you are making the right career and life choice.