I am a dive professional, has a nice ring to it doesn't it? Teaching scuba is an ambition for many divers, some follow the path while others turn to a “formal” job as the “reality” of life sets in.
Some will extend their time while others will leave the dream behind them and work elsewhere. The dive industry is based on passion more than anything else. If you have and can keep that passion alive, you might find the diving industry is right for you.
To Become a Scuba Professional is a Dream You Can Make Come True
The dive master and instructor, these are the jobs most people think of when scuba jobs are mentioned. You get to dive every day and the possibility of far off travel is always an option.
Your instructor certification card can open doors for you on the opposite side of the world, and it will get you phone numbers from boys and girl easier than ever before. One reality check first! notice the title is scuba professional?
While you will enjoy the work, it must be done in a professional manner and to standards. As you know as a diver, scuba diving comes with some risk. It is the role of the dive professional to ensure that your students understand those risk as you teach them.
You can be held legally liable in case of an injury or death if it is found that your teaching did not meet the standards set by the agency you are affiliated with. Even divemasters have been held liable for injuries in some cases when divers are injured under their care.
The path to becoming a dive professional is well mapped out.
Each of the major certification agencies has their procedures and courses. As a scuba diver, the differences between certification agencies does not matter much. How you apply what you learn and taking the extra effort for self-improvement will overcome any difference there might be between programs.
When you start considering the professional side of scuba diving, other factors should be considered. Each of the agencies has their methodology. This does not only include what material are presented and in what order, but also the means of delivery.
To become an instructor you need to be able to teach.
Being an instructor is no job for someone who does not have patience. A school teacher will learn different methods of presentations that are geared towards a subject matter and the age group to be taught. You need to be more than a Subject Matter Expert (SME)
A school district will have its preferred methods of teaching that the teacher must follow. The different certification agencies have their preferred methods of teaching that are presented in their instructor training programs.
When you start considering a position as a dive master, try to talk to a few instructors from different organizations to get a feel for the teaching methods. Ideally, talk to a Course Director with PADI or an Instructor Trainer with SSI. Try to get a feel for how they teach. Is it something you are comfortable with?
The major portion of your dive master and instructor training is about the international standards that must be adhered too.
The level of training between the agencies differs little as they train to the same ISO standards. The methods are just different. Another important factor to many is the independence of the instructor.
In PADI, instructors are independent and interact directly with the regional organization. A PADI certified instructor can operate independently from a dive center or a resort.
SSI takes a different approach. While the instructors are certified by the main organization, they can only train using an SSI school. The path to becoming an instructor is about the same between agencies, just some name differences mostly and in some cases a division of task.
As PADI is the largest agency, we will use their course names
The path from open water diver to open water instructor is a simple progression. The rescue diver course is the prerequisite to enter the Dive master training program, the first professional level.
Although many dive professionals feel this is the most intense course, you do not need to be an advanced open water diver to take the rescue diver course. Adventure divers who completed the navigation dive can enroll in the rescue diver course. There is also no minimum number of dives. You do need to be certified in first aid, though.
Once you have completed the rescue course and have 40 dives logged you can enroll in the Dive master program. To enter the course, you must be a rescue diver with over 40 dives, current certification in CPR, have a medical exam clearing you as fit for diving, and will be required to take an in-water skills test.
Also read: Why Should I Get Certified as a Divemaster?
Much of the course is about the refinement of your skills until they are at the demonstration quality. There are 24 skills that you need to bring to this level. This is the stepping stone to the assessment of the duties you will perform as a dive master.
You will have to map a dive site, give dive briefings and other related tasks. You will also have sessions to train you in programs you can conduct as a dive master and as your role in supporting an instructor in certain classes.
Planning a scuba trip? Then you should download the ultimate scuba dive checklist just like 5000+ other divers already so you will not forget to bring anything.
The next step if you choose to continue is the Instructor Development Course (IDC).
The IDC is made up of two parts – the Assistant Instructor (AI) course and the Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI) program. A Dive master who has been a certified diver for at least six months and has at least 60 dives is eligible for the instructor programs.
Most Dive masters take the two sections together, requiring only one final exam. There is a theory portion done before the formal training. The IDC itself is a week long activity. Completing an IDC program allows you to take the Instructor exam. The Instructor exam is done separately from the training by certified examiners.
Are you ready to become a scuba professional?
Keep in mind that many instructors did not immediately consider going pro. They started as open water divers and progress through the different courses gaining skill and becoming rescue divers, then advancing to Dive master.
Many resorts have internship programs that will take you from your current level, even non-divers, to an open water instructor and beyond.
Under these programs, a non-diver can become an instructor in seven months and are known in the industry as "zero to hero" programs. In most cases, theses programs are combined with hands-on experience in the resort. In other words, you work.
You will likely experience all the additional jobs, such as working the boat, greeting guest, working the retail shop and other tasks as needed. The price of these programs vary greatly, some are even free.
Other Dive Related Jobs
If you love scuba diving, but do not think the teaching side is for you, there are other options.
Dive resorts need more than just instructors to stay in business. A knowledgeable scuba diver with a background in hospitality is an asset that many a small resort needs. You can say the same thing about a dive shop.
A Dive master or instructor is great at selling gear, not so keeping the inventory or books. Marketing in the diving industry at the manufacturers level is not much different than any other product. However, at the instructor or resort level, it has its unique requirements. Choose your path, there are many opportunities within the dive industry.
What are your thoughts about becoming a dive profesional? Let us know in the comments below
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Article written by Rutger Thole who is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs bookyourdive.com and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.