One of the most common questions I get asked is “what are my chances of working in the dive industry with a Divemaster certification compared to an scuba instructor certification?” Now whilst there is the blaringly obvious differences here between a divemaster and an instructor, I thought I would take the time to go through some points here that although, yes, it is much more beneficial to become a dive instructor, there are still opportunities for you out there as a Divemaster and the ways you can enhance that.
Differences between the two levels
So first up with the PADI Divemaster certification. As a divemaster you are primarily a “dive guide”. You can take certified divers underwater and show them the amazingness of the underwater world. A primary focus is to talk about safety, local protocols and local wildlife. Your responsibility with certified divers is with giving them a general plan and guiding them through the local reef (or lake depending on where you are). You are not responsible for their equipment, air consumption buoyancy or skills in the water, because, as certified divers they are responsible for themselves. However a good dive guide always gives a full briefing covering all aspects of the dive and checks up on their divers to make sure everything is good.
In addition to that a PADI Divemaster can lead discover scuba diving participants on a ratio or 2 to 1 after their first dive, you can assist during any PADI courses and you can, if you choose to and after additional training, teach both digital underwater photography and emergency oxygen provider. If there is a large demand for discover scuba diving experiences you can also teach those after completing a discover scuba diving internship and only in the pool. Any participant that wants to progress to the ocean, has to be evaluated by an instructor. That is pretty much it for a divemaster in water.
As an PADI Scuba instructor you can not only complete all of the things outlined above, you can also teach all core courses from discover scuba diving through to divemaster. If you choose to, you can also teach any specialty programs that you would like to.
So here, we have a definitive advantage to being an instructor as you can do all of the same things that a divemaster can and then some.
But out of the water?
This where the playing field is leveled and if you are looking at working in the dive industry, it is so multi-faceted, you can have a long list of additional skills which can put you clearly above your competition even without an instructor certification. The physical act of scuba diving is only a small part of the industry and day to day operations in a dive resort go way beyond that.
First up, general computer skills. From checking in clients, answering emails, and keeping track of inventory. This is a job in itself and if you have any ability with the computer (which I am assuming the majority of people do today) then make sure you mention it on your resume. More advanced skills in this area would be things like graphic design and maybe even web design. Every dive shop and brand needs a website presence right? Maybe that is something that your future employer is looking for. Add to this marketing. In general the majority of marketing today is done online and social media is a big part of it. You can very easily teach yourself a lot of key things just from perusing the internet. You will soon understand that it is not just about posting on Facebook ; ) Other front of house skills include sales techniques and customer relations. These are key to a successful business.
Now back of house, what skills can you acquire that will set you above the rest? The most commonly sought after skills are equipment maintenance and compressor operations. Add to that maybe a visual inspector certification or the ability to blend gas and you are on to a winner. All of these skills can be possessed by both divemasters and instructors and many times, I have seen shop managers that hold divemaster certification only but due to their overall abilities across the board, fit perfectly into that role.
Some dive centers offer Resort operations training which can encompass these types of qualifications and be extremely beneficial to you.
Also, many of the people who work with scuba brand manufacturers and companies, are working in the industry but not teaching. Again, they hold a wide range of the skills listed above which makes them perfect for their role.
So, overall, my suggestion is this. It is not just about the diving aspect of it so have a good think about what you want to do. Whilst everyone dreams of big pay checks and diving crystalline clear water they do not always go hand in hand. As a PADI Divemaster, if you possess some of the other necessary and extremely useful skills you could still find employment in the dive industry but don’t be afraid to think outside of the diving box. If you are looking for employment, remember to present yourself with a “this is what I can do for your company” type attitude. How will they benefit from hiring you, what niche (or niches) can you fill? It’s not just about teaching.
I hope you found this useful and if you ever have any questions just let me know! Happy bubbling!!