It’s here, the moment you are deciding to change your life completely and fulfill that dream of becoming a scuba instructor. It may be that you are just looking to add the skill so you can work at your local dive shop, where you have already built up a great relationship with the staff. Maybe its that you are looking to travel. Maybe you are looking to just change your career after so many working in another industry. What ever reason, there is no time like the present to start and whilst you may have butterflies in your stomach at the thought of studying and taking that big step, but the euphoric feeling you will have on completion will completely make it worth it.

So what do you look for when you are choosing a center to complete your PADI instructor training ? Obviously you want to train at the best facility as this is such a large step, but what is the best fit for you, may not necessarily be the best fit for someone else. It depends entirely on what you are looking for.

So one of the first things you need to do is look back at your divemaster training. Your main dive skills were learnt during your divemaster course and the purpose of the PADI instructor course is to teach you “how to teach”. Something to bear in mind when making your decision. It may be that you are thinking of completing your instructor training at the same dive center. If you have a good working relationship there, work well with the staff and had a great course it is definitely worth considering completing everything in the same place. It would certainly remove some of the stress involved with settling into a new school. However, if you are thinking of going somewhere different, maybe just to see somewhere new, or because your school cannot complete an IDC (or maybe you had a bad experience) there is a large number of fantastic PADI IDC centers to choose from. Where do you start?

Location. A biggie. Are you looking at a beach resort area, going to a tropical climate, somewhere with inland dive sites? There are a lot of tropical destination PADI IDC centers, from thailand, indonesia, to australia, florida, costa rica and beyond. So many to choose from, all with beaches, warm (or warmish) water and a list of pros and cons for each. How do we start narrowing that down?

Timetable can play a large role in picking your center and with that alone, you may find that your choices are narrowed. On average, a PADI instructor course can take from 5 days through to 10 days depending on whether you have completed the online portion beforehand. (we will cover the online section below). This could be consecutive days or spread over weekends or weekday evenings. This is purely course time, and does not count any additional IDC prep courses that may be included at the start of a course, or take into account the scuba instructor exam run by PADI. The exam takes 2 days and is scheduled by PADI. The majority of IDCs are run to coincide with an exam, allowing you as the student, to have everything fresh in your mind before sitting through an exam. The more time you can dedicate to your IDC the better as this will allow you to be as prepped as possible, so reducing your stress level during the course, and allowing you to have Fun!

So you have looked at timing, checked online calendars and narrowed it down(slightly!) where to next? What type of program are you looking for ? With so much media moving onto the internet now, it wasn’t long before the PADI instructor course moved there too.  This is a good way to start your preparation for your instructor course. The sections you will complete are;

  • Learning, Instruction and the PADI System
  • General Standards and Procedures
  • Risk Management
  • Marketing Diving
  • Start Diving
  • Teaching PADI Specialty Diver Courses
  • Business of Diving
  • Keep Diving
  • How to Teach the Recreational Dive Planner (RDP) – required for crossover candidates; optional for PADI Members

Some centers still work with all of these sections in class which can add an additional 3 or 4 days to a program. Others give you a choice. Personally, I have adopted the online course as it allows you as the student to spend more time in the water and less time in the classroom. As you complete this in your own time, if you have any additional problems completing it, or understanding it, we can work together but for the majority of students, it is easy enough to complete by yourself.

Following that, there are 9 more sections in class plus minimum 4 in the pool, and 2 in the ocean. When picking a center, something you may take into consideration is facilities. If you are thinking you want to really polish you pool skills, does the center have access to an onsite or nearby pool at all times. A great addition to any prep program or IDC program in general is an onsite pool. A big advantage to any program is your ability to practice as much as the possible and make the most of your time. If you are unable to run through skill circuits as much as you like this may affect your decision in choosing a center. What about access to open water too? During your PADI instructor program you complete at least 2 open water sessions. How much additional practice can you expect as well? Some centers will include any diving during your time on the course, others won’t. The fact that you can dive before the course starts, to get used to the conditions, or just blow some bubbles to relax can be a factor in helping you choose your center.

That is just for your course. What about additional extras? Price is a big factor when choosing an instructor course, and once its all said and done, you are looking at spending around $2500 – $3500. including the PADI fees. Yes, the PADI fees are your exam fees, and are the same though out the world. Fees at this time are $525 for the exam plus $130 for the PADI IDC and then $95 for your EFR instructor application. The EFR Instructor course being a prerequisite for the instructor course.  A lot of centers offer packages with everything included but what you really need to do is check the fine print. Whilst you may see a course offered for $999 once you peel back the layers you may easily find that this isn’t the case. You need to have an IDC crew pack (approx $600) plus your EFR instructor course. before you even begin. How many dives are included in that and is there any assistance in preparing for the course? And whilst some centers may offer “work exchange” how much “work” is actually involved? It is not unheard of (unfortunately) to hear of students working of their courses with interest!


Some great additional features with a PADI instructor course is a preparation course. This can include prep for the theory exams, so maybe studying physics, a pool session to polish your skills, and may also include the chance to assist on a course that is running. Working with a current instructor on a scuba program gives you a good advantage going into your program as you can see how a working instructor breaks skills down, controls them and teaches them.  When the course is over, will you get the opportunity to teach? Again, a great bonus if you can stretch your newly found instructor wings under the watchful eyes of current scuba instructors.

One other thing to think about is equipment. As a scuba professional I cannot stress the importance of having your own equipment. I mean really….imagine an electrician turing up at your house to fix something and asking to borrow your tools! Does that sound professional ? I think not! BUT, saying that, I also understand that as you are traveling, luggage allowance is a consideration. Whilst at Go Pro Costa Rica you must have the majority of your equipment, like mask, fins, computer, we allow for the fact that bringing a BCD and/or reg may be difficult and include it. Something else to consider.

So all in all. There is a lot to take into consideration.  With such an important decision you really want to make sure you do your research, and don’t just look for that “100% guarantee” because there are those centers out there that enjoy blowing their trumpet with nothing to back it up. Look for “real” reviews and email or phone with as many questions as you like. Its a big decision and you want to make sure that you are making the right one for you.

Good luck and enjoy the amazing opportunity that a scuba instructor life brings you!