How To Become a Dive instructor ?
For all of the communication that I receive from people around the world, every so often, I receive one that I feel reflects how many people feel. Maybe this person has just watched a program on national geographic, maybe theY went on vacation to the Caribbean, maybe it’s been a life long dream. Whatever the reason, this thought process begins to happen and the questions arises, I want to change my life so “how do I become a dive instructor?”. Now bear in mind this could be from someone who has never even been scuba diving, they just see something so incredibly wonderful and feel inspired to become a dive instructor. But where to start. I though I would take the time here to explain the ins and outs of climbing the ladder to the dreamy heights or awesomeness and all that is becoming a dive instructor. Now, it won’t all be swimming surrounded by schools of fish and kissing sea turtles, it is a hard job, but so rewarding, and if you have the right mentality, you can make a career of it for sure.
So, I think the best place to start is at the beginning. There are a number of certifications that you need to work through before your can even begin to look at your diving instructor certification. First up, is your open water certification. This is the entry level certification that teaches you the very basics of scuba diving. The course takes around 4 days to complete if you are doing full days or maybe a couple of weekends depending on your schedule. Once you have finished this program, you will be able to dive independent of a dive professional, just with another dive buddy. Something to think about, you are taught to be independent with your buddy, but, with the knowledge that there is still plenty to learn and you should look into continuing your training. To continue, your next step is the Advanced open water which is a series of 5 dives that gives you the chance to focus on the skills that you are interested in. Obligatory dives, in this program are the deep diving and underwater navigation portion, building on your previous knowledge from you open water. The other three dives are optional, where you can pick areas of interest to you. This could be photography, fish identification, search and recovery or even night diving.
At this point you are in a good position I feel, to go out and get some “fun dives” under your belt, as in no skills, diving with a buddy and just playing in the water, enjoying the whole scuba experience.
Your next step is your rescue diver course, which is said by many to be one of the hardest courses but most rewarding. First up your learn and focus on your CPR and first aid training and then onto the rescue. It is during this program that you learn to look after yourself and your buddy with various rescue techniques. These can be from self-rescue with cramp removal and air sharing to equipment related problems, panicked divers and unconscious divers. It’s a first step towards your future career as a professional scuba diver and is certainly a big step and confidence booster in your overall diving ability.
With the rescue diver under your belt you can look towards your first professional dive rating which is the Divemaster certification. To start this program, certainly with the PADI program at least you need to have at least 40 dives. This is a minimum requirement only and clearly the more comfortable you are in the water, I feel the easier your transition will be into professional scuba training. The only person that can make this decision though is you, and whilst some people are ready to begin at 40 dives, others will need closer to 100 before they are at a level where they will get the most from their training. It really is an individual thing.
So, with your divemaster training you are effectively training to be a dive guide or an instructional assistant. You will learn to help certified divers, and assist on training courses. There are a couple of ways to take this Divemaster training. It could be in the form of an internship or as a practical exercise. Personally, we like to train the internship route which really is an immersion in the scuba diving realm. This includes resort training, equipment maintenence, working with clients, taking reservations and a variety of skills that are important in getting an all round skill set for the diving industry. By the time you finish your divemaster training you will have a minimum of 60 dives. If this is all you have then my recommendation is to get some experience as a divemaster before moving forward with your instructor program which is the next step. If you would like more information and details about actual requirements for the divemaster course then you can check them out here.
So, how to become a diving instructor, for your instructor program which is the next step you will need to have at least 100 dives and have been a certified scuba diver for at least 6 months. I would hope at this point that you would have some good experience underwater. The instructor development course, which is the PADI version of scuba dive instructor training is a 7 to 10 day course that revolves around “how to teach”. Whilst the divemaster course focuses on your skill as a dive professional, the instructor development program focuses on how to teach. Your scuba skills, navigation techniques, buoyancy control should be covered in your Divemaster program.
The scuba diving instructor course is on how to break down a course, teach it, as well as all of your rules and regulations that come with the responsibilities of being a scuba diving instructor. Once the course is complete you must sit a 2 days exam which is adjudicated independently by PADI headquarters. They will send and examiner down and for assess everything that you had learnt during your instructor development course.
On passing your exam, congratulations! You are now officially an open water scuba instructor!
Whilst for many this is the goal and the dream, to make yourself a really employable member of the dive industry you need to look at branching out and including as many skills as possible. This can be from web skills, to social media skills, as well as continuing your dive education with specialities. With so much out there the world is your oyster so go and get it and good luck!!