An active topic of discussion in many forums and groups around the internet is not just where someone should take their scuba instructor course but whether they actually should. The dream of many is working and traveling as a scuba instructor, exploring exotic locations, Diving different oceans and getting paid to do it.
You jump on an online forum and suddenly it comes crashing down. Everyone is moaning about money and about internships. It won’t happen. The market is saturated. I honestly beg to differ. Every year we are looking for instructors, but like many places we are picky. You are taking someone underwater and are going to be responsible for them. We want someone who works hard and doesn’t have to be handheld and we will pay for that. It is possible to make a living and travel. You certainly won’t become a millionaire I can tell you that. But travel yes, explore yes. So if you are considering this, here are my thoughts on 5 things you should think about before taking the plunge onto your scuba instructor course.
It is a serious Investment
Yes the scuba instructor program costs money. With fees and all in you are looking at around $3500. Unless you are going to use it I wouldn’t necessarily make the investment. If you want to just dive for yourself, maybe stick with Master scuba diver. If you are working in the industry then yes, you can earn it back no problem.
Personally it took me about 3 months to get my money back once I was working. There are lots of internship type programs out there that stress you get it for free. Please do not be fooled. Look at the fine print. To get a program that is worth about $3500 (PADI program) you should not need to work 6 months plus. Think about it. That is just under $20 a day, so around $2 an hour is working an 8 hour day. We know full well that a lot of places will run over 8 hours. I think you are worth more than that. Some places offer more of a discount so make sure you really crunch numbers and check it out. It is worth it to just invest and then you are not held anywhere waiting for a cert.
There are a lot of qualified individuals – make your self stand out
One of the most sought after things in the scuba diving world not including your basic scuba skills and techniques is languages. You can speak more than one language, your chances or getting hired will increase. Now, don’t immediately start thinking, but I can’t speak Russian or Chinese. Let’s think outside the box here. What other skills can you bring to the table. The “marketing language” maybe or being able to create content? When you approach your potential dive shops employer, think not so much as asking for a job, more as “what can you give to them to make them want to hire you”. With any number of skills you can stand out from a crowd and make a dive center want to look at you for work.
Pay rates vary around the world
Now, before I get into this, I cannot stress enough to value yourself. Do not go out there working for free, undervaluing what you do and what many others in the industry do. At the same time when yo are looking at pay rate whether it is commission or salary based, you need to look at the cost of living and the minimum wage for that country and area. You will not manage to get a US wage in somewhere like Central America or Thailand. Why? Because the cost of living is cheaper. Where ever you are you should be able to pay to live and put some away for that rainy day and when you are ready to move on. Not your retirement savings for sure but at least something.
You are turning a passion – into a job
Many people start scuba diving as a passion. They love being underwater. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who thought hmmmm, I think I will go into the scuba industry to make money. On that note, remember the down falls of making your passion into your job. You do not want to get burnt out and lose your love for scuba diving. It is important to continue to dive for yourself and just get our there without any students or clients. Blow some bubbles and remember why you started this. If you continue to be passionate and want to explore the ocean this will pass onto your students which is how it should be!
Many places are seasonal
A lot of scuba places in the world are seasonal. This means they have a high season and a low season. This will flow around the tourist season and the weather in some places. You need to plan ahead if you are going to be traveling. For example, heading to central america in August time is not likely to get you a job. Heading over there or enquiring at the end of October probably would as the busy season is November through to May and then again July and August. Europe is always looking from May onwards for the summer holiday season.
Plan your movements ahead of time and think about where you would like to go. In addition, I cannot stress how much easier it is if you have connections. Once you start working and meet different instructors who have travelled. See where they have been and if they have any advise or dive shop connections to get you somewhere. Nothing beats a personal recommendation.
Don’t be put off
So, please don’t take this the wrong way and think I am trying to put you off. By no means. But I want you to make sure you have had a good long think and really looked at the picture. Don’t be put off by the negative Nancys out there, you can do anything you want if you work hard and put your mind to it but be realistic. Go out there and live your scuba dream! Take up the scuba instructor challenge!