If you are looking at pursuing a career in scuba diving then for many people, a logical step is to become a scuba instructor. The instructor development course, or PADI IDC is the training program to progress from a Divemaster to an Instructor. Let’s get one thing straight first, it doesn’t teach you how to be a good diver. You need to be a good diver coming into it. It teaches you “how to teach”. So if you don’t know how to navigate, can’t hover very well, or demonstrate skills, then honestly, get that sorted before you start down the road to the PADI IDC. It should have been taught and polished during your Divemaster or Dive leader program. Once you hit the IDC, its’s reviewing that and practicing but the focus is teaching you “how to teach”.

So, after that little lecture, let’s get down to it. What does an PADI IDC actually involve? To help you prepare and navigate your way through it here is a breakdown. This is what will be coming your way when you enroll and take part in a PADI Instructor development program.

Online academics

First up is your academics. The PADI IDC integrates a reasonably sized online section before you begin. This enables your focus during the program to be on more practical workshops and putting the theory to practice. This online portion looks at the overall PADI system. It includes courses involved and then dive theory including Physics, physiology, dive tables, equipment and general skills and knowledge.

This is one of the first stress points for many people. Just work your way through it, highlight any points that you don’t understand and then work with your instructor on those. Your first set of exams will seem daunting but they’re a good starting point as you will be able to get an idea of what parts you are weak on. You can then focus on those, and when your second set of exams comes along you will be good to go.

Advice point here: always leave the exam you like the least to the end and you won’t get hung up on it and panic. If you miss it, you’ll get the chance to resit it so all good.

For the rest of the online section, please, please remember to use your reference books as much as possible. Everything is given to you online. If it says look something up then look it up! This will help you as you work your way through the program as you will already have a basic grasp on the system and materials.

academics during the PADI IDC

Classroom presentations

Once the PADI IDC actually begins there are some presentations that your Course director will work on with you. The majority of these are workshops. They include, how to present in the classroom, confined area and ocean. Risk management, scheduling and organizing open water programs, organizing continuing education programs and control of students. You will look at a variety of different programs that you can teach and look at the skills involved, how to break them down and how to make sure you are teaching them safely and properly. Exams will also be covered here including a standards exam using your instructor manual and your dive theory exams. All need to be passed with a 75% minimum.

confined water presentations during the PADI IDC

Confined water workshops

During your IDC there will be on average 5 confined water workshops. In general the first one is skill practice. Breaking down your demonstrations of each of your skills from the open water program amongst others and making sure that you can demonstrate clearly, slowly and exaggerated. Making it look easy. Ideally you want to be able to demonstrate each of your skills neutrally buoyant as well so that you can practice with your students in the future, ensuring that you are teaching good divers.

You will also have to present at least 4 different skills here as well. This involves, briefing, demonstrating, teaching and then debriefing. Some of your students here will present problems, that you will have to identify and correct before ensuring they have mastery. You will have as many tries as you need at this. Programs you will teach from include rescue and open water and you will need to pass a minimum of two presentations.

Knowledge development workshops

Before your future students set foot in the water they learn in the classroom. This may be a quick review after online learning or it may be a whole presentation. But how do you do that? You need to look at learning objectives, reasons to learn and more. You will cover these and then present them in the class during the IDC. Here you will practice using all of the materials that PADI has available. These include prescriptive lesson guides, digital manuals and more. You may not choose to use them all once you are actually teaching, but it is important to see what is available.

These classroom presentations are graded and you will need to pass a minimum of two to move towards your exam. The more interactive you are with the students the better. You want to engage them. You could be teaching from the open water course, Divemaster, rescue, advanced program, buoyancy or project aware. So make sure you are familiar with all of them.

open water sessions during the PADI IDC

Open water workshops

Once you are in the open water there are quite a few things you have to cover. The big emphasis here is control and safety of your students. Be the most conservative instructor you can be. You will be practicing to teach in open water and cover skills from any of the core level courses. You will be marked on ability to control your students, communication and environmental awareness. Also performance of your students and general management of the open water environment.

You will complete at least two presentations of which each is comprised of two skills. Again, briefing, problem solving and debriefing. In general there are no demonstrations here as the students have already done the skills once in confined water. In addition to the presentations, you will look at continuing education skills, for example search and recovery techniques, knots, lift bags and teaching navigation. You will also practice descent techniques and teaching the Controlled emergency swimming ascent (CESA).

Rescue practice and watermanship

One of the final pieces to cover is your Rescue and watermanship skills. You need to have role model rescue skills and be able to demonstrate them well. This includes rescuing panicked divers and unconscious divers from underwater and on the surface. I like to start practicing in confined water before moving to open water to ensure that everyone is comfortable with them. For the unconscious diver skills, you will need to be able to demonstrate both with a pocket mask and without.

For the watermanship skills you must perform a 400m swim and then a 10 minute float. The swim is not timed like the divemaster but you want to be able to show a reasonable level of fitness. Think about it, who is going to trust their scuba dive instructor to help them if they can’d reasonably swim a good distance in time?

So what next?

So once all of that is completed, you are tired, you have been working super hard, it’s now onto the PADI IE. Here you will have to do it all again. Not as many times mind you but show to an independent examiner that you can safely and professionally teach scuba diving. If you have a good course director, the exam is very straight forward as it is nothing new and you will be overly prepared. It seems and lot, but trust me, it’s worth it. When you pass the IE, being able to teach people how to blow bubbles underwater, and seeing the smile on their faces is the best reward.

Have fun everyone!

success at the PADI IE