Is it hard to become a scuba instructor?

As part of our blog series on some of the most asked questions about the PADI IDC, we thought we would tackle this one. Is it actually hard to become a scuba instructor?

I think the first thing we need to do is change the question to

“Is it hard to become a GOOD scuba instructor?” in which case the answer is yes!

Here are my 5 reasons why.


Please note, in my book there is a HUGE difference between a scuba instructor and a GOOD scuba instructor. Attitude is the number one factor and you have to bring that to the table.

PADI IE success

1. The PADI IDC theory study

The actual PADI IDC is an intensive training program that takes 2 weeks. The course will last around 10 – 12 days when you will be taking part in various assessments, exams and tests. For many students it is extremely stressful and this is one of the number one reasons becoming a scuba instructor is hard.  You can not “breeze” your way through this. You must pass a series of exams including physics and physiology. Going back to school and studying can be difficult for many people so this is the first hurdle. Prep as much as you can for these exams is the best advice I can give you.

2. The Instructor Exam

One of the things that is more stressful about the instructor exam is that it is independently evaluated. You have an examiner fly in, and put you through your paces. The price is not cheap, but then comparing a professional evaluation, actually it isn’t bad. You have to resit all of your exams, and demonstrate in all areas that you can control and teach students.  If you have studied hard and listened well during your PADI IDC then you will be good.


3. Preparation for the PADI IDC

Before you even embark on the PADI IDC you have to be in the right spot with your dive training. The written pre requisites are 6 months as a scuba diver, Divemaster or dive leader certification. I will note that these are minimum requirements. The longer you spend getting inwater experience the better. Dive numbers are just numbers. For example, 100 dives over 4 months would have you more ready than 100 dives over 10 years.

If you can get experience working as a PADI Divemaster that is also an additional bonus. By having to assist and control real life divers it will be invaluabel experience once you start teaching.

So in answer to our original question, yes, the PADI IDC is hard as firstly you have to go through a lot of preparation to be even begin the course.

4. The Right attitude

This for me is one of the most important. It is easy enough for to say “you need the right attitude” to be a good instructor. But that in itself it hard. One of the most essential things is my opinion is to be humble. We are all human and make mistakes BUT you need to recognise that and learn from it. You may be a great diver, but as an instructor you are always learning, from your students, clients and other instructors. And you need to be willing to learn. 

I have seen many would be instructor come into and IDC with the attitude of they know everything already and that is dangerous. It can lead to lazyiness and then mistakes. 

So, yes, the right attitude can make it hard but you can listen and learn.

5. Long days and stressful nights

I think that is the best way to describe the IDC course.  People are thinking, few hours a day, not too much stress but that is not true. Most days are long, around 8 hours at least, with inwater workshops, ocean diving, and classroom study. That is more than enough to tire out anyone.

Top it off with the fact that you have to prep every evening for the following day, and you have 2 weeks of intense training. 
Is it hard to become a scuba instructor? Yes it is!

self reliant dive training

So in conclusion, is it hard to become an instructor….so , so. But a Good instructor…yes! But hard work and the right attitude will get you there. It will also hopefully get you were you want to be with that exciting job.