Scuba diving opens up a world of excitement and interest not often obtainable in other ways. But if you are an experienced diver, and are passionate about your sport, it is possible to indulge in it more often, and be actually paid for doing so, by becoming a diving instructor.
Becoming a PADI Assistant Instructor or PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor gives you entry into a group of professionals who are among the most highly sought-after dive professionals around the world.
The qualification required to become a PADI diving instructor is the Instructor Development Course (IDC). This, however, requires a number of previous certifications and requirements:
- Experience as a certified diver for at least 6 months
- Divemaster certification
- at least 60 logged dives and 100 dives
- Emergency First Response Primary and Secondary Care training within the last 2 years; this covers CPR and first aid
- a medical certificate signed in the last year
The IDC course itself usually lasts around 7 days, and includes several separate qualifications:
- Assistant Instructor (AI) course
- Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI) course
- Emergency First Response Instructor (EFR) training
Having obtained these certifications you then undergo a PADI Instructor Evaluation (IE). This two-day evaluation program tests the candidate’s teaching ability, diving skills and understanding of the theory, and also their attitude and professionalism. On successfully completing that you will be rated a full PADI Instructor. Some of the theory can be learnt online before attending the classes to give you a head start.
Details of all these courses can be found on the PADI website.
Other Skills Needed
Of course, just excelling at your sport will not, on its own, make you a successful teacher. Also needed are teaching skills themselves. It needs empathy to be able to understand the difficulties your students may be having, and patience and perseverance to go on helping them to sort out problems they have that might seem crystal clear to you. You must like people and get on well with them to be a good instructor.
What It Is Like to be an Instructor?
The income is not huge, but working at resorts or on liveaboards can provide more through tips, and staff accommodation may also be provided. But there will be no paid vacations or fringe benefits. The hours can be long – up to a twelve hour day during a location’s busy season.
Divemasters earn less than instructors, but they can often supplement the wage with underwater photography, selling photos of the trip to their clients who usually welcome a record of their holiday.
In 2013 the ATW80 website interviewed Talon Windwalker, a man who has travelled the world as a dive instructor and writes about it. This is a really excellent read if you want to learn more about the details of life as a diving instructor.
Being a scuba diving instructor is fun and interesting, but it is also hard work. However you will have the chance to visit many different places, and will be indulging your passion.
Jeffrey Glenn is the Founder of Go Pro Asia, one of Thailand’s most popular professional dive training resorts. Jeffrey is a PADI course director and technical diving instructor trainer and has over 20 years’ experience in the dive industry.