How do I Become a Scuba Diving Instructor, and be successful!

If you are thinking about a career in scuba diving, but are not yet an instructor, or even a divemaster yet, there are things you can start doing right now!

Work as a scuba diving instructor in an office like this!

How long does it take to become a Scuba Diving Instructor?

To become a scuba instructor with PADI you need to have been certified as an entry-level diver with any agency for at least six months before you can take the instructor course. Also you need to have an Advanced diver certification, a rescue certification, and a Divemaster or Dive Leader certification. They do not have to be PADI certifications, but it helps once you start teaching PADI courses!

But what else can you do to be SUCCESSFUL?

Start Blogging – Right Now!

This may sound strange, but as you read through this article it will make sense.

There are probably hundreds if not thousands of other people thinking about doing the same thing as you at this moment. In the future, there will be tens of thousands considering doing what you are thinking about at this juncture.

If you start a blog, maybe just one post a week. Describe the decisions you are facing, the online resources you found useful, the people you contacted and whether they were helpful. Then as you start taking the courses necessary to become a PADI Pro describe them. It may be describing dives that stand out in your mind. These dives may be memorable for good reasons or bad; it is all interesting information. Anything you can share that may help other people make a more informed decision themselves about how to go about it.

Why will this help you build a more successful career in scuba? If you have a blog full of useful, quality information on a particular subject (becoming a scuba instructor), it will appear in search engine results. That means that you are building a marketing channel that you can use in the future, once you are an instructor, to attract potential students. When you start applying for jobs, potential employers will see this virtual real estate you own as something that makes you a very attractive prospective employee. You can demonstrate that you understand the business of diving, that marketing is part of the job, and you are good at it. You may intend to work as a self-employed instructor, a quality blog which has many external links to it is valuable. Having an established blog will become the foundation of a successful marketing campaign for your own dive business.

Choose the right IDC.

At the end of the instructor development course, there is an exam – the feared PADI Instructor Exam! It is human nature to focus on passing this exam, but it isn’t the real test at all! The true test is the first class you will teach as a PADI instructor.

You want to learn from a course director who teaches you to be a good instructor, NOT how to pass the IE. Course directors that focus on getting the perfect score in the IE often do so as the cost of preparing you for the real-life problems that the IDC should be preparing you to handle. The experience your course director has will play a big part in this. When I first started teaching as a new course director, I fell into this trap myself. I was more concerned about my candidates passing the IE than taking the time to focus on more real world training. As time passed and my confidence built, I started to assign problems I knew my instructor candidates would face in their day to day work after they had passed the IE. It's one thing to pass the IE,  but once you land your first job, if you make a mess of the first few courses you teach, you are going to lose that job. I realized it was my job to make sure that didn’t happen.

What is the PADI IDC? You learn positive teaching techniques, effective control and supervision underwater.

Train in conditions similar to those you plan to work. The IDC certainly isn’t easy; it is made much harder by cold water and low visibility. So choosing to take the instructor course in such conditions certainly, adds an amount of task loading. However, if you are going to teach in those conditions after passing the IE it may well be worth training in those same conditions. There is another option, though. You may decide to take the IDC in nice warm tropical waters and get the OWSI rating under your belt, and then take MSDT training in tougher conditions, similar to those in which you plan to teach.


Finding Work

Your resume or CV:

Many people forget how valuable the experience they have gained before becoming an instructor is. Your resume should briefly list your dive experience, but as a new instructor don’t waste time trying to make it look like you have more experience than you do. The number of dives you have the specialties you have taken and where you have dived is all that is needed.

Add a photo that makes you look well groomed and presentable

Work available in scuba diving. An example of the PADI Classifieds job listing. Over 35 jobs posted in a random three day period.

Work available in scuba diving. An example of the PADI Classifieds job listing. Over 35 jobs posted in a random three day period.

Make your nondiving work experience sound applicable to work in scuba diving. If you have worked in a hotel or restaurant, emphasize the customer service aspects of that job. Good customer service is important in the dive industry. Dive shops look for people who know how to keep customers happy. If you have any experience with computers, particularly web design or graphic design highlight this. Dive shops need people to keep their websites up to date! Mechanical knowledge is important to highlight if you have it – there is a lot of equipment to fix around a dive shop! Writing skills are highly valued, dive shops need to engage potential customers online through blogs, facebook, twitter, etc. Think about the jobs you have done, and describe them appropriately on your resume.

Don’t forget to provide a link to that great Blog you have been writing. By then it should have followers, links to it, and plenty of content! Dive shop owners should know that when you start blogging about your new job with their dive operation and providing links to their website, it will help their Google ranking.

Build a personal website; anyone can do that nowadays using content editors such as Wix or Squarespace. On the site you can show off a nice gallery of photos, links to people and companies you did your training with, and general content about the diving lifestyle, you can probably use some of the stuff you wrote in your blog to bulk it out.

When you send your Resume to potential employers research them! You need to write a covering email along with your resume. You need to write a different email for EACH application. Make sure you explain in this email why you want to work at their particular dive shop. What makes them stand out from the crowd. Their website and a Facebook page should tell you what THEY think make them stand out. In this covering email demonstrate you understand their message and want to be a part of their culture.

Making a reasonable income

Once you have got a job, it's time make sure it pays. Many jobs are commission based; you get paid for the courses you teach and dives you lead. Some are salaried, but even then tips will likely make up a significant part of your income.

You need to be well organized. This means planning out your courses and taking account of the weather and other logistical issues. A well-planned course will be more enjoyable for your students, less stressful for you and finish on time! A badly planned course ends up taking extra time, time that you are now unable to use either attracting or teaching new students.

Its not all glamorous work! Dive instructors have many shop duties other than diving.

Its not all glamorous work! Dive instructors have many shop duties other than diving.

Understand your job is not just in the water. The good thing is that you will be spending a lot of time doing what you love – diving, but there are other aspects to the job. I have touched on these in the resume section above. The dive center you work at needs to attract customers for you to teach and guide, they need your help doing that. You will need to take photos and post them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Tag the customers in those photos. Keep blogging and maintaining your personal website as well.

You will also need to help fill tanks, fix equipment, maintain the boat. Probably do some cleaning, painting and various other jobs. The instructors that help the most around the shop get noticed. They start getting the better paying work.

If you find yourself working at a dive op that sells equipment there will probably be extra commission opportunities to sell that equipment. Make sure you wear the equipment that your shop sells when teaching courses. Students are likely to buy equipment they see you wearing! Learn about the equipment your shop sells, it’s pros and cons etc. You need to be knowledgeable about the products to successfully sell them. Make sure you sell the right equipment for your customer, not the equipment that makes you the biggest income. If your customers are happy with what they bought from you, they will seek purchasing advice from you in the future.

All that’s left to say is go start that blog