Many recreational divers, at least fleetingly, have considered becoming dive instructors. Choosing the best scuba instructor course can make a huge difference when taking those first few steps towards working within an extremely popular industry. It’s not an easy decision, so we’ve put our heads together to point you in the right direction.
Where do you want to work?
Step one is figuring out where you would like to work once you become an instructor. Investigate instructor courses held in that area, as well as the dive centers that host them. It will be far easier to find a job with a dive center that already knows you rather than to hand out résumés, especially if you have little experience.
Many dive-center managers use the time during your scuba instructor course to get to know you a bit better. This helps them decide whether you might fit into the team. It’s not a one-way street, however. You can also find out more about the center, the team and the way things are run. This will help you decide whether this might be a good fit for you. Some centers also offer internships for newly qualified instructors. While you may have to work without pay for a few weeks, reputable centers will treat your internship as an extended job interview.
It’s also a good idea to seek recommendations for courses from instructors you trust and other divers. A personal recommendation usually beats hours of online research.
Observe instructors in action
Another way of getting to know an instructor trainer’s style would be to watch them in action. Maybe your dive center is already running an instructor course and you can offer to help out with logistics? You might also get a chance to speak to those conducting and participating directly in the class. This lets you to get a real feel for what’s happening behind the scenes.
Ask lots of questions. Whether you are speaking to your instructor directly or to someone else at the dive center, you are the customer. You have an important decision to make. There is no such thing as a silly question, so fire away.
And, as if keeping all of that in mind doesn’t offer too much choice already, you must decide which training agency you want to qualify with. This decision will be largely influenced by where you would like to work. PADI, SSI and SDI are among the biggest agencies worldwide. For example, places like Koh Tao, Thailand or Bali have almost equal presences of PADI and SSI dive centers, so either qualification will offer great employment opportunities.
You can typically switch from one agency to another, although you should investigate what’s involved. While SDI and SSI offer crossover programs that are shorter and less costly than a full instructor course, at the time of writing, PADI requires a prospective instructor to sit a full, two-week Instructor Development Course even if they already hold instructor ratings from other agencies.
In the end, your decision on a scuba instructor course will likely come down to a mixture of location, recommendations, and costs for the course. While it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make as you get started, remember that the diving industry is very mobile. Unexpected opportunities can can open up any time, regardless of your certifying agency.
BY GUEST BLOGGER YVONNE PRESS