Am I Ready to be a Dive Instructor?
You may be wondering… Am I ready to do my instructor development course (IDC)? This is a very common question.
There’s no right or wrong answer, but I can tell you that you probably won’t feel ready. Not when you sign up, not on day one, maybe not even when you pass. But when you teach your first course, and you answer your students’ questions and they look at you like some form of scuba ninja, then you’ll know you were ready. That’s the point of a great IDC. You don’t need to know everything when you start, otherwise we wouldn’t have anything to teach you!
Your IDC is about building on knowledge and skills you previously learnt throughout your Divemaster course, and teaching you how to implement them in a practical, teaching environment. A Divemaster course that prepares you fully will establish greater confidence before starting IDC.
Is it best to do your IDC straight away?
Should you wait until you’ve gained some experience?
Straight from Divemaster to Instructor Course
In tropical countries like Indoneisa, this is a very common route; people absolutely fall in love with the lifestyle during their Divemaster course and are determined to continue on and try to make a career out of it. By completing the courses one after another, they give themselves the advantage of having all the theory and the skills fresh in your mind. Yes, there is further development to be had, but the foundation has just recently been set. Many of us struggle to remember what we did last week, let alone what we learned over a year ago.
Money money money! As we all know these aren’t the cheapest courses to take. Don’t get me wrong they are 100% worth it, but money doesn’t grow on trees, as much as we wish it did. If you go straight from your Divemaster to your IDC with the same shop, most will offer a discount. Staying with the same center also gives you the advantage of knowing the staff and the shop, as well as being familiar with the dive sites and the conditions. This also means you are more likely to get work in the area as you already know how to guide the sites and any particular hazards/points of interest.
If you haven’t independently worked as a DM, then much of your practical experience with real divers has been under the close watch of an instructor during your DMC. And even though you may have watched them deal with many different issues, and perhaps assisted with some, it’s very different being solely in charge of other divers and taking on the duty of care. The more experience you have, the more experience you can draw from. This will ultimately make you a more confident instructor.
Waiting to Gain Experience
As mentioned above, the more time you spend working as a DM, the more experience you gain working with real divers. This means you will be better equipped at handling the common, daily issues that are bound to occur. More knowledge allows you to problem solve and understand the cause and effect relationships in situations.
The other advantage of working for a while as a Divemaster is that it gives you more confidence in knowing what sort of dive shop you would like to work in, and also what sort of dive professional you would like to be. There are so many different types of diving out there, from tropical island paradise diving to high end resorts. Are you itching to ice dive or crazy about caves? Some dive shops will focus on teaching courses, others will rely on recreational options. Some will run two dives a day while others might do up four, or even more. There are endless variables within the dive industry, so knowing what it is you are looking for will be a great help in finding the perfect role for you.
Depending on where you are in the world it can be much harder to find work as a DM versus being an instructor. Many places in S.E Asia for example predominantly employ local divemasters, who have invaluable knowledge about the local sites and conditions, and who rely on work for a stable livelihood. This means you might need to look harder in places like Europe and Australia to find work. Additionally, if you wait to do your IDC and have a difficult time finding work, you may forget some of the skills and theory, making a more difficult transition into the IDC.
So, long story short – you’re probably ready! Everyone is different and needs to do things at their own pace, however, if it’s something you want– then better to go for it. Take the leap, and learn along the way.
Regardless of when you do it, becoming a PADI Instructor will be the best decision you’ve ever made.