Having over 20 years experience in the scuba diving industry, gives me a unique perspective on the wonderful experiences that life in this industry can offer you. The dive industry and being a diving instructor has given me a wonderful life, I’ve met amazing people, developed friendships I’ll have forever, travelled the blue planet and dived in the most jaw dropping locations. It’s a life anybody from any walk of life can have but you need to know where to start.
One of the ways for you to enter into the dive industry is to become a Dive Professional and work around the world as a Divemaster or as a Scuba Diving Instructor. There are a few choices you need to make first thou.
Choosing your Dive Agency
• PADI! As they are the largest certifying recreational agency on the planet, thanks to the remarkable job of their sales and marketing team. You will get more job opportunities being a PADI instructor then any of the other mainstream agencies.
• They have excellent brand recognition, an e-learning system that offers convenience and flexibility, marketing campaigns and programs to help in diver acquisition, diver retention and ProLevel continuing education.
• The PADI sales staff are also very supportive and present in the field. At the recreational level, PADI’s support is superb. And they should be commended for that.
• PADI also have an efficient online service for certification and training materials in place, and has an active involvement in environmental conservation with their Project Aware commitment.
Clear benefits right there as to why I’d recommend PADI as your choice of dive agency for your recreational professional diver level training. Once certified as an OWSI thou, and some experience gained, I’d highly recommend to look into becoming dual certified with one of the other agencies. But i’ll leave the finer details of that for another blog post.
Choosing your Dive Centre
This is where the decision becomes a little more challenging. Which tropical island do you choose from. The blue planet is covered in amazing dive locations with excellent Course Directors and trainers for you to select from. Locations from Koh Tao, Thailand to the Caribbean islands, Dahab in Egypt, Cozumel in Mexico to the Great Barrier Reef. As someone who has dived in pretty much every dive hot spot around the world, you really are blessed for choices in dive locations with excellent IDC centres to base yourself at for your professional training.
Choosing your Course Director.
The industry shakers and movers are Course Directors and Instructor Trainers. They create the next batch of instructors who create all the divers. They have the top-down influence on skills, gear sales, dive travel, attitudes … pretty much everything.
Your Course Director, not the agency, will be the reason you succeed in the dive industry.
They will take their experience and passion, whether that’s for a specific course structure, gear configurations, sales techniques … whatever, and pass it along to you, the instructor candidates. They must give you the tools you need to be a success.
There are hundreds of Course Directors around the world vying for your hard earned money. All with a gimmick or 2 up their sleeve to win your vote. Beware thou, not all CD’s are created equally. 🙂
Some Course Directors are the real deal, and have earned my respect, a very definite WOW factor with their personalities, amazing diving accomplishments and inspiring diving adventures while some, are just plain Course Directors, and sadly, just not so memorable.
So lets discuss now what you can do to best filter thru all that noise and help you make the most informed decision in choosing your Course Director for your professional diver training.
QUALITY vs QUANTITY
As you search the web for your preferred PADI Course Director, I’d like you too keep in mind this true story about Toyota. Like PADI, Toyota are a Global leader in their respective industry and Toyota faced some real problems when their management team started emphasising quantity over quality.
Think back between 2009 – 11 when Toyota had its issues with its manufacturing process. Toyota have always been synonymous with quality. When Toyota wished to be the largest car manufacturer in the world, they succeeded and produced close to 3 million additional automobiles in 6 years. A great achievement. But that higher quantity of mass production came at a cost to the quality they had become famous for. Close to 9 million Toyota vehicles were recalled and Toyota received some well – deserved bad publicity. Since the crisis, Toyota has slowed down production and returned to it’s commitment to its core principles, focusing once again, on quality, not quantity, as it’s mission, concentrating on each small step along the way in the developing process of their vehicles. And now, Toyota’s reputation for quality has been restored.
What does this have to do with selecting your PADI CD you may ask?
As you search the internet for your best location and CD to guide you thru your training, you’ll notice the majority market themselves as award winning and or Platinum Course Directors.
What does this actually mean?
Well, they have won an award, simply, for doing their job as a CD. Which is to develop your skills and knowledge during the IDC, and for you to pass your Instructor Exam.
And full congratulations to those award winning Course Directors.
What you do need to know is that it’s an award that represents quantity. They have met a certain quota of students for that year and as an incentive, PADI awards them a given title based on those numbers. Platinum / Gold / Silver rated Course Directors. Simply put, if you meet the quota, you’ll get an award. Being rewarded for your hard work is always satisfying and I applaud PADI for using this strategy to keep their elite trainers motivated.
But remember, that the award winning Course Director you choose is rewarded for the quantity of students he has, NOT the quality of programs that they run. For quality, you need to look deeper into what else that CD offers.
It’s your job now to filter thru the internet and find that Course Director that also delivers a quality based program. Look into what else they can offer you and don’t be shy to ask the tough questions when communicating with your potential trainers. After all, it is your hard earned money that you’re investing into your future dive career.
My advice is to definitely choose an award winning Course Director, they are good at their job and will get you thru your Instructor exam, but be smart, and also look a little deeper to see what else they can offer you. Be careful not to be just another number in their pursuit for that Platinum status.
Their are a lot of excellent Course Directors and amazing IDC locations out there for you to select from. Here’s a few tips from me in what else to look for when selecting your location and CD for you professional diver level training.
- Is the CD Tec trained? Technically trained divers are simply more skilled, more knowledgeable and more dive safety aware then recreational divers. Any Course Director worth their salt will have some form of technical training under their belt. As a Tec trained diver, you are a better diver. As a better diver, you make a better Instructor. Period. This goes up several notches when referring to Course Directors. All CD’s, serious about the future of their candidates, in my mind, should be tec trained. They simply have more knowledge and a greater in water skill set to pass onto their students. I recommend to anyone even considering becoming a dive professional, to consider becoming a tec diver first. You simply will be more knowledgeable about all aspects of diving. A Course Director that is tec trained will put more emphasis on diving correctly. Buoyancy / Trim will be on point, awareness will be on point, gas management will be on point, positioning and communication will be more effective. Their impact on the fragile environment will be lessened due to a superior in water skill set and increased situational awareness. Watching a diver with a greater skill set will always inspire you to be a better diver. This is Role Model behaviour.
Some links to the Tec training we offer here at GoPro-Asia.
- Diving Experience! Do they still dive for themselves? When was the last time they dived outside of their IDC programs? What type of diving do they do? After all, PADI promote their Course Directors as the leaders of the dive industry. As leaders of this amazing industry, in my opinion, they should be making the effort to dive on a regular basis. Either at their home base or dive trips to any of the epic dive locations around the world. Being an active diver helps by expanding their personal dive experiences and also giving them insights into how diving is conducted in other parts of the world. Experiences and insights they can then draw from and share when they are teaching you during your IDC. If your CD is still actively diving outside of his work commitments, then for me, it still shows they have the passion for what they do. And from my experience, it’s these passionate educators that haven’t forgotten why they are in they dive industry, that are the ones truly inspiring the next generation of divers, educators and marine conservationists.
- Teaching Experience! Look at where else they have worked in the dive industry around the world. The more dive destinations they have worked in, means they have a far greater experiences to draw from when guiding you thru your IDC. Have they taught courses in strong currents like Indonesia has? Have they worked as Instructors on Liveaboards in the Red Sea and Great Barrier Reef? Have they taken students on beautiful wall dives like you will experience in places like Dahab and the Phillipines or Grand Cayman? During your IDC, an important element is conducting open water dives and if your CD has experience in differing environments, then their advise has a lot more substance then those that haven’t. Also, having world wide teaching experience, your chosen CD will have a larger network of contacts around the world, meaning it maybe easier for you to make those contacts you need in that dream destination for that dream dive job.
- Does the Course Director represent a dive facility that can offer you extra training in other areas in the dive industry. Does it have a thriving retail department? Do they have a eco or conservation department? Do they have a free diving department and do they have a Tec Diving department led by an experienced and respected Technical Instructor Trainer? Your Course Director may very well be busy teaching his award winning IDC’s, but if they have around them, a strong team of educators representing these different diving departments, then you are on the right track in finding a quality program for you as they will and should utilise the expertise of these dive professionals for extra presentations and additional workshops throughout your training process. Exposure to all elements of the dive industry will only benefit you in a positive way, inspire you, and help shape your thoughts and ambitions as you begin your new career as a dive pro.
- How Is your Course Director continuing there own personal development as a diver? Does your chosen Course Director take the amazing opportunity to became a student themselves again? They very well should be IMO. Doesn’t matter how many awards you’ve won, you can never stop learning and improving yourself. During the academic presentation section of your IDC, your CD will discuss the benefits of promoting continuing education to your students. This is a massive part of the entry level dive industry and a key cog in diver retention. It’s important your CD is practising what he preaches here and is active in continuing their own development as a diver / educator. If they are not passionate about improving themselves, then my advise, is to stay clear of these CD’s, they are more than likely in the not so memorable category.
- Lastly, your Quality based Instructor Development program starts with ensuring your PADI Course Director will be with you on every day of your program. If you’re training with an award winning CD, ensure they will be with you from Day 1, your mock IE and the most important days, the IE. The IE can be the most stressful part of your development process towards becoming a Diving Instructor, and thou you’ll be well prepared to enter the IE, the nerves can still be a bit much. Too have your CD with you for moral support is a great feeling and usually they can help deflect those anxious feelings with a few well chosen words of support.
Choosing a good mentor and trainer for quality diver training is one of the most important decisions when becoming a dive professional. As related in my story about Toyota, quantity isn’t always best when selecting your CD. A combination of quantity and quality is the ideal and winning formula.
Choose your Course Director wisely and remember, you are paying to learn new skills and gain knowledge from the experiences of an active quality dive instructor.
At GoPro Asia and Bans Diving Resort, we have more Platinum Rated PADI Course Directors on staff then any other dive centre in Thailand. Some of the most experienced in the industry. They are Multi-lingual and each has teaching and diving experience outside of Koh Tao.
- All of our PADI Course Directors are technical divers certified to Extended Range level and TDI Intro to Cave. One of our CD’s has just started his journey to become a Technical diving Instructor with me.
- We have a marine conservation branch at our dive centre and our team is actively involved in daily beach and reef clean ups and every conservation project conducted on our little island home. Our team are in the process of making an artificial reef on our house reef and this is an excellent project to get involved with.
- We have a large retail outlet named ‘The Scuba Store’, located in Sairee which stocks all the leading brands from Sharkskin, Fourth Element, Halcyon, Aqua Lung and Apeks products to name but a few. One of the largest and well stocked retail centres of any of Koh Tao’s dive centres
- We have a very strong technical diving department. We are the only Career Development Centre on the island that can offer the full range of diver and Instructor level technical diving programs. We offer courses thru PADI TecRec, TDI and RAID. Full Cave Diver / CCR Cave Diver / Trimix Diver / Sidemount Diver / CCR Diver / Extended Range Diver.We are also proudly the only dive centre that conducts monthly TEC Xplore days with our Divemaster and Instructor candidates getting the chance to try our world class expedition range rebreathers and other technical diving equipment like twinsets and sidemount. No other CDC on Koh Tao has the knowledge, skill set, or personal to be able to do this.
Our Career Development Centre on Koh Tao, Bans Diving Resort, is your one stop centre for your professional diver education. We have the most experienced, dedicated staff that I’ve ever worked with. Our CD’s will be with you every step of the way to your IE, fully conducting every aspect of your training. You will receive added presentations about technical diving, conservation and retail.
You also receive as part of your pro level package
- FREE lunches during your IDC
- FREE PADI backpack,
- FREE cool t shirt
- FREE diving for life.
- Assistance with your CV and job placement
- TEC Xplore day. Opportunity to try our expedition range rebreathers
- An insurance package to suits your needs
- FREE Intro to Tec program
Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about joining our award winning, quality driven professional diver programs here on Koh Tao.