A dive professional has to be a people person, because their whole day is spent interacting with people. Many scuba instructors in the early days were not so much people who liked people as people who liked ordering other people around.
Today, the world of scuba-diving is very different. Sympathy and empathy are the key words; if you can develop bonds easily and have the capacity to understand what someone is experiencing from within their frame of reference, you’ll make a good instructor.
Groups of divers are composed of free-thinking, unpredictable, excitable individuals who can disrupt your carefully laid plans in an instant. The limits of a dive instructor’s ability to remain calm are tested every day.
It is crucial for a dive instructor to know how to manage time. Whether you’re teaching a course or leading a group of divers, you’re always limited by time. You have to exercise time discipline yourself and see that your students and customers do likewise, all without spoiling the fun. It’s a tough balance to achieve.
If you see becoming a dive instructor as an opportunity to leave home and head for an exotic tropical destination, you will find plenty of job vacancies. Dive instructors often burn out or move on.
Recognise, however, that you will be competing in an international job market in which everyone has your diving qualifications and more. To find work you must have other strings to your bow too.
The ability to speak a number of languages is very useful, as is a work background as a mechanic or in the hospitality, service or travel industries.
If you plan to stay at home and teach diving part-time, your success will depend on finding a local dive-centre to teach through, and coming up with a hitherto-untapped source of potential scuba-diving students, beyond your family and friends. Have a viable plan before embarking on your instructor course.
You need to be physically and mentally fit. Full-time instructors dive 15-30 times a week, and work long hours.
A lot of that time involves hauling gear and loading or unloading trucks and boats. They are also “on stage” for much of the time, keeping the customers happy and entertained.
There is not much downtime and, in high season, very little time off.
THE DIVEMASTER MYTH
There are other professions in the scuba-diving world, such as journalism, travel or resort management, but the entry point for most dive professionals is instructor.
You might not want to teach, just to be a dive-guide or divemaster. Unfortunately, although the training agencies refer to divemaster as a professional qualification, in practice it is almost impossible to find a paid job in scuba-diving if you are not at least an instructor.
Generally, the only people without instructor qualifications who work as guides or divemasters are those from countries where economic levels are much lower than in the West.
These folk earn extremely low salaries and can’t afford instructor-training fees which, wherever the courses are run, are set at first-world levels.