Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
CHOOSING A CAREER / SEP. 22, 2014
version 5, draft 5

How to Become a Scuba Diving Instructor in the US

Scuba diving instructors usually have a passion for the water and get paid for sharing this passion with others. Scuba diving instructors perform the dual function of teaching clients a practical skill and entertaining them. They usually conduct basic training for clients who wish to go and explore the deep sea and then accompany them to show them the wonders of the ocean. In many cases, scuba diving instructors are former commercial divers and those with a thirst for adventure.

What Does a Scuba Diving Instructor Do?

They usually conduct introductory training sessions in the swimming pool before proceeding with those who feel confident enough to explore in the open sea. Their specific duties include:

  • Advising clients on whether or not they can scuba dive on the basis of existing medical conditions that are proscribed for diving. This includes sickle cell anemia and epilepsy
  • Identifying the equipment and training clients on how to use them for the underwater diving and exploration sessions
  • Training clients on diving techniques and especially on what not to do while underwater
  • Teaching clients safety measures, and how to respond when they have difficulties underwater
  • Accompany their trainee scuba divers into open waters and guideing them as they explore the environment
  • Administering first-aid measures in the event of any issue arising while out in the ocean
  • Monitoring the scuba diving equipment to ensure it is functioning properly
  • To maintain a constant watch of the surroundings, and guide the trainee scuba divers out in case of any issue arising such as an incoming storm or hurricane
  • Regularly check the equipment and liaise with the management of the establishment to ensure that defective ones are repaired and worn ones replaced

Qualifications

To qualify as a scuba diver, you will have to be trained and certified as an instructor. PADI-certified instructors are in high demand all over the world as this is the international standard for the profession.

To be admitted to a scuba diving instructor course you will need:

  • To have completed your high school education
  • To be a good swimmer
  • Be physically fit and to undergo a medical examination to discover any underlying or previously unknown condition that may be exacerbated at great depths, such as an aneurysm
  • There are other disqualifying medical conditions, such as epilepsy, pregnancy, sickle cell anemia or a ruptured eardrum that keeps you from being able to balance or equalize pressure

The instructor development course is divided into two. The Assistant Instructor course for beginners and the Open Water Instructor Program for experiences candidates. It is conducted for a week and covers topics such as:

  • Diving physics
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Decompression techniques
  • First aid training and emergency medical rescue
  • Equipment mechanics
  • Public relations

You will need to have at least 50 to 100 hours of dive experience in different conditions before you are ready to instruct.

Skills

There are skills that will help you to perform better at your job:

  • Flexibility and organization skills so that you are ready to go when required
  • People skills because you are not just teaching clients to dive, you are leading them on a tour and in the process entertaining them
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to influence and motivate your clients so that they complete the course and get the experience they came for
  • Ability to stay calm when unexpected things happen
  • Quick reflexes and the ability to make split-second decisions when the occasion calls for it
  • High degree of responsibility and accountability given that the clients are literally entrusting you with their lives

Salary

Scuba instructors earn a salary but they also have supplementary income in the form of tips from satisfied customers. The annual salary range is:

Entry Level 

$31,500

Mid Career

$38,250

Successful

$45,000

 

Work Environment

They are employed in dive stores, training organizations, cruise ships, hotels, beach resorts and other tourist spots to train and entertain clients in underwater excursions. Scuba divers spend most of their time underwater in pools or the open sea. They do not work regular hours but conduct their instruction courses for specific periods of time. When they are not in the sea leading their trainees or practising, they are on-shore inspecting the gear to ensure it is in good working condition.

Career Growth and Job Outlook

Although certification greatly enhances your chances of getting employment, you will have to be creative when seeking job opportunities. While there are a number of opportunities in the United States, there are even more opportunities in tropical holiday destinations in the Caribbean, South America and Africa. Therefore, you might have to travel around to enjoy the full potential of this career path. There are opportunities for growth in specialized areas, such as training clients in underwater photography. You can also graduate towards training other trainers in advanced diving techniques, once you have accumulated enough experience on the job.

If a traditional career does not seem appealing to you and you would like to mix your work and play, then a career as a scuba diving instructor would be ideal for you. You get to spend hours in the ocean exploring and honing your skill and then teaching others to do the same.

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