I get applications for scuba diving instructor positions on a weekly basis, and as someone who isn’t even advertising a position, it can baffle me a little sometimes. As much as possible I want to help new people get a foot hold into the dive industry but very much one of the only things I feel I can do a lot of the time is offer advice, maybe connect the right people and at least point them in the right direction. So, with that being said, I thought I would just offer some food for thought with regards to working in the dive industry, and remember, as usual, this is my humble opinion, as there are some serious trolls out there who just love to jump on the band wagon and bleat about the woes of the industry and the rest! I started going into one about the joys and woes of internships as well but decided to save that for another post next week!
First up, yes, it’s bloody hard, but then no offence, what isn’t!
Do I have to be an Instructor to get a job?
To start on the initial myth of the dive industry, it is hard to get a good job, yes, as there is a lot of competition, and even more so as a Divemaster. It is much easier to get a job as a scuba instructor than a Divemaster for the primary reason, a scuba instructor can do a Divemasters job, and Divemaster cannot do an instructors job. I know there are dive centers out there around the globe that are allowing Divemasters to teach discover scuba diving programs in the Ocean and teach some of the open water program.
For those of you that are Divemasters, this is a break of standards. You can only teach a Discover scuba diving program in a confined water environment and only if they are not going to the Ocean. If the student is going to go to the Ocean, the skills must be taught by an instructor. Yes, you can take a discover scuba diver in the Ocean but only on the second and any other subsequent dive. In a resort area, where most of our clients are discover scubas or open water divers we need to have an updated, renewed instructor.
Of all of the students I have taught both divemaster and instructor to over the years, the ones that are still in the dive industry full time are the instructors and they are all around the world having a great time. Whilst some of them may not have had the initial thought to become an instructor, including myself, when it became apparent that that was they easier way to get into the dive industry as a whole, on the diving side, I took that step.
Would it help if I speak other languages?
This is entirely dependent on where you want to teach. That’s a given. If you are looking at working around the world, then yes, you may get picked up easier if you are able to at least basically communicate in the languages spoken by the majority of tourists. Now I know the language underwater is universal BUT on the service, for safety reasons, you need to be able to brief your students and clients. In this part of the world, spanish and english is a big one. In egypt, Russian, more and more around the world chinese is being asked for. You can speak english and make your way around the world but why not put yourself a head above some of the others. Again, Just my example, but for three students I have had that had language skills, after applying during an IDC program with my help they secured job offers and jobs before the program was finished. This was languages across the board as well, with Russian, german and french being asked for.
What other skills are helpful?
The industry is so competitive it is best to get that edge with other skills for example, equipment servicing, boat handling, and computer skills especially with regards to marketing. If you can assist the dive center with as many roles as possible it will make you a much better prospect for someone hiring, especially if you approach it with a a “this is what I can do to assist you and your dive center attitude”. There are a lot of great ways to get those skills including internships. It’s one of the key things that we have tried to develop here in Costa Rica. I always say to everyone, if you want to learn, just ask and we will teach you, effectively arming everyone with as many skills as they may need. There are plenty of dive instructors out there who will teach and leave for the day, it is a clearly a job and they are running through the paces. I hate to say it but I want to see passion for what you do and with that you’ll go far.
You will have to fight to get where you want
I had to fight for my position, as in I had passion for what I did, and what I wanted to do. I have never stopped learning myself, because I know, that with every new thing I learn, I can bring something new to the courses and students that I teach. That will also keep things fresh for you and keep the spark that lights the fire under your butt for what you do. You may have to create your own position, if you see a niche then grab it.
It’s who you know..
Certainly connections and networking help in any industry and so it is true of the scuba diving industry. There is never any guarantee of a job anywhere and I have to say one of my pet peeves is when I get asked if I can guarantee someone a job after an instructor program before I have even met them. No, I can’t! I cannot and will not recommend anyone to a position until I have worked with them for a period of time either over a course or program as if it is someone who doesn’t fit, the next time you are looking to place someone else, you will have a harder time doing so. I have certainly helped place instructors coming out of an IDC and pointed them in the right direction and that is about as much as anyone can realistically offer. You cannot be expected to have everything handed to you on a platter. As my ex-students have now headed out all round the world, my network is growing so helping future students is always on the agenda.
I hope these points have just given you some food for thought and if you have any of your own please let me know. As I mentioned at the beginning, I will be continuing on with this subject when I start chatting about internships in my next post so until pronto!