That is correct, there is a NOT in the title. We are always being bombarded with advertising suggesting that, as divers, it is natural for us to want to become scuba diving instructor. The glamour of living in a tropical paradise, diving every day, the freedom of being our own boss, the oohs and aahs you hear talking about your work, these are just some of the items that are put before us to convince us that becoming a scuba diving instructor is our perfect job. The concept pushed by many accreditation agencies is that anyone can become a scuba diving instructor. Maybe that is true and maybe not. The real question is should they become a scuba diving instructor.

If you are a visitor to any of the many message boards or groups that focus on scuba diving, you will likely come across numerous threads concerning instructors quality. There is a perception that the quality of instruction is not consistent and there are many scuba diving instructors that are a danger to themselves and their students. Given that the scuba diving industry is self-regulated and many instructors are freelanced, the structure to identify and remove or retrain substandard instructors is weak to nonexistent.

Not Cut Out To Be A Teacher

A portion of the time that I was in the military I was an instructor. Typically at that point, I would teach a two or four-week block of instruction from a 40-week course. In a years time, about 400 students would pass through my classroom. Imagine getting 20 new students every two weeks, for the students the information you are teaching is new but for you, it is repeating the same information. It would take a degree of dedication to hold on to the point that it new to them and not get slack in your teaching.

Teaching is as much art as it is science. The instructor development course will present to your teaching methods. In a classroom setting where you are the student learning these “skills”, it easy to act out your role. However, in real life, your students are not going to be operating from a script. They will be learning at their rate and in the perception of their own past knowledge and experiences. As an instructor, you are the one that has to adapt. Do you have that flexibility?

Think back to when you were in high school or college. Was there a teacher or professor who you felt had no right to teach? They might be an expert in their field but could not relate to the students or present the material in a manner where the knowledge could be transferred.

When I was about to retire from the military, I entered a program to become a certified as a teacher. An early childhood development course was one of the requirements for certification. Sitting in class one day, it came to me that I did not like kids enough to teach them. The image of hundreds of screaming kids in the hallways between classes was enough for me to change my mind.

discover scuba
Discover Scuba Class photograph by Jose Kevo

The question for you, are you flexible enough in how you relate to people to teach that 10-year-old as well as the 70-year-old? Can you deal with the teenager who thinks they know it all because they did the online training?

It is a Perfect Job, You Get to Scuba Dive All The Time

Yes, you do get to scuba dive very often. I have to ask, what is it about scuba diving that you love? When you are an instructor, your focus has to be 100% on your students. Taking your eyes off from them even for a minute, so you can watch the life on the reef, might allow your student to do something that leads to a serious injury or even more. Yes, I am being a bit dramatic but sadly it happens. When you have students in your care, the focus of your dive is entirely different. When you are diving with a certified buddy, both of you have an understanding of the risk and the training to minimize them. Your attention does not need to be on your buddy all the time. That is not the situation with a student.

It Easy To Get Trained and Find a Job

Many a Gap Year traveler have found becoming a scuba diving instructor is a great way to work and support themselves while traveling. Okay, I fully agree, with some limitations. The Zero to Hero style programs that will take you from a non-diver to instructor in seven months can really accelerate the process. After you get to have your Divemaster certification, many of the programs will have you do an internship with them. Look at the overall program carefully. Many of the internship programs are just a step away from slavery. You will be working hard and often paying them for the privilege. Not all of the work will be underwater leading groups or be assisting an instructor.

scuba gear set up on beach
Getting Gear Ready for a dive Photograph by Doun

After completing the training, you might be able to stay on with the dive center that trained you. If not, you are out on your own looking. Depending on the agency that certified you, you might be able to work as a freelancer or you may be required to work as an employee.

Are You Willing and Capable To Take Responsibility for Someone’s Life

This is likely one that you never heard mention in the advertisement encouraging you to become an instructor. Are You Willing and Capable To Take Responsibility for Someone’s Life? As a diver, we do take on a degree of responsibility for another diver each time we dive as part of a buddy team. That responsibility, however, it tempered with the fact that the other diver as some understanding of the risk and has received training to deal with them.

What about the student having their first experience underwater? It is a different world for them, exciting and scary at the same time. Sadly, we frequently read news stories where someone has died while undergoing scuba diving training. Think about the responsibility you would take on having a discover scuba student. Whether the student really understands it or not, they are depending on you to keep them safe. Recently, a story was played up in the news where a discover diving student drowned when he felled back into the water while still wearing his weight belt. Divers responded quickly to reach him but were not fast enough. I do not know if the instructor did anything wrong, maybe he told the diver to remove the belt first. That is not the point. The point is that the instructor will have to live with the fact that someone under his care died.

A final similar point, are you comfortable always diving solo? Every time you are diving with a student that is not a certified diver, you are for all intents and purposes diving solo. You can not really rely on them in an emergency. Worst, you can not even focus 100% on your own recovery in case of an emergency as you can not leave your student behind.

Can You Work With It?

All the negatives aside, the industry does have a need for qualified instructors that will uphold and even surpass the standards of the accreditation agencies. If the NOTS above don’t apply to you, then consider working towards that instructor qualification.

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