Difference Between Master Scuba Diver Trainer and Master Instructor

Master Scuba Diver Trainer: Just What it Says on the Tin | Master Instructor: Elite, Experienced Dive Professional


By John Kinsella

As a PADI professional, you’ve likely had more than a couple of conversations about “mastery.” As a diver, you demonstrated mastery of the skills required for the various courses you took. Now you help others master those same skills in your role as an instructor or instructional assistant. Mastery is a key component in a performance-based system of education. You know it’s not something to be taken lightly, and it’s no accident that the word also appears in two instructor ratings: PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and PADI Master Instructor.

The first of these, Master Scuba Diver Trainers, as the name implies, have the qualifications and experience needed to train PADI Master Scuba Divers: the ultimate recreational diver rating. This is a reasonable and attainable short-term goal for all newly qualified PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors.


MSDTs are Open Water Scuba Instructors with five or more specialty instructor ratings and at least 25 diver certifications. This rating helps them stand out as instructors who take continuing education seriously, looks great on a CV and it’s a prerequisite for IDC Staff Instructor and many TecRec instructor ratings.

PADI Master Instructor is arguably the most respected dive instructor credential in the world. It takes commitment, drive and experience to earn the rating, making it a worthy long-term goal.


MIs have extensive experience with the entire PADI System of Diver education. They have been PADI Instructors for at least two years and have issued 150 or more certifications for a variety of levels. They use the entire PADI System, including all appropriate PADI training materials. They are IDC Staff Instructors (qualified to assist on Instructor Development Courses and certify PADI Assistant Instructors) who actively support the PADI organization.

In short, PADI Master Instructors are elite scuba diving educators who, through dedication and hard work, have become de facto dive industry leaders. Their next stop? Course Director, but more about that later…

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