Seasoned Pros: Tips for New Instructors

kara and nate scuba diving PADI Divers

By Tara Bradley Connell

Sharing a love of diving with a new diver is one of the most rewarding experiences for a PADI Pro. And with knowledge and time, the lessons learned along the way are priceless. Here are some tips from PADI’s seasoned pros on how to create a successful and enjoyable career in diving.

Read Your Students

When Conrad Rucker, a PADI course director at Dive Georgia, learned to dive, it was with a steel 72, single-hose regulator, and a backpack. Since then, the gear requirements have gotten an upgrade, and he’s trained over 1,500 divers. For Rucker, focusing on the students and their different skill levels is his strongest piece of advice.

“Always put the students’ safety first,” he says. “Look out for the ‘weakest link’ of the group. Have fun. If you’re not enjoying it, your students probably aren’t, either.”

conrad rucker

It’s Never Too Late

Louise Kiyani, a PADI MSDT at Diveworld, located in Yorkshire, England, didn’t try diving until she was 38. In fact, she was terrified of open water areas. Thanks to her patient instructor, she found her footing.

“My very first dive was mind-blowing! All my fears vanished in an instant, and I was hooked – the poor guy couldn’t get rid of me for days after that,” she laughs.

Today, she has a dive center and has trained over 1,000 divers. For Kiyani, it’s all about taking your time.

“I overcame fear and pushed myself and have never been more surprised at my own ability and I’ve never looked back,” she said. “My advice would be don’t hesitate and choose carefully.  Teach what you love to do, stay focused and give your best. I firmly believe the rewards will come back at you tenfold.”

louise kiyani

Don’t Give Up

Made Partayasa has been diving since 1998, but it wasn’t until March 2019 that he took the next step and became a course director at Blue Corner Dive Lembongan in Bali. Today, he has trained almost 800 divers.

Partayasa says that it was the perseverance he learned from his family at Blue Corner Dive that helped him pass his Instructor Exam – even after he initially failed the physics and equipment segments.

“Cody saw ‘failure’ as a normal step, and worked tirelessly to help me succeed,” he says. “I never wanted to be an instructor because I was too afraid of my English and theory. Cody used to stay from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to help me learn it all. I could not have done it without the support and guidance from Cody, Andrew, and the Blue Corner Dive family.  I can now pass on that same support, patience, and understanding to every candidate I have.” 

Made Partayasa

Build Your Logbook

In 1990, Simon Hotchkin tried diving on a fluke while on holiday. Today, he is a PADI Master Instructor and owns Stellare Divers, in Lincolnshire, England. For Hotchkin, and his 900-some student certifications, it’s about gaining exposure to a variety of different dive conditions.

“Get loads of diving experience in as many different places and environments as possible,” he says. “Once you have a ton of experience and are a rounded diver, then become a PADI Pro, give something back, help others see the amazing things that you have, and share your passion.”

Simon Hotchkin

Passion = Success

PADI course director Anna Schmitz always thought she’d end up teaching or working in the medical field, but the second she tried diving that all went out the window.

“I put a regulator in my mouth — and everything changed! Buy hey! I am a teacher, and I love dive medicine!”

Through her diving career, she’s trained 1,464 professionals and owns Emerald Coast Scuba. In addition to their regular diving curriculum, her team focuses on their Wounded Warrior and SEAL team programs. For Schmitz, the most important thing to remember when building a successful career in diving is to enjoy it.

Anna Schmitz

“Teach what you love — and the joy (and money) will follow!”

Dieter Steinbrich, a PADI MSDT and operation manager for Dune Atlantis Bali, based in Sanur,  agrees.

“Follow your dream and learn as much as you can,” he says.

Dieter Steinbrich

Dream Big

Restunning Sandini is not only the IDC Manager of Two Fish Divers Indonesia, but she was also the first female Indonesian PADI course director.

“Everyone has their own issues, and as Indonesian or Eastern-cultured women, we are sometimes seen as selfish if we strive to reach our dreams. The truth is, every dream needs sacrificing,” she says. “To be honest, there were times that I thought I would not be able to reach it. But again, if your dreams are not giving you bruises, then they are not big enough, right?”

Restuning Sandini

Check out these 6 Secrets Behind Dive Center Hiring when looking for a career in scuba.

Going PADI – The Best Decision

Switching training organizations is rarely an easy decision, but when a business becomes a PADI® Dive Center or Resort, the results can be truly outstanding. Last year, more dive centers and resorts joined PADI than ever before.  A case in point is Dive West, in Dallas, Texas, USA, that chose to go PADI in December 2015 and has since become a thriving PADI Retail and Resort Association member. Dive West’s management was motivated to join PADI after experiencing a decline in satisfactory customer service from another dive training agency.


“Top-flight customer service is an essential element of the PADI Member experience,” says Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide. “Life in a PADI Dive Center is often hectic, so quick and efficient service is imperative to allow dive center staff to deliver the same to their customers. That’s why PADI Regional Headquarters puts so much emphasis on exceptional customer service for members.”

Dive West finds PADI customer service outstanding. “PADI staff are always Johnny-on-the-spot,” says Brandi Farch, Dive West Store Manager. “We never have a problem accessing PADI services or reaching the right person on the phone.”

After joining, Dive West took advantage of PADI’s business consultation services, which has been an important factor in the store’s success. Like many businesses, Dive West had struggled to find the right pricing for their services and had been stuck on the same course pricing for more than eight years. However, trusting in the power of the PADI brand and PADI’s innovative marketing programs, Dive West instituted what they felt was more realistic, value-based course pricing and has thrived as a PADI Member ever since. “In less than two years with PADI, we’ve already exceeded the number of diver certifications we completed in the previous three years with our prior training agency” says Farch. “Joining PADI was the best decision we ever made for our store.”

Not surprised, Richardson says, “The PADI System of diver education brings student divers through the doors of PADI Dive Centers every day around the world. PADI’s proven marketing strategies and innovative marketing tools, such as a free annual marketing tool kit, also bring in customers.”

“We love the marketing tool kit and look forward to it each year,” says Farch. “I’m excited to decorate the store with all the new banners, flags and other point-of-purchase items, and I put it all up as soon as the kit arrives.”

“We’ve also enjoyed an increase in both walk-in and drive-by traffic since we switched to PADI. I believe this is partly attributable to our PADI-designed window wrap,” Farch explains. “Previously, we had a simple marquee sign that said ‘Dive West’ on our storefront. Many people didn’t even realize we were a dive shop. However, the window wrap dramatically changed all that. Now we’ve got ‘LEARN TO DIVE’ in great big letters, the PADI logo and other attractive graphics on our windows. People know we’re a dive shop and they drop in to check us out.”

Farch also appreciates the name recognition PADI enjoys. “People recognize PADI; we no longer have to spend all day explaining the difference between the various dive training organizations to potential customers.”

Closely tied to this recognition is the increased availability of instructors. “One of the best things about switching to PADI has been the increase in the number of qualified dive professionals who can work for us,” says Farch. “We used to have a lot of trouble getting instructors; nobody wanted to pay the money to become an instructor for our former training organization because it simply wasn’t beneficial enough for them. Now, we not only have seven or eight PADI Instructors on staff, we are also growing our own divemasters. In fact, we’re nearly finished training our first class of four PADI Divemaster candidates.”

Be Best. Be PADITM. The Way the World Learns to Dive.