Six Secrets Behind Dive Center Hiring

Being an in-demand scuba instructor is about more than just passing your IDC and IE. You’ve got to have a friendly, winning attitude, sure – but also bring more to the table. We spoke with a handful of PADI Course Directors and IDC Staff Instructors, asking them to open up their playbooks when it comes to hiring. Here’s what they revealed:

6. Be able to teach at least a couple specialties.

“We like instructors who can teach specialties – and it doesn’t necessarily matter which ones. We are open to whatever they bring. As long as you can up-sell classes – that is, when a student comes in for one course, you have the potential to get two or three classes out of that opportunity.”

— Neil Evans, PADI Course Director with Rainbow Reef IDC in Key Largo, Florida

5. Have a relationship with the store where you want to get hired.

“Don’t just walk in off the street asking for a job. If you walk in off the street, I’m pretty suspicious of you. Instead, do the fun dives with the dive center and show your interest in getting hired, then do your IDC with that dive center.”

— Kevin Barry, PADI IDC Staff Instructor with Any Water Sports in San Jose, California

4. Know the dive sites of the location where you want to work.

“The PADI Divemaster course is where you get to learn the dive sites of a location. I always suggest that someone do their divemaster course and IDC at the same place. We are always going to hire people who know the local dive sites well before we hire someone who doesn’t.”

— Will Welbourn, PADI Course Director at Coconut Tree Divers in Roatan, Honduras

3. Knowing more than one language is a plus.

2. Be able to talk about gear – not just your own.

“It’s such a plus to be good about talking about gear and why it’s good to have certain types of gear. To boost your knowledge about what’s out there, go to different gear manufacturer websites and look at specs for different gear. Learn why you would use one type of gear over another. It’s important to sell not just the top-of-the-line gear, but the pieces that fit a customer’s specific needs.”

— Neil Evans, PADI Course Director with Rainbow Reef in Key Largo, Florida

1. Demonstrate helpfulness during your IDC.

“Quite frankly, it’s about attitude. Be the one at your IDC who is as helpful as possible, volunteering to carry tanks and set up equipment – that’s who you want working around you.”

— Will Welbourn, PADI Course Director at Coconut Tree Divers in Roatan, Honduras

If you are a dive professional looking for a new job, take a look at the Employment Board at the PADI Pros’ Site for open job opportunities around the world.

Article by Brooke Morton

Elite Instructor Sofie Oernstedt Found Her Personal Paradise – in Honduras

In this series, the 2015 Elite Instructor My PADI Challenge winners share the secrets to their success. Read on to see how PADI IDC Staff Instructor Sofie Oernstedt turned a trip to Utila, Honduras, into a lifetime pursuing a new passion – teaching diving!

  1. Describe your inspiration to become a diver.

I would say my true inspiration came from reading online about marine life and then wanting to experience a whole new world – their world.Sofie Oernstedt1

  1. Tell me about your decision to become a PADI Professional. What or who inspired you?

When I completed the PADI Open Water Diver course on a small island in the Caribbean called Utila (Honduras), there was no doubt in my mind, I was in love with diving! I went straight on to complete the Advanced Open Water course. The vibe on the island and the people I met there led me to feel as though I was in the right environment, so I decided to stay and continue my diving adventure. That was the beginning on my new life!

  1. How do you think you’ve changed personally and professionally as you’ve moved up the ranks from Open Water Diver to Elite Instructor?

I’ve grown as a person as I’ve learned from working with people of different nationalities. I’ve also learned a great deal about dive theory, fish behavior, the reef and the ocean environment and enjoy passing on my knowledge to the individuals I work with and teach.

  1. What do you consider your greatest achievement in your diving career?

My biggest achievement is working at my current job at PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center Underwater Vision in Utila, where I’ve had the opportunity to grow as a PADI professional by teaching everything from Discover Scuba Diving experiences through PADI Rescue Diver courses. I also teach various PADI specialty courses and serve as a mentor to PADI Divemasters.

  1. What is your next goal related to scuba diving?

My goal for 2016 is to become a PADI Master Instructor.

  1. Everyone has a certain style of teaching. When you’re teaching someone to dive, what do you put the most emphasis on?Sofie Oernstedt2

I emphasize the need to create good dive habits from the beginning. It is also very important that my students feel safe in the water and that they come out of a course a better diver and more knowledgeable than when they went in – and that they have fun too!

  1. Did you have to overcome any fears, challenges or obstacles to get where you are now with your diving career?

My biggest challenge was the first time I had to take off my mask, but thanks to my very passionate PADI Instructor, I did it!

  1. Tell me what you enjoy most about teaching people to dive.

Every single course gives me something different, but seeing student divers emerge from their first dive smiling about the world they have just discovered is absolutely amazing. I also love sharing my knowledge of marine life and my passion for the reef.

  1. Describe some of the encounters you have had along the way that inspire you to keep teaching.

I recently met two Danish girls who were thinking of taking PADI Open Water Diver course, but had some reservation due to the language barrier. I told them “in Danish” I would be their instructor. They decided to give it a try. At the end of the first day, one of the girls told me she wasn’t sure if she wanted to continue, but we sat down and talked it through and she decided to continue. Both of them completed the course. That same evening, they came to me give me a little homemade present and a big hug and thanked me for encouraging them complete with the course — because they ended up having the time of their lives!

That is what makes teaching worth doing and makes me love every minute of every day in the water.

  1. What does diving give you that nothing else does?

Diving gives me a peace nothing else does. No matter what time of day it is or how my day has been, diving always puts a smile on my face!

  1. How has diving changed your life?

It changed my life in so many ways. Before I came to Utila, I had an apartment and a job I enjoyed, and I was trying to figure out where to go to university. My plan was to travel to see the world and then come back start my “adult” life, but diving opened my eyes to a different way of life. It made me realize that there are so many options, including many away from “home”. I decided to stay on Utila and follow my dreams — and haven’t regretted once! The combination of diving and living on this island surrounded by amazing people puts a smile on my face every time I go to work. Seeing the world and doing what you love – what could be better than that?

  1. Do you believe that you change others’ lives through diving?

Yes, people travel here at different ages and for different reasons, yet they all seem to enjoy hearing my story about how I ended up as a dive instructor living on Utila. I think it makes them entertain possibilities they may never have thought about before.

  1. Describe in a few sentences how you would convince a non-diver about why they should learn to dive?

I ask them if they have ever been snorkeling before, if so, did they like it? Then I talk about the option of experiencing the reef and the marine life on a closer encounter, and explain the different options they’ll find in diving and discuss options for getting them into a course.

  1. Walk me though your most memorable dive experience.

On one dive in Mozambique off the east coat of Africa, we went down to about 20 M and suddenly there were 8 Manta Rays around us! They followed us the entire dive. Then, we got back to the boat and saw two Humpback whales!

  1. What does ‘My PADI’ mean to you?

My PADI offers me the means to track my personal goals for growth. It provides the tools that I need to conduct classes and to stay current.

Path to PADI Course Director

When considering the PADI Course Director rating, it’s helpful first to take a look at what it’s not: It’s not the ultimate, or even an appropriate, goal for every dive professional. Nor is it a short-term goal you decide to earn simply for personal betterment, edification or prestige.

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What it is is an essential qualification for those with the desire, the know-how and a plan to work in tandem with PADI Instructor Development Centers and Resorts and train PADI Instructors. It is a major commitment to the dive industry and, most importantly, to yourself.

To become a Course Director you must earn a spot in a Course Director Training Course through a competitive application process that examines your experience and training goals. Success demands preparation and advanced planning. Course Director applicants are expected to present a realistic business plan, developed in cooperation, and integrated, with a PADI Instructor Development Center or Resort. The plan outlines the specifics of marketing and implementing of new instructor training. PADI Master Instructors with solid teaching experience, a great continuing education ratio, and who have assisted with several IDCs may be ready to apply. Other requirements are EFR Instructor Trainer, at least 250 logged dives and demonstrated commitment to Project AWARE.

The current CDTC application lists all the details and resides, along with a host of support materials (including a comprehensive and informative online presentation) on the PADI Pros’ Site.

Applications approved, Course Director candidates start training by completing several presentations, knowledge reviews and a Course Director-level exam on PADI Systems, Standards and Procedures online. The CDTC itself lasts for nine days and includes presentations on organizing and promoting instructor development. Hands-on workshops, in classroom, confined water and open water, focus on evaluation training, professional development and counselling techniques. Candidates create and build professional, and personal, relationships that last lifetimes.

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Those PADI Course Directors who successfully complete the CDTC join an elite group of instructor trainers. Through their PADI Instructor Development Courses (IDCs) and other instructor-level training, they earn a place within the ranks of the scuba diving industry’s most influential leaders and role models. And while it’s still not for everyone, this is the most respected professional rating in recreational scuba diving.

Log on to the PADI Pros’ Site and read through CDTC Questions and Answers document, then check out the online presentation about what it takes to become a PADI Course Director and download the CDTC Fact Sheet.

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

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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.

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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.

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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…

Elite Instructor Linda Eckardt Gives Teens the Gift of Courage

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Guest Blogger: Jo Walters

The 2015 Elite Instructor My PADI Challenge winners share the secrets to their success in this monthly series. Read on to see how Open Water Scuba Instructor Linda Eckardt turned a vacation on a live-aboard into a lifetime helping young people realize their true potential.

  1. Describe your inspiration to become a diver.

I always loved water and grew up dreaming about diving with dolphins and turtles. It was an unexplored world to me, filled with adventure and mystery. From the day I learned it was possible to breathe underwater, I knew I would end up diving. Then, I had the opportunity to attend a marine biology high school – where diving was a part of the curriculum – I jumped at the chance!

  1. Tell me about your decision to become a PADI Professional. What or who inspired you?

I finished high school and took a very unexciting desk job. I hated the sedentary lifestyle. So, my first vacation was on a live-aboard dive boat in Egypt! I befriended the crew and it soon became obvious that this was the job for me! That’s when I decided that the next step in my career development was to become a PADI Professional.

  1. How do you think you’ve changed personally and professionally as you’ve moved up the ranks from PADI Divemaster to Elite Instructor?

During my first three years as a scuba professional, I advanced from PADI Divemaster to Open Water Scuba Instructor. I was so lucky to have incredible instructors as my mentors. I was amazed at how calm they always seemed – and a little surprised by the amount of responsibility they entrusted to me. Looking back, I understand that they shaped me into a good instructor by pushing me outside of my comfort zone – but always maintained a safe and controlled environment. Now, having gained years of experience, I have become more like them; I always feel relaxed with and in control of any situation. And, I now have the immense pleasure and responsibility of providing the same support to new, upcoming dive professionals.

  1. What do you consider your greatest achievement in your diving career?

My greatest achievement was to be hired by a company that uses scuba diving as a tool to truly change the lives of young individuals and teenagers by showing them that they are capable of accomplishing anything. Seeing a student come up from a training dive –  that they never thought they could complete – with a new realization of just how awesome they are, is by far the most rewarding thing I have done.

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  1. What is your next goal related to scuba diving?

I’m considering opening up a scuba store, where I can use my ability to train scuba professionals to help these young individuals – to give them a profession and a means to provide financial support for their families.

  1. Everyone has a certain style of teaching. When you’re teaching someone to dive, what do you put the most emphasis on?

Safety is always my main focus, but I try to teach it in a way that isn’t overwhelming or intimidating. Many student divers have told me that I teach with “tough love”, meaning that I can be tough in the beginning in order to create good habits, but then I focus on the fun. I try to never forget the reason we’re diving to begin with – to have fun!

  1. Did you have to overcome any fears, challenges or obstacles to get where you are now with your diving career?

I was one of those students with constant ear problems. Looking back, I recognize that part of the problem was psychological rather than physical. The more experienced I got, the fewer ear problems I had. However, they would always reoccur during dives that were outside of my comfort zone or experience level. Now, I consider this the most valuable knowledge I have when teaching students: I can tell them “I had ear problems, too!”

  1. Tell me what you enjoy most about teaching people to dive.

I enjoy my ability to give the gift of courage just by showing someone how to breathe from a regulator or take a mask off underwater. I can help them understand that not all obstacles are real, and that they can indeed accomplish anything with determination.

  1. Describe an encounter you have had along the way that inspires you to keep teaching.

Last summer, a colleague asked me to take on a teenage student diver who was falling behind her class. The mask skill was her nemesis – and at first the teen tried to trick me into believing that she had already done it successfully. I didn’t fall for that. Instead, I took her on a couple of dives just focusing on having fun and showing her the underwater world. Finally, she finally agreed to attempt the mask skill again. She did it amazingly well! She came up and smiled, but said “I hated that!” I responded “I know, but had you looked uncomfortable I would have made you do it again, but you didn’t, so well done!” She successfully completed her certification, and then wrote me a thank you card for not giving up on her, mentioning that people usually did. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had as an instructor, and it makes me want to do it again!

  1. What does diving give you that nothing else does?

Diving gives me a forum for silence and relaxation – where I can enjoy the now, and save any troubling thoughts of the past and future for later. Linda_1

  1. How has diving changed your life?

Diving has given me a chance to work in far-flung corners of the world. It’s given me the opportunity to meet the most incredible, inspiring people – who have encouraged me in my mission to continue exploring life.

  1. Do you believe that you change others’ lives through diving?

I do. I really think that as a scuba instructor I provide the tools for personal growth. While I don’t change everyone’s life, I know I do for some.

  1. Describe in a few sentences how you would convince a non-diver about why they should learn to dive?

Diving is all about exploring the underwater world on your own terms. It is about letting fun and curiosity become more powerful than the fear.

  1. Walk me though your most memorable dive experience.

My most memorable dive experience was my 100th dive in Menorca, Spain. I was working as a Divemaster and I only had one customer that day, so I decided to take a dive that was a little more advanced than usual. As if to greet and congratulate me on my 100th dive, a school of 100 barracudas circled above the sand, and moray eels and squid decided to come out from their hiding places to say hello. Even my favorite nudibranch, Flabelina, showed up for the party. It was 60 minutes of pure joy!

  1. What does ‘the My PADI Elite Instructor Award’ mean to you?

The My PADI Elite Instructor Award gives me the means to measure my progress and development throughout my career as a scuba instructor. I think it’s a great initiative and I am grateful for being recognized for the work I have done as a PADI Professional.

Teaching Teenagers is Fun for Elite Instructor Hannah Tannenbaum

Guest Blogger: Jo Walters

In this monthly interview series, the 2015 Elite Instructor My PADI Challenge winners share their stories and the secrets to their success. Read on to see how Open Water Scuba Instructor Hannah Tannenbaum travels the world taking teenagers on liveaboard dive adventures for Broadreach College – and how she discovered one of the Caribbean’s most pristine dive sites alongside a rock in the middle of an eight hour sail!

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Describe your inspiration to become a diver.

When I was 10 years old, I was on a vacation with my parents in Playa del Carmen when I saw a scuba demonstration in the pool. I tried it and discovered it was the coolest thing ever! I went on to become a PADI Jr. Open Water Diver at age 11.

Tell us about your decision to become a PADI Professional. What or who inspired you?

When I was 17, I had the opportunity to go to Egypt and complete the PADI Rescue Diver course in the Red Sea. This course taught me a valuable lesson about diving: that you can never stop learning and improving your skills. I also realized that becoming a PADI Professional could open my world to new places and to the most interesting and diverse group of people who share a common passion and speak a common language: the love of diving.

How do you think you’ve changed personally and professionally as you’ve moved up the ranks from Open Water to Elite Instructor?

As I have moved up to the ranks to become a PADI Elite Instructor, I gained confidence in my teaching ability and a greater sense of responsibility to my students. They inspire me to continue to refine my diving skills and work on being an effective Instructor – because every opportunity I have to teach a new diver is also an opportunity for me to become a better instructor.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your diving career?

I am always inspired when see my student divers performing their skills underwater and recognize their beaming smiles beneath their regulators. But my greatest moments of achievement come when I get to guide others through meaningful life experiences. For example, I recently took a dozen students on a night dive in St. Vincent. I could see how much it meant to them to be doing this night dive – playing in the bioluminescence and getting excited about seeing the stars above us when we surfaced.

What is your next goal related to scuba diving?

I want to continue teaching young people: exposing them to a whole new world and inspiring them to take responsibility for the preservation of the ocean environment. I have only certified one Divemaster, so teaching more Divemasters would be a fun new challenge. I would also like to try tech diving – it would be an exciting and entirely new type of diving for me.

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Everyone has a certain style of teaching. When you’re teaching someone to dive, what do you put the most emphasis on?

I place a high value on my students feeling safe, comfortable and confident underwater, so I emphasize building a rapport with my student divers and getting to know them so that they feel comfortable with me. Since I work for Broadreach, I mostly teach teenagers, so I concentrate on creating a safe environment, both physically and emotionally, where my students can tell me – or even better, I can see – if they start getting stressed out.

Did you have to overcome any fears, challenges or obstacles to get where you are now with your diving career?

Of course! My biggest challenge was my own confidence. However, the more courses and students I have taught, the more confidence I’ve gained, and the better instructor I’ve become. Also, I used to be terrified taking students on their first night dives. Now I am a Night Diver Specialty Instructor and I am so excited to show new student divers how awesome night diving can be!

Tell us what you enjoy most about teaching people to dive.

More than anything, I enjoy sharing my passion for the ocean and marine life. I also enjoy having the ability to expose people to something that can change their lives and take them all over the world.

Describe some of the encounters you have had along the way that inspire you to keep teaching.

Of course, not every student will have his life changed by learning to scuba dive, but the students who do inspire me. Sometimes I hear from former students that they have been on an exciting dive vacation, signed up for the next course or even completed the IDC (Instructor Development Course!) Knowing that I made an impact on their lives in such a positive and meaningful way inspires me to keep teaching.

What does diving give you that nothing else does?

Diving gives me peace. It is the ultimate escape for me, allowing me to relax, focus on my breath and enjoy the quiet. It is beautiful and engaging, but also humbling; whether I focus on the big picture or the minutiae like juvenile smooth trunkfish, it reminds me that I am a small part of this giant and beautiful world. 

How has diving changed your life?

How hasn’t it changed my life?! I cannot imagine where I would be if I had never started diving, or if I had never found Broadreach. Diving has taken me all over the world, from Grenada to Indonesia, from St. Martin to Fiji…and who knows where diving may take me next? Through diving, I have made friends all over the world. Also, being a PADI Pro shaped my desire to reach additional professional goals, including studying environmental conservation in college and working as a program coordinator to organize marine science and professional diving programs through Broadreach.


Describe in a few sentences how you would convince a non-diver about why they should learn to dive?

Learning to dive is an opportunity to experience a world totally foreign to your own and explore ecosystems very few people ever get to experience. It reminds you that you are a small part of the much larger world. You can escape the stress and pressures of normal life and experience the pleasant pressure of the water all around you.

Walk me though your most memorable dive experience.HannahT-EliteInstructor-jacket2

I’ve led the Broadreach Grenadines Advanced Scuba Voyage for the past two years. This is a 21 day live aboard program for 12 student divers at time. One of the coolest dives sites is Petit Canuaon – just a rock in the middle of an eight hour sail – where we can pop in for an awesome drift dive. I did this dive two years ago for the first time. As we descended, I was amazed to find giant beds of Elkhorn Coral, the likes of which I have never seen elsewhere in the world — not in Bali, Fiji nor anywhere! It was absolutely breathtaking, and I felt extremely fortunate to get to dive a site where so few people ever dive, on one of the most pristine reefs in the Caribbean.

What does ‘My PADI’ mean to you?

My PADI means that wherever I go in the world, whenever I am teaching the course, I have the knowledge and support of the largest and most reputable dive organization in the world behind me. My PADI means I have the ability to challenge myself and my students to become the best divers that we can be.