Becoming a PADI Professional
We had a plan...
I had been lucky enough to get a job in Hong Kong toward the end of my career in international logistics and the plan was to work in there for about ten years and to retire to our little one bedroom condo in Maui, and teach scuba diving. That would have put me close to 58 years old, old enough to semi-retire and young enough to still have the strength and stamina to do the job. I had completed my Divemaster training with the folks at Maui Dreams Dive Co. on a holiday trip to Maui in 2014, so I felt like I was on track for the move in about 2020.
Then life intervened...
In early 2016, the company I was working for was purchased and the new owners wanted their own senior management team. So I was put on six months of “garden leave” in March of that year. Garden leave is a time period where you are still paid by the company but are prohibited from taking a new job. As luck would have it, in February of that year I sold our family home in Seattle to my son and his new wife. So the only place we had to go was our little place in Maui.
Careful what you wish for!
During my garden leave, my wife and I spent some time at our place in Maui, and of course diving with our friends at Maui Dreams. During one of our dive trips on the Maui Diamond II, Capitan Don asked me when I was going to move to Maui and start working for the shop. I told him not to say that unless he was serious. He told me not to commit unless I was serious. A few months later, my wife and I had moved to Maui and I started working for Maui Dreams. That’s how my professional diving career began.
So what’s this IDC thing?
Divemaster is the first stop for all diving professionals in the PADI system. As a Divemaster on Maui, your job is to take certified divers on guided dives. This is a great introduction to the world of professional diving. Divers in Maui are usually on holiday and are very excited to experience our underwater world. However, if you want to actually teach people to dive, you need to take the next step to instructor. In order to become a dive instructor, you must go through the Instructor Development Course or IDC. The IDC takes about ten days to complete and then is followed by a day and a half Instructor Exam or IE. I went through the IDC at Maui Dreams with five other candidates who would ultimately become great friends. It was challenging, but doable, with the support of my fellow instructor candidates. So in February of 2017 I became an Open Water Scuba Instructor and my life truly changed forever.
Once you become an instructor, you are qualified to teach people to dive as well as to take uncertified divers on Discover Scuba Dives or DSDs. Whenever I am teaching an open water certification course, I remember how that course changed my life. My wife and I took our open water certification courses at the age of 40, simply looking for something to do together as a couple. But once we completed the course, almost every vacation from then on was based around diving. Of course, as soon as we could, we got our two children certified as well, to make it a family affair. Now when I issue a new open water certification to one of my students, I always think about how it will affect their lives and where it will take them.
While getting people certified is very rewarding, I also love to teach Discover Scuba Diving (DSDs). These classes are for people who just want to give diving a try. Most of the time, these folks have some anxiety about breathing underwater for the first time, which is perfectly reasonable. It’s an amazing feeling to take someone who is very nervous at the beginning of the class, who might take several attempts to stay underwater, and get them to the point where they are blown away by the wonder of the underwater world. I always remind them how special it is to face their fear and overcome it. As adults in today’s day and age, this is very rare and meaningful.
A great career for the young and the “experienced”….
I became a working Divemaster at 53 and an instructor at 54, and it’s been a great second career for me. However, I do work with many younger folks who are making this their first career. One of the great things about being a PADI professional is that your credentials are recognized globally. This means you can work anywhere in the world there is diving and you can qualify for a work visa. Several of my colleagues choose a more nomadic lifestyle and use their skills as they travel.
So if you are looking for the next adventure in your life, and like working with people and transforming their lives, then becoming a dive professional might just be for you. If you would like more information give the shop a call at 808.874.5332.