How do I become a PADI Divemaster?
Am I ready for the Divemaster Course? What's it all about?
Divemaster is undoubtedly the greatest sounding title in diving, I mean, any non-divers will think you’re basically the scuba equivalent of Luke Skywalker. But before you get to skip around the dive centre pretending to be an Aqua Jedi Master, you must complete one of the best experiences any scuba addict could ask for: the PADI Divemaster Course.
The Divemaster course is the first professional certification in the PADI System, and once you’ve passed you’ll be able to work in diving as a guide or an instructors assistant. So you can't just jump right in (forgive the pun), you need to have some dive experience before you start your professional training.
What do I need?
In a nutshell, you have to be a Rescue Diver with 40 logged dives before you begin, for the full prerequisites check out the breakdown here, but you can commit to the end goal of becoming a Divemaster whenever you want. Depending where you take the course will alter the format, but generally speaking you have two options: The part time route where you complete the course on weekends whilst you work during the week, or full time, where you’ll probably pick somewhere appropriately exotic and join an extended training programme.
Most budding Divemasters who choose the full time route undertake some sort of training course combination like ‘Advanced, Rescue & Divemaster’, so if you have any missing requirements such as number of dives or certification level, they should be easily attainable on the same trip. This means in reality, if you’re at least 18 years of age and medically fit to dive, you can start your journey to becoming a Divemaster straight away, no matter what your dive experience, maybe you’ll even be one of the legendary ‘Zero to Heros’ who arrive with 0 dives and leave a few months later as a bonafide professional.
But is it a Course or an Internship?
You’ll often hear Divemaster Course and Divemaster Internship used interchangeably, because technically it’s both. You’ll learn skills and knowledge like a course and gain practical experience like an internship, which is why it’s fundamentally different to all the diving courses you’ve taken before, in duration, goals and philosophy. Some of the skills and knowledge you learn will be a straightforward yes or no, like: ‘Yes, the partial pressure of oxygen at the surface is .21’, or ‘No, you can’t be dancing on the bar at 3am before the morning dive’.
But so many of the decisions you'll make as a professional aren’t right or wrong, they just affect the experience for your guests, whether it be the way you brief, your site selection or how you deal with problems in the water. These situations are where the internship part really kicks in, because you’ll have (or should have) an interactive, mentor/mentee relationship with your instructors, where you learn from their experience to think about what decisions you can or should make and the consequences of these. Your instructors can’t train you for every eventuality in diving, but they should prepare you well enough to make the best decisions when you need to.
Ok I know the requirements to begin, but am I really ready?
In a word, Yes. For some recreational divers, envisaging themselves as a Divemaster seems a big step up from their current level. Maybe the word ‘Divemaster’ pushes them to believe things like “I need more logged dives to build up my experience before I start”, we hear the same words from Open Water divers when talking about Advanced. More experience is a great thing, but the nature of the experience is what's important.
Let's say there are two divers who each have 100 dives: Diver A is a Rescue diver who decided to build up fun dives and is now thinking about starting their DM course, and Diver B is a certified Divemaster who started their DM with 40 dives. Diver B has completed a 6 week training course under the guidance and tutelage of an instructor, who was actively developing their knowledge and skills to a professional level, whilst Diver A has been clocking up some great bottom time, but hasn’t really focused on improving, and maybe even picked up some bad habits along the way. What's been a better use of time?
Ok sure, I totally understand that diver abilities vary hugely depending on the individual and the instruction they've received, and not always inline with certification level or logged dives. But my point is, while dives of any kind will be beneficial, there's a reason training courses exist in all industries, to make you better than you can make yourself, after all, Barcelona didn't tell a 13 year old Lionel Messi to come back later after getting some more experience. What IS very important is that you choose the right Dive Centre and course structure to develop your abilities. At Reef Gliders we want you to learn as much from your internship as possible, which is why we recommend 6 weeks but are happy if you stay for longer. Our candidates average between 60-100 dives during their time here, well above the minimum required. Even though the course is flexible, we like to apply our structure to make your experience much more effective.
The first two weeks we focus on your Knowledge Development, Practical Skills and Divemaster Workshops to develop your core understanding. In weeks three and four, you’ll apply this information by assisting instructors teaching real students on recreational courses, and the last weeks you’ll mainly focus on developing your skills as a dive guide for certified fun-divers. There will always be moments we need to adapt to the unexpected, so of course we adjust as necessary, but this overall path will progress your skills in a really constructive way.
By the end of your training you should feel confident in your ability to guide certified divers on fun dives and understand your role and duties as an instructors assistant, For sure you’ll have a few nerves the first time you deliver a briefing after your training, and you’ll probably be overly checking your compass whilst praying for the boat to appear, but you’ll have the fundamental skills and ability to deliver a safe and great experience for your divers. Many of our Divemaster graduates enjoy it so much, they decide to start their instructor course straight away and to make it a full-time career.
Whether you want to pursue a career in the dive industry or not, the Divemaster Course is undeniably an incredible experience for any diver wanting to boost their skills and make some lifelong memories. Contact us today to find out more about how you can join us.