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A career as an Instructor?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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icarus pacific

Nov 7, 2001
Though I tend to inhabit the freediving threads, I'm fine with tanks, thanks :t

A question was posed to me the other day by a longtime diver friend... "How about I chuck the regular job thing and go get an Instructor's rating, and teach diving?"

I know my answer to the question, but thought I'd avail him of your experiences, so for the Instructor's out there, whaddya think? Is there any money in it? Is the sales aspect of it a detriment? How's the insurance hassle(s)? What should this guy know before he jumps??

Feel free to post it here, or PM me if you're shy or politically constrained.

He'll thank you later, I'll do it now. :king

Hi Sven ,
My first response is always : why do you want to teach ?
IMHO instructors seem to come in three categories : to whit ...
The good time guys/gals who see it as an opportunity to travel and frolic with nubile students of (insert sex of choice);)
Those who are passionate about being in the water and want to share that joy with others , helping them across the first hurdle ;
People who see it as a financial opportunity to set up something that can be rewarding to themselves as well as to others ,eg. employees/students .
As to your specific questions ;
Yes there is money to be made . Possibly not much as an instructor working for someone else , but if you possess sound business sense sure , why not ?
Sales are important , possibly one of the most important aspects of a successfull dive store is good retail . Courses are kept cheap to attract students , equipment sales is where your real income lies .
Insurance is mainly an American "thing" ; although it is becoming more important allover , gradually . Not really something I know about .

Hope this is of some use .:D
What about doing it for more then one reason? I LOVE the Yummy students and wonderful girls I meet that think I'm James Bond meets Ron Jeremy.

But I have so much Passion for the sport I really cant think Of doing anything else.

That being said I've never made a cent in the dive industry. But it pays for it self and is a helluva lifestyle.

Did I mention the women?

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Being an instructor is a great thing, it can be a very rewarding experience. I do it for the love of the sport, and for the fact that it gives me more opportunities to dive. I also get to meet a lot of people and help some of them to overcome their fears.
Unfortunately, there is no money in it. Living in California, as you well know, costs a person a fortune just to survive so I have to have a real job:head . The real job keeps me from marketing my dive business the way I'd like.
If a person was single, no kids, no real responsibilities, it would be a good living. I'd be in the Caribbean somewhere watching girls in thongs, livin' on the beach, life would be one big party until it was time to retire. Then I'd have to get in the soup line with the other bums.

Originally posted by Kayak Diver
... so I have to have a real job .

Thanks , Dale . I just LOVE it when people tell me I haven't had a "real" job for the past decade or so ... :hmm
What exactly is your definition of a real job ?
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Same thing they say about charter captains...people think it's all sunshine and seagulls and everyday brings a limit of fish...a job that you love is still a job if you take pride in your work and do it well. Just reading your responses leads me to believe you are this type of instructor...keep it up:cool:

My definition of a real job: a land based occupation which one hates. A real job is only aquired if one wants to put a roof over your head, food on the table, clothes on your back, and remain married to a woman.
All kidding aside, I know there are people whose real job is dive instructor, but there's not to many in my area. If you are making a living with your only job being a dive instructor, you are my hero!


Most of the Instructors that I know, (and there are a bunch) are dual employed types- they do the 9-5 to support the diving and the Instructor rating gives them the opportunity to dive more. Sound about right Dale?

I've relayed all this to my amigo with my own reflections on the deal and to my mind, he's got as good a shot at it as anybody. He's a damn good diver, has the ability to stand in front of people and get the point across without looking like too big an ass, and his monthlies are pretty much the roof and his kid support. Hell, that could be any of a hundred people I know... :head

I agree that he'd need to get hooked up with a shop and just pimp the gear, a definite bummer for me along with the insurance that the shop wouldn't cover. I recall before I gave it up that NAUI was putting together a hiring directory of shops and all- trying to do the brokering of it's Instructors... Anybody know of that or is PADI doing that too?

I guess this guy is going to have to sit on the question of what it is he wants to do with his days left, rather like the musical refrain of " How does a person, go to work in the mornin'; come home in the evenin' and have nuthin' to say...?" I can relate.

BTW Dale, if you're hooked up with the Reef in Rohnert Park, I apprenticed with Sal and his partner Al Giddings in the SF store. WAAAY back when. Good times.

Forgot to mention that there are also two types of dive shop :
The dive center in your local town/city which is where you will find most of the instructors have a second , "real job " ;) and the dive resorts scattered around the world on tropical islands ect . relying on tourism and fulltime instructors working a year or two before moving on to the next beautiful location ; sunbronzed babes ; lethal local beverages ect . :D
Guess which one I do ...
Hey , its tough , but SOMEONE's gotta do it .

BTW Sven , PADI has a jobsearch on their website , it's only accessible to PADI pros though .
Wow, you are an old timer!:D That must have been something else, diving with Al Giddings before he was famous. I have, at one time or another, been affiliated with all the shops in this area. I teach as an independant now, I have more control over what I do. When I worked for Pinnacles Dive Center, I just showed up and taught their students, but the pay was lousy and I had no say in anything. My dream would be to open my own dive shop.
Other costs involved in becoming an instructor: IDC course fee, 1,000-2,000 bucks, IE fee is over 400, insurance is 500-700 bucks a year depending on who you buy from and membership dues are around 150 a year, I pay 2 different dues.
Even with the costs and low pay, I would encourage anyone whose thinking about becoming an instructor to go for it. Teaching can be very rewarding, all it takes for me is seeing that student come out of the water with a big smile. Makes it all worth while.

Guess I'm a bit late on this one, but wanted to drop my 2c in the collection bucket. I've worked for two different training agencies, in the local shop, the caribbean dive resort, and on special training programs overseas. I would agree with a lot of what the other guys have said here. It really does depend on the lifestyle you're looking for.

Some options for making it in the dive industry include part time and full time instructing, but those are tough as a way of bringing in income. Owning a dive shop can be profitable if it's done right, but the majority of dive shops that start up are out of business within three years. Probably the best way to go as a full time instructor if your single is to have another skill and go the live-aboard route. Instructors are a dime a dozen. Instructors that are also mechanics, engineers, or captains are more rare. Those skills make you more valuable. On a live-aboard everything you make can go into your pocket. Your place to stay is paid for (if you don't also have a house or apartment) and your food is paid for. Stay long enough and acquire the sea time and get your captains license and move up to captain and your making good money.

If you're just looking for work as an instructor it's not as good. The burnout rate is high. You get tired of leading other people on dives and miss being able to go do your own thing. And the whole thing about all the gorgeous babes that will worship you as if you were king triton is a myth. Most women even on beautiful tropical islands don't pursue diving on their own. It's usually in the company of a boyfriend / husband. Of course that doesn't account for college campuses.

All in all, there are good and bad instructors for every agency. Unfortunately in my opinion the bad instructors out there outnumber the good ones. In all honesty there aren't too many people that wouldn't be able to become an instructor.

Don't get me wrong I love instructing. I'm a school teacher (although not right now) so helping people learn and the excitement of introducing them to the watery world is something I really enjoy. But in reality every job is a job to some degree. I would suggest that your friend pursue his instructor cert because of his desire to teach others to dive and see where it leads as opposed to a way to make money.

Sorry for the long winded essay Sven. Hope there is something in there that's useful.

Thanks, Abriapnea, I am an ancient 43 today! Don't feel a day over 42 and a half:eek: I'm an old timer, not as old as Sven, though

We're actually the same age, but some just wear it better. Happy bday.

The Pinnacles, huh? I bought my second paddleboard- a Mulder, from Joe Sr. in 1973. Now that's old! That thing survived a stuffing at Monestary, a 360 endo on 101 in Marina, a lightning hit at Carmel River and a fall from the top of Ocean Cove... sheesh. If the thing was tupperware like an Ocean Kayak, I'd probably still have the thing.

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