As much as I strive to remain unbiased (I am a Course Director, so there may be some thought that my answers promote me) I have to admit, I have worked with several Course Directors and have seen programs that meet the criteria required (there is a basic Standard), and others that exceed the basic and include additional value.
So, I have gathered some information from colleagues to give a more rounded answer to some of the frequently asked questions, while ensuring that the content is inclusive of my local environment.
I have first-hand knowledge and experience to support the information provided and hope it helps with your decision making.
Is there a job guarantee for students?
It is virtually impossible for anyone to guarantee a job as this depends on many factors. Providing a guarantee would be providing false expectations for students. It is preferable to be completely honest and transparent. The Course Director should work with instructors to make an interesting CV so they can get a job in the destination of their choice. This does not mean you will not find a job in the location you take your course. Eventually jobs open for new instructors and a preference may be made for instructors who were trained on site. Working with a Course Director or facility that has a positive working relationship with diving centers in the area may result in other centers hiring that Course Director’s instructors. Similarly, a Course Director that has working relationships with PADI centers worldwide can result in a recommendation and referral.
Is it possible to get a job after graduating as a PADI Instructor?
Clearly, this is possible locally or anywhere in the world. The Calgary area has four dive centers and instructors come and go. However, in the Calgary area, it is important to know our dive season is possibly four months of the year (May to September) with maybe an addition of a month on either end due to ice/snow/winter run-off (Mother Nature’s decision). This makes instructor positions as a full-time occupation unlikely. Instructors who are willing to travel or relocate (even temporarily) have a higher chance of getting employment in tourist sites, although a valid work permit is often necessary.
PADI’s website under Pros sign-on also lists job offers worldwide. You likely can find opportunities that offer the lifestyle you’re looking for. Jobs do exist – you have to decide if the opportunities meet your personal requirements.
I think it's a big investment. Will I earn it back?
Investing in your career as a PADI Instructor includes skills that are transferable to other areas of your life and career. It is a title that will accompany you throughout life. Business and education require an initial investment but, if you do things well, you will benefit over-all. The cost of becoming an instructor is very little compared to any other careers or businesses.
From a local perspective – given the short dive season and the number of courses and competition – your investment becomes a question of desire. What is motivating you to acquire this advancement? What is the local pay-scale versus cost to you to provide the instruction to your students - what costs are covered by the facility you will work with?
Your instructor certification will accompany you no matter where your next destination is. Chances are, you will not make a living in the local dive environment of Calgary, however, on a worldwide scale, although you will not become a millionaire as a diving instructor, you can have a decent income and enjoy a lifestyle that, for many, would only be possible in their dreams.
Does it matter where I take my training to get a job?
The reality is that the PADI Instructor Development courses must have the same content and follow the same standards no matter where they are taught. This means that, in theory, instructors leave with the same preparation no matter where they have taken their course. Fortunately, with the large number of alternatives on the market for the PADI IDC there are some better proposals than others. To make the best choice you must consider factors such as commitment and company reputation, Course Director dedication and availability, and additional programs included to complement your IDC. It is highly recommended that you schedule an interview with the Course Directors you are considering so you can ask and receive answers to all your questions, and make a well informed decision. The ease with which you can schedule this meeting may be the first evaluation criteria in your final decision.
What to expect from my Course Director during and after my IDC?
The Course Director is the person who will be responsible for guiding you through the process to become a PADI Instructor. You will learn about teaching and education systems with them. You will receive valuable advice to develop your career as a professional diver and you can get information about the diving industry, specific details of the geographic region and more.
There are diving center locations where the Course Director interacts only occasionally with their instructor candidates, leaving much in the hands of assistants. This can be due to workload, because the Course Director does not live in the area, or the position of Course Director is not their full-time occupation. There are assistants able to do a good job but constant interaction with the Course Director enriches the program.
There are Course Directors who personally lead all professional courses (Assistant Instructor to Open Water Instructor which equals the IDC) and will accompany you throughout the process until you successfully complete your training. The relationship with your Course Director should not finish at the end of your IDC. You should find that even years after you finish your course you can go to your Course Director for clarification or advice in your career as a PADI Professional.
Do I have the opportunity to take continuing education at the instructor level with my Course Director?
It is important that your Course Director help you continue your professional training beyond PADI Instructor level. This will help extend the range of courses you can offer and help you become more attractive to diving centers when you are looking for a job. Your students will also benefit by being able to take all their courses with you without searching elsewhere.
Locally, it is important to determine what courses are beneficial for you to teach on an on-going basis and those that provide for a well-rounded CV. Choosing a Course Director who can prepare you for worldwide opportunities may require you to research other destinations. Or, confirming your Course Director can work with you in other locations. Your Course Director should offer continuing education training in PADI Instructor specialties. However, also consider what additional training they offer to ensure you are best suited for employment opportunities elsewhere. For example: Sidemount, technical diving with PADI’s Tec Rec Diving, DAN Instructor courses, and cave diving training. There are a number of excellent IDC courses that ensure candidates benefit by receiving exclusive prices on any continuing education program taken with them and go beyond the basics of a standard IDC program.
Why is there a large difference in the prices of professional programs in different destinations and dive centers?
The answer to this question has to do with several factors. There are a variety of strategies in posting prices. You need to understand what is included and how it is being charged so you can compare properly. An example of this is that there are options that show prices not including materials or PADI applications fees. It’s just a way to display information to manipulate consumer perception. To do a proper analysis it is necessary to compare the same product. This is not always possible because not all packages available include the same things. The important thing here is that you understand what the program is offering you and compare the programs in their entirety so you can have a clearer idea of what you’re paying and the benefits you are getting. Furthermore, there is an added value to the services. Some options present information so that they boast offered goods or services “free”. In reality there is nothing free. There is no such thing as free housing or unlimited diving. This is all a pricing strategy and in reality the costs are included in the final price or, somehow, subsequently covered. There are proposals that may have lower operating costs allowing them to give a better price. In unfortunate cases, some dive centers sacrifice quality in order to “improve” a price regardless of student satisfaction.
Look for value of service over price – quality of training - and you will most likely end up more satisfied and in a win situation. .
I hope I have provided some food for thought, and please, contact me if you have any questions. I do travel to other destinations to complete IDC courses and I do have excellent colleagues that I am in regular contact with who I can refer you to and who are able to assist in your education,above and beyond.
Safe diving, and best wishes for your success in your future education.
Check out my Go Pro Site for information on my local IDC Courses as well as options for Go Pro in Mexico.
PADI Course Director