Tired of living the 9 to 5 life and want to escape the rat race? Becoming a scuba diving professional will mean swapping traffic jams and packed trains for commuting to work on beautiful blue seas aboard a boat, swapping all day in an office to working at a dive centre, located right on the beach.
Becoming a scuba diving professional will mean swapping the same monotonous daily routine for the excitement of wondering what will you see underwater today.
Get Certified! – Open Water Diver
The first step to becoming a PADI Professional is to get certified and become an Open Water diver. This is your first opportunity to experience what it is like to breath underwater for the first time. You will spend a little time in the classroom learning basic scuba diving theory.
You are not expected to be an expert on all things scuba but to have a grasp of the physics and physiological effects of being underwater. There is a final exam, but don’t stress, it’s a 50 question multiple choice exam based on the previous 10 question multiple choice quizzes you would have already completed.
Your next step is to get wet! Your confined water dives are best taken in a swimming pool as you experience your first breaths and create your first bubbles underwater. You will become familiar with the scuba equipmentand learn to master 40 basic scuba skills that will prepare you for your open water dives.
Before heading out to the ocean we will also ask you to complete the watermanship tests that consist of a 200m swim and a 10 minute float.
Next up is the best part – 4 open water dives in the ocean and with each dive you will feel a massive boost in confidence and excitement. Dive 1 will help you become comfortable swimming underwater and you will also develop a better understanding of how buoyancy works.
The first 3 dives will see you complete various skills during each dive. These skills include using a compass to navigate underwater, removing and replacing your mask and deploying a surface marker buoy at the end of your dive.
There is also plenty of focus on problem solving, in case in the unlikely event of you having a problem underwater. Dive 4 is focused on dive planning, where you and your buddy will plan and execute a dive. This is specifically a tour around the dive site, hopefully seeing as much marine life as possible.
With Dive 4 complete you are now a PADI Open water diver, certified to dive anywhere in the world, to a maximum depth of 18 metres. You have also taken your first step on the ladder to becoming a PADI Professional.
Adventure Time – Advanced Open Water
After completing your open water it is a good idea to take your Advanced course immediately afterwards. Not only does this course begin the process of fine-tuning your buoyancy and general diving skills but it also opens up a much wider range of dive sites for you to explore.
The aim of the advanced course is to introduce different types of adventure dives such as wreck diving, deep diving and night diving. The are 5 adventure dives to complete, 2 of which are mandatory; the Deep dive where you experience diving at depths down to 30m and the Underwater Navigation dive where we teach some underwater navigation techniques that make it easier for you find your way around a dive site.
You can then choose 3 more adventure dives, some of which may depend on the diving environment that you are taking the course in. Here on Koh Tao the most popular adventure dives include Wreck diving, night diving and peak performance buoyancy.
The course runs over just 2 days as the focus is more on in water training than theory and does not require any confined water practice sessions prior to starting the dives.
Dive, Dive, Dive
After completing your PADI Advanced Open Water course now would be a good time to get some dives under your belt and enjoy your new hobby. In just a few dives your diving skills will improve significantly as you become more confident with better buoyancy and improved air consumption.
Better buoyancy means better air consumption that in turn means longer dives. At this stage of your diving life the learning curve is steep and you really feel you have accomplished something after every single dive. If you’re interested in photography and would like to take pictures underwater then buoyancy is a skill you’ll definitely need to master. This will enable you to easily hover motionless whilst happily snapping pictures of your favourite marine life.
Good buoyancy will enable you to get up close to your subject. As with everything, more practice will improve your performance. So spend time during your dives really focusing on your buoyancy, improve your deep slow breathing and you might find yourself able to drop some weights for subsequent dives.
Taking Responsibility – Rescue Diver
Probably the most demanding course within the PADI system, the PADI Rescue course is also one of the most rewarding and is seriously, lots of fun! The rescue course will help you to shift your focus from thinking about just yourself (and your buddy) to focusing on others more generally.
You will learn how to recognize and react to any potential problems. Before taking the course it is necessary to hold a recognised first aid & CPR certificate valid within the past 24 months. At Crystal we offer the Emergency First Responder course prior to beginning the rescue course that meets this criteria.
The Rescue course begins with theory sessions. Your PADI Instructor will introduce you to emergency action plans, rescue techniques and accident management.
You will start your in water training in shallow water – usually the swimming pool – where we will review some self help rescue techniques and then start slowly to introduce more complex skills and scenarios as and when you master the basics.
As you progress through the Rescue course the intensity will increase, as will your stress levels as we make the scenarios more realistic. This is to ensure you can deal with a real life scenario if it was to occur.
To successfully complete the PADI Rescue course you will need to successfully complete the final Rescue scenarios that are conducted at one of Koh Tao’s popular dive sites. Here you will have to recover an “unconscious” diver from underwater and exit them from the water while providing in-water rescue breaths.
You will feel tired during the course and as mentioned, a little stressed but by the end you will feel proud at what you have achieved and confident in your new scuba diving skills. As with all PADI courses the PADI Rescue diver course is performance based and there is no time limit to the number of times it takes to master any specific skill.
The Diving Bug
By becoming a rescue diver you have demonstrated your commitment to the sport of scuba diving and shown you truly have been ‘bitten’ by the diving bug. Your next step is the big one. It’s time to ‘Go Pro‘ and become a PADI Divemaster.
Before enrolling on the course you will need to have logged at least 40 dives so maybe now is a good time to get out there and log some more dives before taking your next challenge.
Changing Your “Lifestyle”
There are several different ways to navigate your way through the PADI system on your way to becoming a PADI Divemaster. Some choose to take it slow, gaining certifications and logging dives in different areas of the world, over a longer period of time, often whenever on holiday.
Or you can sign up for a “lifestyle” or “Divemaster Internship” program, which are full time scuba diving Internships and include everything you need to achieve your goal of becoming a PADI Pro, and more.
Author: Marie Killinger (PADI MSDT #389090)
Marie is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. She completed a ‘Diving Lifestyle’ Divemaster Internship program at Crystal Dive before working as a Divemaster. Several months later she completed her IDC before enrolling on the MSDT Prep & Internship program.