How long should I be a Divemaster before moving up to Instructing?

By: Nina Horne, PADI Master Instructor

Embarking on a professional diving career is an exciting journey, and completing your Divemaster training is a significant milestone in your professional career that opens up a new realm of opportunities. The next step is the Instructor Development Course (IDC), which certifies you to train divers from Discover Scuba Diving all the way up to Divemaster. 

A common dilemma many face is whether to dive straight into (pun intended) the IDC after their Divemaster training or gain some experience working as a Divemaster first. 

Here, we explore the pros and cons of each path to help you decide the best timing for your IDC.

PADI Divemaster Candidate Receiving Certification

Don’t Hold Back – get stuck into your IDC!

1. Momentum and Fresh Knowledge:
One of the strongest arguments for moving directly from Divemaster to IDC is the momentum you carry forward. The skills and knowledge acquired during your Divemaster training are fresh, potentially making the IDC curriculum easier to absorb and master. This continuity can be particularly beneficial in mastering complex concepts and maintaining your dive conditioning.

    PADI Divemaster candidates celebrate certification

    2. Career Advancement:
    For those looking to quickly climb the professional ladder within dive organizations or to secure more lucrative positions, obtaining your instructor certification sooner can open doors. Instructors often have more job opportunities, both locally and globally, and can command higher salaries compared to Divemasters.

    3. Enthusiasm and Passion:
    Riding the wave of enthusiasm and passion right after your Divemaster training can be a huge motivational boost. If you’re excited about teaching and eager to share your love for diving with new students, carrying that energy directly into your IDC can be very rewarding.


    Working as a Divemaster – Gaining Experience First … 

    1. Developing Real-World Skills:
    Working as a Divemaster allows you to apply what you’ve learned in a practical setting, dealing with real divers and real situations. This experience is invaluable and can’t be fully simulated in a classroom. You’ll learn to manage different personalities, cope with unexpected scenarios, and refine your problem-solving skills, all of which are crucial for a dive instructor.

    2. Building Confidence and Credibility:
    Spending time as a Divemaster helps build your confidence and credibility, which are essential when you eventually teach students of your own. Gaining respect and trust from dive clients and peers alike can make stepping into an instructor role smoother and more effective.


    3. Networking and Opportunities:
    Working in different dive centers or locations as a Divemaster expands your professional network and opens up unforeseen opportunities. These connections can be beneficial when you seek employment as a dive instructor or even later in your career.

    4. Financial Stability:
    Diving straight into an IDC involves costs — course fees, materials, examination fees, etc. Working as a Divemaster first can allow you to save up financially and prepare for these expenses without the added pressure.

    Making the Right Choice

    The decision to go straight into your IDC or gain experience working as a Divemaster first largely depends on personal circumstances and career goals. If you are in a rush to advance your career or feel confident and prepared, heading straight into IDC might be the right choice. On the other hand, if you value depth of experience, want to build more confidence, or need to manage finances better, taking some time to work as a Divemaster could be more advantageous.

    Both pathways offer significant benefits and potential challenges. Consider your current skill level, financial situation, career aspirations, and personal style of learning and working. Whatever you choose, each step you take as a Divemaster or an Instructor will enrich your professional journey and deepen your love for diving. Remember, the ocean isn’t going anywhere — taking the time to ensure you’re fully prepared for the responsibilities of a dive instructor can lead to a more rewarding career overall.

    The Role of MSDT in Your Instructor Success

    Regardless of whether you jump straight into your IDC or spend some time working as a Divemaster, pursuing your Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT) certification after becoming an instructor can significantly enhance your teaching repertoire and marketability. The MSDT program allows you to teach specialty diver courses, which not only makes you more versatile as an instructor but also more attractive to potential employers. Our unique MSDT program not only gives the tools to teach specialties, but also involves unlimited team teaches with our experienced instructor team – helping you to develop your own teaching style and insider tricks to the trade. Learning from the best – to be the best! 

    © Crystal Dive Koh Tao