How to Become a Scuba Instructor

If you love sharing your passion for the underwater world and want to live an extraordinary life, why not become a scuba instructor? It’s one of the most rewarding full-time or part-time jobs you can have.

Quite honestly, I’m a bit upset ‘scuba instructor’ does not commonly appear on the list of things you can be when you grow up. With all due respect to doctors, lawyers and firefighters, scuba instructors transform lives and play a vital role in environmental conservation.
Read on to learn how you can have a meaningful career, travel the world and make the most of your time on this ocean planet – as a PADI ® Scuba Instructor.

Steps to Become a PADI Instructor

The PADI IDC (Instructor Development Course) is the most recognized scuba diving instructor course in the world. The majority of the world’s most successful dive instructors gained the knowledge, skills and confidence required to start teaching scuba during their PADI dive instructor course. In post-course surveys, 95% of student divers say they would highly recommend their PADI Instructor.

Step One: Meet the IDC Prerequisites

The first step to becoming a scuba instructor is enrolling in an IDC. To start your dive instructor training you must be at least 18 years old and meet the following requirements:

  • Be a certified diver for at least six months
  • Hold a PADI Divemaster certification (or qualifying certification)
  • Have at least 60 logged dives
  • Hold a current CPR and First Aid certification*
  • Have an in-date medical approval to scuba dive

* IDC candidates must have a current (within the last 24 months) Emergency First Response (EFR®) certification or hold a qualifying certification. EFR Instructor certification is required before you can start teaching.

How many dives do you need to become an instructor?

You only need 60 logged dives to enroll in a PADI IDC; 100 logged dives are required to receive your Instructor credential.

Step Two: Complete the IDC

The PADI IDC has two components: Assistant Instructor (AI) and Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI). You can complete them separately or all in one go.

As the name implies, the focus of the Instructor Development Course is learning how to teach, not perfecting your skills. By the time you start the IDC, you should already have excellent diving skills and professional-level knowledge of diving equipment, physics and physiology. In the IDC, you’ll learn how to share your knowledge and experience with others.

During the IDC you’ll learn:

  • How to give classroom presentations
  • How to work with students in confined water (a pool or pool-like environment) and open water
  • PADI’s 4E’s philosophy
  • How to market yourself as an Instructor

By the end of your PADI IDC, you’ll have the knowledge, skills and confidence to train scuba divers through all of PADI’s core recreational level courses as well as several specialties.

Here’s something most people don’t realize about becoming a scuba instructor: the things you learn in the IDC are helpful in other areas of life. In the PADI IDC, you’ll learn how to explain complex ideas, give constructive criticism in a positive manner and improve your confidence in public speaking.

How hard is it to become a dive instructor?

Different parts of the IDC will be easy for some and challenging for others. For example, the classroom presentations were easy for me. I’m comfortable speaking in front of people and PADI’s Guide to Teaching outlines everything you need to say. But others in my class were nervous and had a hard time at first. Meanwhile, I stressed out about the rescue exercise while other candidates (with long arms, I might add) completed it effortlessly every time.

It should also be noted that I started my IDC less than a year after I became a Divemaster. My skills were pretty sharp and I had only forgotten about half of my dive theory (oops!).

Other IDC students hadn’t been active Divemasters for years. For them, the learning curve was a little steeper. The good news is: PADI is known for its high-quality instructional curriculum designed to accommodate students at various levels with different learning styles. It’s one of the main reasons the majority of dive instructors are PADI Instructors. Furthermore, PADI’s Instructor Trainers (known as Course Directors) are some of the dive industry’s most experienced and elite instructors.

Everyone is different and some parts of the IDC will be easy for some and challenging for others.

  • By choosing PADI, you set yourself up for success.
  • If it’s been more than a year or two since you became a Divemaster or assisted with classes, tell your Course Director. They might offer an IDC prep course or recommend ways to prepare for the IDC.

a group of new PADI Instructors smiling on a beach

Step Three: Pass the Instructor Exam

After successfully completing the IDC, you’ll be eligible to take the PADI Instructor Exam (IE). Instructor Exams are conducted by PADI Examiners, friendly, experienced Course Directors who work for PADI. Examiners follow standardized criteria to ensure instructor candidates have the knowledge and skills to become safe, effective scuba instructors. These independent evaluators ensure the evaluation process is objective, fair and consistent worldwide.

Once you’re a PADI Instructor, you can apply for jobs on PADI’s international Job Board and enjoy other benefits of PADI Membership.

How long does it take to become a dive Instructor?

If you meet all prerequisites, you can complete the PADI IDC in as little as 10-14 days. Not every IDC Center offers a consecutive day program, so be sure to inquire.

Prefer to take your time? Many IDC Centers scheduled scuba instructor training over the course of several weekends.

Step Four: Find Work (or not!)

PADI dive instructors are in demand – not just for teaching scuba classes. Check out the PADI Job Board to see the many scuba instructor jobs available around the world, or read this list of nine scuba diving jobs you may not have considered.

It’s also totally fine to become a scuba instructor just so you can teach friends or family members to dive. You don’t have to quit your job and travel the world; but once you’re a scuba instructor, that option is always available.

Related Reading

Scuba Instructor : How to Become a Dive Instructor

Scuba Instructor: How to become a Dive Instructor

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There are a lot of reasons to want to get your PADI instructor certification. You could be passionate about the sport itself, eager to educate the next generation of underwater recreators, or simply just can’t tolerate working in an office. If you’re contemplating a career as a dive instructor, you should know that you’re signing up for more than just a job–you’re choosing a lifestyle.

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Working in the recreational scuba industry is similar to many other outdoor professional careers. You get to spend your days outside, promoting and advancing the sport that you love. You also have a good way to find work in remote destinations and facilitate a travel-based lifestyle.

Scuba diving students and instructor having learn underwater.

The work itself is demanding, but rewarding. You’ll be forced to grow as a leader and constantly be challenged by unique environmental and interpersonal problems. But with patience, teaching people to scuba dive and seeing your students’ faces light up when they get their first glimpses of that alien aquatic world makes it all worth it. The tips don’t hurt either.

The Perks

As a scuba instructor, you’ll spend more time in the water in a year than most people will in their lifetimes. But the benefits of the job extend far beyond bottom time. Effectively, you’ll be joining a global league of professionals with more experiences and resources than you’ll ever be able to make use of. Here are adjust a few of the perks:

  • There’s work anywhere there is diving, and the places where there’s a lot of diving are usually pretty fantastic. Outdoor careers, and diving in particular, make it easy to travel and find a job.
  • As long as you’re teaching up to standard, certifying agencies will back you up in terms of liability. Which means you’re protected legally in the event of an accident that you couldn’t prevent.
  • Instructor training goes far beyond just dive skills. You’ll develop as a leader and educator, while gathering a host of other useful skills like basic emergency medical and professional sales training.
  • Pro deals provide access to heavily discounted gear. You’ll be able to purchase the latest kits and find replacement parts oftentimes at nearly half of the market retail price.
  • There’s a ton of opportunity to grow as both a diver and a leader. The more time and energy you invest into furthering your education and teaching capabilities, the more personal and fiscal return you will see.
  • You’re joining a community. That means you’ll be surrounded by a group of like-minded friends and mentors to support you in your journey.

The Drawbacks

Like any other job, there are parts of being a scuba instructor that you’re not going to be thrilled with. That could mean hauling heavy tanks every day, having the limits of your patience tested by students, or just the inherent stress that comes along with being responsible for people who are new to being underwater.

  • Working in the outdoor recreation industry does not mean a leisurely career. Being an instructor is hard work physically, mentally, and emotionally. You should expect to be challenged on all of these fronts.
  • There’s a big initial investment in terms of both money and time. In order to even sign up for the instructor course you need to be certified at least up to divemaster standards, and have a fair amount of hours underwater on your own time.
  • As with many outdoor jobs, finding year-round work can be a challenge depending on where you’re located. New dive instructors oftentimes have to be creative and tenacious about staying employed during the offseason and be willing to do some work on the side to maintain the lifestyle.
  • It can be scary. Beyond just the inherent risks diving presents to your own person, you must stay vigilant and ready to respond to the needs of your students. If someone freaks out, or conditions aren’t ideal, it’s your responsibility to figure it out.

The Details

Ultimately, becoming a dive instructor is a lifestyle choice that almost certainly will lead to a very rich and interesting career. If you decide that it’s right for you and want to start moving forward in the professional dive industry, here are your bottom lines.

  • You need to be at least 18 years of age
  • Certified up to Divemaster (Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, Emergency First Responder, and Divemaster Course)
  • Have at least 100 logged dives
  • Have around $3000 to cover the cost of the course and the requisite materials
  • You must pass the Instructor Examination

If you’re a seasoned recreational diver, chances are you’ve amassed at least some of these requirements. In addition, it’s a good idea to take some of the specialty certifications offered after you complete your Advanced Open Water to become a more rounded diver.

It can seem like a daunting task when you’re just starting out with your Open Water, but experience is crucial and it’s way better to take your time and have a solid foundation than it is to rush headlong into a career you’re unprepared for.

The rest of the guide will cover some of the intricacies of the PADI instructor pathway, and how you can move forward into a career teaching people how to dive.

teaching people how to dive. Instructor and the students in a swimming pool. This training intended to get a small taste of the demands of a scuba dive without committing to a plunge into the open water.

teaching people how to dive. Instructor and the students in a swimming pool. This training intended to get a small taste of the demands of a scuba dive without committing to a plunge into the open water.

How Much Does a Dive Instructor Make?

As much as becoming a dive instructor is about the experience, at the end of the day you still need to be able to pay the bills. But, the question of how much money a dive instructor can expect to make isn’t as straightforward as with other careers given the flexibility of the work, and the amount of variables that can determine your rates.

As a baseline, new Open Water dive instructors can typically expect to earn $20k USD in a calendar year. But, that’s assuming your only skills are teaching beginner scuba classes.

If you continue to invest in yourself as an instructor, you can get certified to teach more advanced and specialty recreational courses such as nitrox and AVO. The more classes you are certified to teach, the more work you’ll have, and the bigger asset you will be to the dive shop you work for.

If you’re working through a resort or dive shop, you can make commission from selling gear and additional courses. If you’re independent, you can pocket the entirety of your earnings but have to pay a lot in terms of overhead costs like renting equipment and pool space. It’s not uncommon for new dive instructors to do some work on the side.

Some instructors go even further, getting into commercial diving, where the pay can be somewhat lucrative.

How Much Does it Cost?

The typical cost to progress from divemaster all the way to instructor ranges from $2000-3000 USD. But this isn’t the bottom line.

Courses are often offered in modular components, meaning you sometimes have the option to knock out certifications like the EFRI (Emergency First Responder Instructor) separately, and sign up to do PADI’s online learning components on your own time.

Prices and criteria will vary from center to center, but typically you can expect the following price breakdown in USD:

  • $1,200 for the IDC “course” itself
  • $350 for the Emergency First Responder Instructor certification and application
  • $900 for the Instructor Examination and application
  • $550 for PADI’s online learning portion of the course

Oftentimes dive centers will offer package deals at a slightly discounted rate. These packages have been known to provide the required course materials and access to their dive facilities. This is a hefty investment on top of all of the previous time and resources you’ve used progressing through your recreational requirements, but there are ways to mitigate the price we’ll discuss later in this guide.

there are ways to mitigate the price we’ll discuss later in this guide.

Scuba dive Instructor and the students practicing to breath together with hand communication underwater

What Qualifications Do You Need?

In order to sign up for your IDC (Instructor Development Course) and start your career as a professional diver instructor, you first need to run the recreational certification gauntlet.

If you’ve been a PADI diver for some time, there’s a good chance you already have your Advanced Open Water. Congratulations, that’s the first big step towards your instructor candidacy.

After the AOW, you have to learn the skills to respond in the event of an incident through the Rescue Diver Course and the more general Emergency First Responder certification. The Rescue Diver Course is fantastic, and a worthwhile investment for any serious diver. Investing in a couple of specialty classes is a good idea too to round out your diving experience. Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re ready to take your divemaster course and become a PADI pro.

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As a divemaster, you’ll learn best underwater leadership and guiding principles while assisting with classes and preparing for the responsibilities of an instructor. You don’t need to work as a divemaster before you enroll in an IDC, you just need the certification which also requires at least 60 logged dives. However, you need at least 100 dives to qualify for the Instructor Examination.

Outside of technical qualifications, being a dive instructor means you have great customer service skills and the confidence it takes to lead students into the unknown. You should be comfortable in the water in variable conditions, and in good enough shape to assist students in need. A sense of humor, while not essential, definitely helps.

Scuba diving instructor and student in actual open water diving.

How Long Will it Take?

Depending on your resources and experience level, obtaining your dive instructor certification could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. For some perspective, the fastest you could possibly go from a brand new diver, all the way to OWSA is 6 months. The jury is out regarding whether or not that’s a good decision.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with cranking through your certifications and getting a jump start on your career, that’s a lot of information to process. Ultimately, only you know the limits of your own abilities. Turn a critical eye toward yourself and be honest about whether or not you feel like you can be responsible for the wellbeing of other people in an emergency situation. If you have prior leadership experience, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to adapt those skills underwater.

The IDC itself can run anywhere between five days to a week and a half, while the Instructor Examination usually runs around two days. There are many routes to becoming an instructor, and the path is going to look different for everyone. That being said, your IDC is a great opportunity to learn from your peers and long term scuba veterans. It’s something to be enjoyed and taken advantage of if that’s the experience you’re seeking.

What Exactly is an IDC?

Think of the IDC as a sort of a capstone course for your diving education. It’s just as much an academic endeavor as it is physical training. Before your IDC actually starts, PADI requires you first complete an online learning course to streamline the in-person training.

Instructor Development Courses are typically split into two parts. The Assistant Instructor course is a partial certification that allows you to co-teach with another, more experienced instructor. Candidates who make it through this initial training can choose to move on to the full OWSI certification which will allow you to teach autonomously. The majority of aspiring instructors push all the way through their IDC and go on to take the Instructor Examination shortly afterwards.

The bulk of the IDC is focused on giving you the tools to teach and assess core skills needed by any PADI open water diver. There’s plenty of time for practice and drilling your demo and assessment skills, as well as the opportunity to practice teaching in a classroom setting. Above all, IDC courses are a fun, collaborative way to prepare for your Examination, and you should leave feeling confident in your ability to succeed.

In addition to the nuts and bolts of Open Water Courses, you’ll also receive professional marketing and sales training, risk assessment techniques, and more about your role as an instructor in the world of scuba diving.

Choosing an IDC Center

If you’re set on actually going for your OWSI, and have amassed all the funds and certifications necessary to sign up for the course, the next thing you’ll want to do is decide where you’re going to take it.There are benefits and drawbacks to every dive center, the trick is finding a five-star dive center that works for you.

IDC courses are offered all over the world, so when you’re deciding where you want to go it’s important to keep a few things in mind. The first and biggest constraint is going to be your own budget and timeframe. While the cold and murky waters of your hometown may not be as exciting as Bali, you’ll learn all of the same skills locally as you would in distant, remote locations without having to pay for travel on top of the course. That being said, it’s a great excuse to make a trip out of it.

You should also consider the kind environment you anticipate teaching in the most. The skills themself don’t change, but factors like visibility, temperature, and general dive conditions do. Ideally, you’ll be taking your IDC and your examination in a setting similar to the one you’ll be teaching in. For example, if you belong to that small section of die-hard freshwater divers, you wouldn’t get as much out of taking your IDC around a tropical reef. Specific considerations and tricks regarding new divers in these kinds of areas can be very helpful.

Ultimately Dive Centers that run IDCs are located pretty much everywhere you can dive, and a final but crucial consideration you should make is possible language barriers between yourself, your instructors, and your peers during the duration of the course.

Instructor Examination

You’ve completed your IDC, and you’ve practiced your skills and honed your teaching techniques. You’ve spent more time underwater than most people will in several lifetimes and are ready to take the final step in achieving your goal of becoming an Open Water Scuba Instructor–the Instructor Examination (IE). This roughly two-day test proves that you’re worthy of representing PADI as an instructor, and are ready to take on the mantle of teaching.

After you’ve completed all your prerequisites and your IDC, you should feel well-prepared to tackle anything thrown at you over the course of the examination.

The IE is divided into four stand-alone sections. You need to pass each section to qualify as an instructor, but you can retry portions of the exam you didn’t pass at a later date.

The four sections are a written exam where you prove your personal knowledge, a classroom teaching section where you demonstrate you can pass that knowledge along, a pool skills section, and an open-water skills section.

While the exam is generally regarded as “easy” there are some sections that are notoriously more difficult than others, particularly if you’re asked to walk a faux student through a controlled emergency swimming ascent (CESA). Don’t stress out too much about it though, ideally, the IE should be celebratory in nature, and you should feel good about yourself moving forward into your dive career.

Should You Become A Diving Instructor While Working?

There are many people who want to become diving instructors while they are working. This is because they want to be able to dive and teach others how to dive. While it is possible to become a diving instructor while working, it is not always the best option. Here are some things to consider before becoming a diving instructor while working.

What is it like to be a scuba diving instructor? A day as a diving instructor is nothing like a day in the life of a regular person. If you’re a person who always has a bad attitude, you never know what you’re going to get from one morning to the next. A good driving instructor must also have a high level of flexibility and versatility, as well as a good sense of courtesy and respect for others. During confined water sessions at the OW and DSD courses, your students will be immersed in the water. The skills you’ll learn will be explained in detail, as will the techniques you’ll use. During a dive, you will almost always be in the front of the group, with a Dive Master behind you.

Working as a diving instructor is a lot of fun but also a lot of work, with long hours and tiring days. It is critical that you are quick on your feet and have your wits about you so that nothing goes wrong, as you are the one who must recognize, react to, and deal with potential problems as soon as they arise. The good, the bad, and the ugly of being a diving instructor were all summed up in one sentence. The majority of the time, I enjoy the warmth of a sunny day. Meeting and sharing the excitement of diving around the world with other people from all over the world is a wonderful experience. It is best not to sit at a desk all day. Learning new things on a daily basis, and increasing your knowledge of the ocean, is a great way to improve your overall knowledge.

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Some dive instructors earn as little as $500 per month, others can earn up to $600/month, and others can earn anything between. The equipment used in scuba diving is referred to as a scubascuba gear. A snorkel and mask are part of the equipment, along with a snorkel, fins, and buoyancy compensator device (BCD). If you wear this mask, you can see underwater. Using snorkels, you can breathe in the water by inserting your mouth above the surface. Swimmers make it easier to swim without using their hands with fins, according to Wiki/Scuba_setScuba set – Wikipedia – The salary of a diving instructor is influenced by several factors, including the level of experience and expertise of the instructor Diver salary is an example of a fixed salary or a commission-based salary.

You must have completed a minimum of six months of diving training before being certified. Participants in the Instructor Development Course must have at least 60 active dives, including experience in night, deep, and navigation diving. You will need to take 100 logged dives in order to pass the instructor exam. A copy of the training materials for cardiopulmonary and first aid must be present.

Many diving instructors and divemasters report difficulty finding work as a diving instructor or divemaster. It is true that there are numerous divemaster and dive instructor jobs available, but as with any other job search, you should prioritize your options.

How Long Does It Take To Become Dive Instructor?


Assuming you have your open water certification, it would take approximately 3-4 weeks to become a dive instructor. The process involves completing an instructor development course (IDC) and an instructor examination (IE).

What do I have to do to be a great scuba diving instructor? SDI, TDI, ERDI, and PFI are among the institutions offering international training. Jon Kieren, a zero to hero Open Water Diver, has adapted the flow path from the zero to hero model to the instructor flow path. In the 15 years of diving and teaching, there have been many mediocre courses taught, hard lessons learned, and, frankly, dangerous situations. If industry’s minimum standards aren’t universally enough, how long should it take? The most important aspect of being a professional water polo player is the time spent in the water in varying conditions and the desire to improve. Most instructors advise that once they’ve completed the divemaster course, they proceed directly to instructor development.

How long does it take to become a certified scuba diver? The answer is always the same. It makes no difference what experience level you are given; most agencies allow instructors to upgrade to a higher level. If you want to be a great teacher, you should seek out an IT with teaching experience at that level.

How Long Does It Take To Become Padi Instructor?

To become an Instructor after completing your first course, you must have completed your first course in at least six months. In this period of time, you will learn and gain experience. Once you have completed 100 dives and reached the PADI Divemaster level, you can begin your instructor training.

Padi Vs. Ssi: Which Diving Certification Is Right For You?

Both PADI and SSI offer a wide range of courses and certifications that can be tailored to meet your specific diving requirements. Both organizations are recognized as diving qualifications in addition to maintaining high standards of training and certification. The only significant difference between PADI and SSI is that PADI offers a larger number of courses and certifications. If you are a recreational diver, you will notice no significant differences because the differences are so small.

How Hard Is It To Become A Scuba Instructor?

A PADI instructor must be certified as an entry-level scuba diver with a reputable agency for at least six months before being allowed to teach scuba. You must have a diving license as well as a rescue certificate and a divemaster or dive leader certificate.

So You Want To Be A Dive Instructor? Here’s What You Need To Know

Good instructors have a solid understanding of the sport as well as a thorough understanding of its history, making them natural leaders. Their students are motivated and kept on task by them. They’re patient and able to build relationships with their students no matter how difficult the situation may be, which is a testament to their perseverance. All things are considered when it comes to deciding whether you want to pursue a career as a scuba diver, and a degree in marine science or a related field is a good place to start. It is critical to gain experience as a teacher in order to become qualified. It’s also critical to stay up to date on the latest diving technology and equipment. To become a great dive instructor, you must be able to do this all.

Can You Scuba Dive As A Job?


Divers can pursue a variety of careers in the recreational diving industry. As with any job, experience, training, and certification are required; however, there are positions requiring only a minimal amount of dive experience combined with a healthy interest in the sport of diving.

However, there are a few diving jobs that do not require a professional certification, as long as you have access to open water. Many government, university, non-governmental organization, and private companies use research divers to complete research projects. One of the most physically demanding and emotionally demanding jobs scuba divers can undertake is that of a rescue diver. There are few jobs in the diving industry that are more rewarding than that of a dive instructor. The possibility of practicing your profession while also earning a good living is an appealing feature. Divers earn the highest pay possible for their diving in commercial operations. The cost of training, as well as the cost of becoming a commercial diver, can also be quite high.

If you’re a scuba diver, writing set assignments or passively earning money from your own website can help you make a living. A dive shop manager who wants to own his or her own business can do so in the future. If underwater photography appeals to you, you might want to think about becoming an underwater photographer right now. Underwater photography can be learned through a specialized course. Collectors come into contact with submerged golf balls. We have the option of recycling golf balls and selling them or recovering them and making money from each one. A scuba diving career combines the two of art and diving.

How Much Money Do Professional Scuba Divers Make?

Diver salaries are typically high. In California, scuba diving equipment is the most commonly used for receiving an annual salary for scuba diving gear. A mask, snorkel, fins, and buoyancy compensator device (BCD) are all included in this kit. Underwater viewing is possible by wearing this mask. When you use the snorkel, you can inhale water as you breathe through your mouth above it. Fins make it easier to swim without using your hands, which is why swimming with fins costs $40,164 per year. That works out to be approximately $19.31 per hour, assuming you don’t need a simple salary calculator. This works out to $3,347 per month or $772 per week.
The saturation diver can earn between $30,000 and $45,000 per month. This expense can easily add up to over $180,000 per year. Divers in saturation positions typically receive additional compensation in the form of “depth pay,” which can earn them between $1 and $4 per foot. Divers can find a depth pay for both air and mixed gas diving.
Divers can make a good living as long as they have the proper training and experience.




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