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PADI AOW->OWSI and beyond. Is this a bad idea?

Discussion in 'Going Pro' started by Don't Touch Me Eel, Dec 21, 2018.

  1. Don't Touch Me Eel

    Don't Touch Me Eel Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Mid-Atlantic
    Hi everyone! First post!

    Over the past few weeks I've been doing intensive reading of ScubaBoard because I'm strongly considering a change of career. The consensus seems to be "don't become an instructor if you want to make money." I was very passionate about SCUBA when I was a teenager, but then life sort of got in the way and I went to college in order to drop out and ended up in a well paying construction trade in NYC. I had considered going commercial before the trade opportunity had presented itself and since it paid well, I took it. However, after spending the past 3 months in a coastal West African city surrounded by water with no dive infrastructure and a filthy local ocean, I started getting all sorts of ideas about getting back into diving, to the point of contacting an outfit that did a semi-zero to hero program in a location I've never dived but would like to, but there's also practical matters

    So there's no money in recreational instruction! It made me think back to the commercial path, at 31 it seems I'm a bit old to start but not too old, but reading through the commercial forum someone had made a post along the lines of "low oil prices have hit the industry hard." Also that there is/was a very high washout rate for new commercial divers.
    • 31, unmarried, no kids, some passive income
    • want to be in/on the ocean, would like to teach and eventually skipper if possible depending on location(s)
    • would walk away from solid income to pursue a passion (NYC is not really my idea of a good time)
    • open to commercial due to employment/educational/sea time opportunities
    • don't drink/party/live a simple lifestyle
    • haven't dived in 15 years:eek:
    Tell me how bad of an idea this is, or why I should wait 20 years when I'm sitting on substantially more savings to do this! I like having my blind spots covered and would appreciate perspectives from those with more experience or even those who have done something like this!Thanks!
  2. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    My thoughts:
    --waiting at all to do commercial diving not good idea.
    --retiring with solid income then scuba instructor good idea.
    --agree NYC sucks. Let's Go Mets.
  3. IDC Koh Tao Thailand

    IDC Koh Tao Thailand Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Koh Tao
    Hi Garibaldi,

    You have some solid questions and it is a big step to take! :)

    Please read my article about should I get more diving experience before the IDC Course or can I do the Zero to Hero program.

    Then please send me an email if you have any more questions about becoming a diving instructor here: gopro@saireecottagediving.com or info@idckohtaothailand.com

    I personally think that 31 is a great age to start, not too young or old, right in the middle :)
  4. yle

    yle Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Southern California
    I don't have much advice for you except that you're already on the right track: asking a lot of questions so you can separate the reality of "living the dream" from the marketing ("come work in paradise, diving every day!")

    Most people I've met working as instructors were either (a) like myself, doing it as a side job and not reliant on the income or (b) mostly young-ish people that were making just enough to feed themselves (and not much else.)

    If you're really hoping to make a career from this, make a 20-year plan: have a good idea of where you'll work and how you'll live there. Consider that a lot of the places that have opportunities available for scuba instructors are foreign countries which have their own employment laws for foreigners.

    Whatever you find, please post here and send more questions as they come up.
  5. wetb4igetinthewater

    wetb4igetinthewater Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle
    @Don't Touch Me Eel,

    Really good that you ask. I understand the pull of the ocean. It is an amazing world under the surface. I’m 47, and looking at opening my own dive op.

    Please note that there are thousands of dive pros certified EVERY month. Think about what that means for supply and demand to the limited number of positions out there.

    At 31, I’m guessing you don’t want to live in a dump and be at the mercy of unscrupulous employers, as so many of my friends who are dive pros throughout the world have experienced, you have to offer a lot more.

    I do not want to discourage you from pursuing this, but rather formulate a plan where you can be successful and live at a reasonable comfort level and not be exploited.

    But for all that is good and holy, stay the f@%# away from the mills that are so predominant in this industry that just crank out clown after clown in this very large circus. IDCs that brag about their numbers (platinum rating) should raise a red flag.

    What I mean by this is IDCs where candidates are placed on their knees and perform skills. If you are at your safety stop and you need to clear some water out if your mask, do you think descending to the bottom to get on your knees to clear it?

    In my last open water class, I shared the pool with an instructor and his divemaster candidates. My assistants and students thought the DMCs were open water students as they were all on their knees doing skills while my students, starting from the first pool session, did everything off the bottom and trim.

    I will admit that at times I should step away from the keyboard as these sorts of IDCs make me angry as it results in a high volume of unqualified professionals.

    Demand to see skill demo videos. If they are on the knees EVER, skip them.

    These sort of IDCs are often located in tropical destinations and offer the zero to still a zero programs. The average lifespan of a dive instructor is short, skewed by the gap year kids who just want to have fun during that time off. When I was 18, I could tolerate crappy living conditions and crappy pay. After all, it was temporary. You think these kids are going to hone their craft? They are not at it long enough. That low level of quality and professionalism dominates.

    But if you want to make a real career out of this, you need to figure out how you will put yourself at a higher level catering to a higher level client.

    People driven by cost don’t typically understand the difference between an open water course taught on the knees versus one off the bottom and trim.

    You also need to consider what you offer in addition to teaching courses that makes you indispensable, such as but not limited to: boat captain (since you don’t party/do drugs you don’t have to worry about drug tests), compressor tech, equipment tech, marine engine repair. You get the idea.

    Feel free to look over some of my notes here:

    One last recommendation. Reach out to Ryan Custureri of Aqui watersports in Ft Lauderdale at getaqui.com. He’s a full time dive pro, a consummate professional, and generous with his knowledge.

    I’d suggest flying down for some training with him as it will give you a solid foundation. For training within the US, I can’t think of anyone better.
    Jim Lapenta likes this.
  6. Don't Touch Me Eel

    Don't Touch Me Eel Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Mid-Atlantic
    Thank you for the great responses! Just arrived in Abidjan and will give a more thorough response when I am able to use my laptop.
  7. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    Great post--says it all. But no, I have never given thought to kneeling to clear my mask. Even the very first time while diving. You adjust for the different angle. Funny, I was just talking to my wife about that. If you actually did go to the knees because you were taught it that way, you may want to re-consider diving (and other things.....?).
  8. wetb4igetinthewater

    wetb4igetinthewater Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle
    I've seen this happen as well as heard of it many times. I don't think people should give up diving, just fix any weighting issues they have first, get them comfortable being still, and off they go. It isn't hard.
  9. Billy Northrup

    Billy Northrup ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Key Largo / Norcal
    Make wheelbarrows of money commercial diving.

    Take your down time and travel to awesome locations to make a Christmas list of bucket list dives.

    If you want to dabble in instruction I would pick something that wasn't PADI like RAID simply because there is a serious over supply of PADI instructors.
  10. northernone

    northernone Great White Rest in Peace

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Currently: Cozumel, from Canada
    Just received a newsletter from the market leader in hobby diving which mentioned new this year:

    6500 Dive Centers and Resorts
    135,000 Professionals
    1,000,000 Certifications

    Two interesting relationships I drew from this :

    1 out of 7 new certs is a 'pro' cert.

    20 new 'pros' for each new dive center/resort.

    Could be a factor in your decision making.


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