How to Get the Divemaster Job of Your Dreams (Part 1)

how to get the best divemaster job

Your PADI Divemaster certification can open the door to a fun and rewarding career anywhere in the world, but landing a great job takes work. You can’t be like a sea anemone and wait for the perfect job to drift by. Use the strategies below to outmaneuver the competition and snatch up your dream job.

Do You Have the Skills Employers Expect?
For the most part, business owners would rather hire someone with experience rather than train a newbie. Review the list below to ensure when a potential employer asks if you have experience filling tanks, working on a boat, etc. – you can answer yes!

  • DSD Leader credential – By completing the PADI Discover Scuba Diving Leader internship, a Divemaster can conduct PADI Discover Scuba® (DSD) programs in a pool or confined water. This skill makes you a valuable asset to any dive operation and, because it is an optional part of the Divemaster course, gives you an advantage over other job applicants.
  • Boat Basics – PADI Divemasters, especially those hoping to work in resort areas, need to know their way around a boat. Familiarize yourself with boat terminology, local laws, and make sure you remember those knot tying skills. If you don’t have a lot of boat diving knowledge, consider taking the PADI Boat Diver Speciality course.
  • Minor Equipment Repairs – Divemasters spend a lot of time helping divers with their gear. If you don’t know how to handle minor gear issues, enroll in the PADI Equipment Specialist course and/or purchase the PADI Equipment Specialist Touch
  • Emergency Oxygen Administration – Every dive leader should be familiar with how to administer oxygen in the event of a diving emergency. Most dive operations will expect you to have this skill – in addition to current first aid and CPR training.  Learn more about the PADI Emergency Oxygen Provider Specialty. If you already have this certification, talk to a PADI Course Director about getting trained to teach this course.
  • Ability to Fill Tanks – The ability to fill scuba tanks is an essential skill for Divemasters. To distinguish yourself from other candidates, you may want to get a visual cylinder inspection certification.

Tank-Fill

What Makes You Better Than the Rest?

Why are you the best candidate for a Divemaster job? What can you do better than anyone else? If you don’t have an answer to these questions, consider picking up one of the specialized skills below:

  1. Boat Skills – Resort and liveaboard operators need staff members who can do more than just lead dives. If you can drive a skiff, have a boat handling certification, know basic boat engine or compressor maintenance, or have a captain’s license, you will be twice as valuable as a Divemaster who does not have these skills.
  2. Equipment Service Technician –  Enroll in manufacturer-sponsored courses such as regulator repair, BCD maintenance and repair, etc. Though you may find yourself at a workbench more often than a dive boat, this can be your foot in the door.
  3. Know Your Local Marine Life – Most Divemasters have a good (but not great) knowledge of local marine life. By learning about the behaviors and habitats of your local critters, you’ll be able to help divers get more from their dive experience (and hopefully show their gratitude in tips). PADI’s Fish ID and Underwater Naturalist Specialty courses are a good place to start.
  4. Photo/Video Expertise – Capturing great images of marine life and divers having fun is a huge asset to any dive business. Photos and video are an essential part of any businesses’ marketing strategy, yet many dive operators don’t have time to get them. Divemasters can also teach the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer Specialty Course(under the direction of a PADI Instructor) after receiving training from a PADI Course Director.
  5. Adaptive Techniques – PADI Divemasters can become a certified PADI Adaptive Techniques Support Diver (English only) and learn techniques to apply when training and diving with physically and mentally challenged divers.

Adaptive

Retail Recommendations – A Divemaster looking for work in a non-resort location should learn everything they can about the major manufacturer’s product lines. Knowing the features and benefits of popular BCDs, regulators and computers makes you a valuable employee to retailers.

Resorts – Divemasters looking for work in resort areas should be familiar with local places to eat, drink and have fun – easy right? Another thing DM’s should know is how to drive a large passenger van. Many dive operators in resort areas have a 15+ passenger van to pick up guests at their hotel(s) and to shuttle divers to/from the dive boat. Check local licensing requirements, some areas require a special driver’s license endorsement.

Knowing more than one language is also advantageous for Divemasters working in resort areas. The “best” second language to learn will depend on the area. Visit the Employment Board area of the PADI Pros Site to learn which languages are in demand.

Employment-Board1

Check in next month for Part 2 and find out about those extras that can put you in the winning seat.

Can the “Best” Divemasters come from the “Worst” Divers?

By John Kinsella

Perhaps an instructor’s most important role is training fellow dive professionals; running a PADI® Divemaster course, as the book succinctly says, demands nothing less than your best effort. Ditto for the DM candidates.

fiji10_752

Speaking of effort, a recent candidate got me thinking about what it takes to make a really great PADI Divemaster. This person had to work hard at every step of the journey to PADI professional. Throughout the progression, from Open Water, to Advanced Open Water and Rescue, nothing came easy, but equally, nothing was allowed to get in the way. Often, skills had to be practiced time and time again to develop mastery; sometimes even to the consternation of fellow candidates who flew through the required skills and exercises. This was real world affirmation of the benefits of performance-based training.

It wasn’t easy for the DM training staff either; they had to put in extra effort too. From counseling sessions to restore confidence when if flagged to the extra time needed to make sure skills were performed comfortably and confidently, the trainers went the extra mile. What was notable in this context was how willing and selfless they were in response to the tremendous efforts the candidate made.

Marketing

The end result was that, with considerable time and effort, and constant good humor, this candidate prevailed and I have yet to meet someone who was more delighted with success. But the best was yet to come. I think, more than anything, it is the inherent understanding of the challenges people sometimes face and overcome while learning new dive skills, and the consequent empathy, that helped this new divemaster really blossom and become an invaluable and committed dive shop team member and one of the most popular divemasters with customers.

For those involved with professional development, and that should include all PADI Members, the basic message is clear. Sometimes it takes a bit of extra effort to help a DM (or other) candidate succeed. But work hard with people who try hard and the rewards can be worth it.

The Power of the Personal Touch

By John Kinsella

Grooming divemaster and instructor candidates starts early and demands a personal touch.

It was a life-changing phone call. Commander Jim Williams was on the line from California; heady stuff for an 18 year old from Dublin, Ireland in the early 1980s. I had responded to an ad in Skin Diver magazine with a letter of inquiry about PADI Instructor training in San Diego a couple of weeks previously and this was the follow up. Cmdr. Williams was affable and a great listener (a great salesman!) and by the end of the call he had convinced me (easy) and my mother (not easy) that I should immediately book a flight and enroll in the College’s next 10-week instructor development program.

USA Tour

I did. And that phone call marked not only the beginning of a career as a PADI Instructor, but also a lifelong friendship. The world’s a different place now; sending a letter or returning a form to request further information seems absolutely ridiculous. But the power of the personal touch, Jim’s picking up the phone and taking a genuine interest, remains exactly the same. And it’s still an extremely effective way to make friends and fill leadership-level courses.

Face to face, it’s often as easy as taking a moment to privately compliment and encourage a particularly keen student diver. It’s amazing how often you can tell, even during an entry-level course, who’s going to get seriously involved in diving. Taking a real interest in that person’s success and clearly mapping out the continuing education opportunities is always well received and rewarded.

Latin America

When you can’t see the person you’re talking to, there’s nothing more important than follow up to turn anonymous inquiries into PADI Pros. The medium makes no difference (other than keeping expectations of a swift response high!). Whether it’s a contact form from a website, an email, a tweet or a post, or even an old-fashioned phone call, take every contact personally. Make absolutely sure that you (or your staff) make the time to get to know (remember to listen and not spew off set sales spiels) the person behind the ping. Time and again when you look at the compliments sent in about PADI Members, happy customers highlight speedy response to requests for information.

The strategy works on a larger scale too. Personalized emails generally outperform anonymous ones. In one A/B test, an inbound marketing company sent out a promotion to two similar market segments. One group got an email from the company; the other got an email from a specific person who worked at the company. The actual email content was exactly the same. Guess which had the best response?

At this level, when dealing with someone about to commit serious time and money in becoming a pro, get personal and take the time to get to know who you’re talking to. Your new friends, divemasters and instructors will thank you.

New PADI Divemaster Promotional Video Available


We are excited to announce a brand new video for the PADI Divemaster course on the PADI YouTube Channel. The video focuses on inspiring new and existing divers to take the next step and Go PRO.

Here are a few ideas on how you can use this great new video to help drive your business:

  • Share the video across your website and social media channels to inspire existing customers and even their non-diving friends to choose the PADI Professional lifestyle.
  • Play the video on-screen in your store to attract the attention of visitors to your shop who might be thinking of their next steps in diving.
  • Show the video as part of a final presentation at the end of the PADI Rescue Diver course to inspire your new Rescue Divers to  continue their adventures with you.
  • Include the video in an email newsletter targeted at your existing Rescue Divers along with a limited edition promotional offer to encourage course bookings.

Should you have any questions or need assistance on utilizing this video, or other PADI marketing material, please contact your PADI Regional Customer Service Team.

How To: Get Divemaster Applications Processed Without Delay

PADI Divemaster sticker

Divemaster candidates have been working hard and applications have been streaming into the PADI Offices. PADI strives to process all apps promptly, however they are occasionally delayed due to missing documentation.

The most common reason for a delay is missing documentation when the applicant has completed a non-EFR first aid and CPR course. Non-EFR first aid/ CPR courses can meet the requirement for Divemaster; however, documentation of course completion must be included with the application.

The PADI Instructor Manual lists the qualifying certification description for EFR Primary Care as proof of current CPR training, and for EFR Secondary Care as proof of current first aid training. Most CPR/first aid courses are accepted provided they meet current emergency care guidelines. If you’re uncertain about whether your candidate’s CPR/first aid course meets the necessary requirements, please contact your Regional Training Consultant to verify.

Please note: First aid and CPR courses taught entirely online do not meet Divemaster requirements (nor do they meet other first aid/CPR requirements for other PADI courses).

Here’s how to ensure your Divemaster candidate’s application is processed as quickly as possible:

  1. Verify the certification information is complete
  2. Verify that all required signatures are there
  3. Make sure that the application is completed in its entirety – including the hologram sticker
  4. When submitting prerequisite certifications from other organizations, including CPR/first aid course completions, make sure that copies of these are attached to the application.
  5. Provide payment information.
    Here are the PADI Americas Application Fees.

Acceptable documentation includes:

  • A copy of both sides of the certifying organization’s certification card.
  • A copy of the certifying organization’s wall certificate.
  • A letter on the certifying organization’s letterhead verifying the certification

Clarification on Dive Medicals

PADI Divemaster, (Assistant) Instructor and other PADI Pro level training clearly list the important course prerequisite that the candidate must be medically evaluated and cleared for diving by a physician within 12 months.

As this is a course prerequisite, both the PADI Instructor conducting the course and the PADI dive shop where the training is conducted are responsible to ensure that this dive medical is in place prior to starting the course – or at the very latest before conducting any in-water sessions (also if these take place in swimming pool or confined water). It is a violation of PADI Training Standards to take candidates into the water for training activities while not yet having a fit to dive medical on file.

The above also applies for any students on other PADI courses that involve dives and where they indicated “Yes” to any question(s) on the Medical Statement / Questionnaire. If their medical condition changes during the course, they must be re-evaluated and again cleared for diving by a physician prior to continuing the training. A fit to dive medical must also still be valid (less than one year old) at time of course completion.

Tips to ensure / verify appropriate dive medical documentation is in place at the start and end of every course:

  1. The dive medical must clearly state at least the following specific information:
    • Full name and details (e.g. date of birth) to identify the diver
    • Clearance for diving (e.g. “fit to dive”)
    • Full name and contact details of the physician
    • Physician’s signature and date
  2. Keep a copy on file (the diver keeps the original of their own medical)

Hologram for PADI Divemaster and Instructor Applications

PADI is changing the color of the holograms we ship with the Divemaster and Instructor crewpaks. Starting in a few weeks you’ll start to see

Green holograms in the Divemaster kits.

Blue holograms in the  IDC kits.

2011 will be a transition year, so please use whatever hologram came with your materials.

 

New PADI Divemaster Program Debuts

Revised PADI Divemaster Materials Now Shipping

Is it me or is this Divemaster program revision a pretty freakin’ big deal? I have a two page list of people who said, “you’ve got to let me know when the new materials are available!” Well my friends, it’s on like Donkey Kong.

All the new materials are in stock and shipping! 
and
The new instructor guide has been posted to the Pro’s Site!

For an overview of PADI’s changes to the Divemaster program, take a look at the 4th Quarter 2010 Training Bulletin and read our Divemaster FAQs for PADI Instructors.

To begin teaching the new course, you’ll need the new instructor guide (free download) and the new materials. We have a special package – one each of the new materials – that I’ll tell you about in a moment.

Exam is not a free download

The new DM instructor guide, is now available on the PADI Pro’s Site as a free download. Here’s how to get it:

After logging on: click on Training Essentials followed by Curriculum. There are other are materials online for the new course including:

  • New Divemaster pages for the Guide to Teaching
  • The new knowledge review answers
  • The new exam answers
  • … and other materials.

Please note: the new DM exam must be purchased – it is not available as a download.

If you have candidates currently enrolled in the prior curriculum, or materials in stock – don’t worry. The previous program is valid through 1 July 2011. This program may be a better choice for candidates who don’t have many dives and are eager to start. The new program requires 40 logged dives to start, and the previous program only required 20.

Additionally, it is possible to have two Divemaster candidates in the same class who are in different versions of the program. It will require a bit of organization by the instructor – but it’s not against any standards.

What happens to a candidate who hasn’t finished the old program by 1 July 2011? The candidate can continue in the program they started with. The candidate should not switch to the new program and they don’t need to purchase new materials.

Below is a rundown of the new materials. If you want to order one each of the new items there is a DEMA special – $151.60 for all six new products. If you’re a PADI Americas member, contact your sales rep this week and ask for package number: 82593.

New and Revised Products

  • Divemaster lesson guides (70918)
    with prescriptive technology and presentation notes
  • Divemaster instructor cue cards (60206)
    four slates – version 1.0
  • Divemaster manual
    (available in the DM crewpak or instructor start-up package)
  • Divemaster candidate slates (60207) version 3.0
  • Divemaster candidate DVD (70844)
    required viewing, not included in DM crewpak, includes skill videos
  • Divemaster exam(60225)
    four-pack of new exams, version 3.0

The Skill Evaluation slate (60228) has been revised to include the four new skills but it’s not available until 2011.

Divemaster Online is also available now. Student cost is $200. The eLearning program mirrors the content of the Divemaster manual and DVD. Unlike PADI’s other eLearning courses, DM candidates do not complete the course exam online.

Student Packages

  • DM crewpak (60020) includes all  materials the candidate is required to own (DM manual, slates, instructor manual, Encyclopedia) and the new candidate paperwork.

– This kit also includes a DSD slate and Scuba Tune-Up Guidebook.
– The candidate is required to view the new Divemaster DVD (not included).

  • eLearning crewpak (70921) same as 60020 but does not include Divemaster manual

Available While Supplies Last
70898 – Divemaster Pro-Edition DVD (prior curriculum)
70818MUL – Divemaster modular lesson guides (prior curriculum) includes Dutch, English, French, Portuguese, Español)