Take Active Steps to Keep Your PADI Pro Career Fresh


By John Kinsella

It’s hard to beat the excitement and anticipation of that first job as a PADI® Instructor. Mine was on St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands. It lived up to my every expectation: great colleagues, truly staggering location and best of all actually making a (modest) living in the dive industry.

The core of the work was running Discover Scuba® Diving experiences for cruise ship visitors. We’d go down to the dock to pick up the guests on our custom trucks, complete with fringed sunshades, bring them by the shop for the dive briefing and then drive over to this magical little sandy beach where we had a tour laid out. It was an extremely well organized system and ran like clockwork. It was great fun, at first.

Six months later, let’s just say that I didn’t look forward to the next DSD® with the same enthusiasm. For PADI Pros, and for professionals in any line of work, it’s important to take active steps to keep things fresh. Here are a couple of ways to do just that.

The big one is to simply mix it up. Variety, as the saying goes, is the spice of life. In my case in the Virgin Islands, I positioned myself to get assigned to Open Water Diver courses. All it took was letting my boss know I wanted to and a bit of persistence. While the opportunities were not as abundant, the difference it made was staggering and as a bonus, I went back to the DSDs with renewed vigor. I also, with some success, looked for every opportunity to enthusiastically promote the Open Water Diver course. The result was good for everyone: DSD participants became divers, the shop benefitted from return customers, and I staved off ennui.

This approach works at all levels and in all locations. Later, running a fledgling dive business in Ireland, the dominant course was, as you might expect, Open Water Diver. The solution in this case was to prioritize continuing education. The joy of running the first Advanced Open Water Diver course was memorable. It made use of different dive sites, was much easier and more profitable to run (all that stuff in the IDC is true!) and the participants went on to become long term customers and firm friends. Everybody wins.

Another great way to keep enthusiasm high is to take another, different, course yourself. Recently I bumped into a friend and part time colleague in the coffee shop. Hugh is a PADI Divemaster and a great coxswain. He’s one of those people you are always happy to see when teaching a course or running a dive trip. He mentioned he had just signed up for the Tec 40 course. He said he was really looking forward to being the student for a while instead of the divemaster. He was also just curious to see what the TecRec® courses were all about and felt that even if he didn’t go down the hardcore Tec road, the skills and knowledge would certainly not hurt his recreational deep dives. He’s still going to become an instructor (and I know he’ll be a great one) but this little “detour” is nothing if not fun.

Do everyone a favor, especially yourself, and just do something different once in a while as a PADI Pro. It’s not hard to find something fun to do underwater.

Teaching Tips – Emergency Weight Drop

The emergency weight drop skill was added to the revised PADI® Open Water Diver course to teach student divers to drop their weights exactly as they would in an emergency and experience the sudden buoyancy increase. It’s different from, and should not be confused with, the weight removal and replacement skill. Student divers should learn to discard weights at the surface without hesitation, which in an emergency is very beneficial and can greatly improve the situation. Here are a few tips for teaching this skill:


Tip 1 – How to not damage the pool or lose weights in open water

  • Drop weights over an insensitive or protected area
  • In a pool, use soft weights, place a mat on the pool bottom or tie a rope around the pocket-weight handle or weight belt and hold one end so you can catch the weight when dropped
  • In open water, tie a rope around the pocket-weight handle or weight belt and clip it to a buoy so that when dropped, the weight will stay attached to the buoy
  • Position a certified assistant underwater to catch the weights

Tip 2 – How to make it realistic

  • Demonstrate and encourage a quick pull and immediate release of weights
  • Do not have divers pull weight, then control where it’s dropped
  • Do not have divers hand you the weight
  • You may have divers check the area to make sure all is clear, however, separate this step from the actual weight drop skill

Tip 3 – How to conduct the skill

  • Position student diver in water too deep in which to stand either in confined water or open water
  • Have diver start with regulator in the mouth, empty BCD, floating at eye level and gently kicking as needed
  • Have diver release enough weight to feel positive buoyancy, which does not have to be all weight worn
  • Repeat skill as necessary until diver masters the quick pull and drop

PADI divePAL Computer Simulator Intro and Setup

PADI  divePAL Dive Simulator Access Card

product 70275

With an increasing number of PADI Instructors teaching the dive computer option in Open Water, we now have an improved dive computer simulator. Students can choose from a wide variety of different computers and practice plotting and analyzing their dives.

The simulator is included with the Open Water crewpak 60335 and eLearning crewpak 70821 and also available ala carte (product no. 70275). To see the divePAL computer simulator in action, or preview the set-up process without having to use up an access code, please view the videos below:

Students have the option to download divePAL onto their Windows desktop or laptop, or onto an Apple iPad. Additional divePAL overview videos and tutorials are available on YouTube. Simply search for divePAL.

PADI  divePAL Dive Simulator Access Card (back)

FAQ for New Dive Computer Option in Open Water

Can I buy the new computer book by itself or do I have to buy the whole crewpak?
We sell the manual by itself under certain circumstances, please contact your sales rep for more information.

Can I teach both the RDP table and the computer?

PADI Open Water Diver computer option crewpak

If you’d like to teach both options, order the computer crewpak (part no 60335) and add on a table ala carte (ordering the reverse – a table crewpak + computer book – is more expensive).

Open Water Computer option with manual: part no. 60335

Table with instructions ala carte: part no 60099

Will the Dive Computer Option Be Added to eLearning?
As of 8 June 2010, the dive computer option is integrated in PADI’s eLearning Open Water course; however, the student must complete the dive planning module using the table or eRDPML. Read more about the dive computer option in the online open water course.

Is there going to be a revised Open Water exam?
Yes, the open water exam has been revised and it shipping now. 
View the current revision dates for PADI’s core exams.

Will there be new Open Water Prescriptive Lesson Guides?
Yes! This product has undergone dramatic changes and is available now. Read more about the new Open Water Prescriptive Lesson Guides.

Where can I find more information on teaching the computer option?
Please reference the third quarter 2009 training bulletin.

Have the Open Water manual or Open Water DVD changed?
No changes to either of those products.

Do computer students need the Open Water manual?
Yes, PADI Standards require all Open Water students to own a copy of the Open Water Manual. Computer students must read the entire manual and complete knowledge reviews 1-3. Computer students are not required to complete knowledge reviews 4 and 5.

In lieu of knowledge reviews 4-5 from the Open Water manual, the computer student completes two knowledge reviews from the How to Use and Choose Dive Computers manual. Answers to these knowledge reviews can be downloaded from the PADI Pros site.

What is the Dive Simulator?
The Dive Simulator is a generic dive computer used to illustrate some of the topics discussed in the How to Use and Choose Dive Computers manual. The simulator is a free download (access information can be found in the Computers manual).

How does PADI address variety of dive computers on the market (and differences in dive planning calculations)?
The How to Use and Choose Dive Computers manual discusses general computer use and refers students to their users manual for specific details.  Quiz and exam questions are worded to address general computer usage rather than specific scenarios.