The Importance of Being A Divemaster

Are you focused on becoming a dive professional? Want to go straight to the top and become a Scuba Idol? First, take a moment to read why working as a divemaster will help your career in the long run.


Divemaster vs. Scuba Instructor


We’ve all seen the job advertisements for scuba instructors. They far outweigh the demand for divemasters. Why? Well, instructors can do it all – they teach, they guide, and they do all the standard dive shop jobs. Don’t get me wrong – that’s a good thing!


Many candidates fast forward straight to instructor once they’ve passed their divemaster course. The downside to this, is the level of experience the instructor then holds. Working solely as a divemaster gives you a great experience base to draw from, when you eventually go on to being an instructor.


The Benefit of a Trained Divemaster


A good divemaster is a major benefit to instructors when teaching. They are the link between the instructor and the students. They rally the troops, provide morale, and make the schedule run smoothly. They provide safety support, fill the tanks, and make the funniest jokes.


From an instructors point of view, the divemaster needs to develop to a point where they instantly know what you are thinking underwater. They also need to have the experience to know what action the situation calls for. Alright, so ideally they need to be psychic too.


The Benefit of Working as a Divemaster


Divemasters have a number of programs they can conduct. Volunteer for as many of these as possible. They will help to build your confidence when giving briefings, working in the water with students, and answering diving questions.


I worked solely as a divemaster, then as an assistant instructor, before entering for my instructor exams. I believe this gave me a much broader knowledge base to begin teaching with. At the instructor exams, the level of confidence shown by each candidate reflected their experience. It was easy to spot the people who had already worked in the industry as divemasters or assistant instructors, and they definitely had an advantage.


By working alongside many different instructors, as their assistant, you learn a lot. Most of all how to read a situation and adapt. My top piece of advice for future candidates is to take the best from each instructor you work with, and then develop your own style.


When you have completed your divemaster course, continue to ask the instructors for feedback after a training session. They should brief you before you go in the water with them, but find out if you fulfilled the role they expected of you. Constructive criticism is always beneficial, and means you constantly evolve and improve as a divemaster.


Another benefit from working as a dedicated divemaster is that you will understand how to treat and direct divemasters that work for you later in your career. If you busted your gut doing all the behind-the-scenes work, then hopefully this will make you appreciate your future divemasters.


Divemaster Work Experience and Employment


Divemaster work will often start out as unpaid, unless you are working in a holiday resort and guiding guests. Many people offer their divemaster services in order to build up personal dive experience, with the idea of becoming an instructor in the future. Don’t be disheartened if you do not get paid straight away; the dive industry is similar to any other, it may be challenging to get your first break.


Many dive centers like to employ people that they have trained in-house. Find a nice dive center and stick with them. You will have a higher chance of gaining employment in comparison to a new instructor sending in their CV.


Divemaster of the Universe!


So you see there are many benefits to spending time working as a divemaster. Don’t rush through your training and work experience just to get the golden ticket. If you are in for the long run then take your time, enjoy the ride, and flourish along the way.


Did you work as a divemaster before you became an instructor? What advice do you have for people just starting out in the industry?

5 Responses

  1. Great article and conveys the importance of not rushing into becoming an instructor. Taking your time and gaining experience ultimately makes you better at whatever you do.

    As to not paying divemasters, while I’m guilt of this, it’s something that really needs to change in our industry. Divemasters are professionals who paid a lot of money for their specialized training and continue to pay yearly dues and liability insurance. They deserve to be paid for professional services rendered. Mechanics, plumbers, and electricians are all professionals with specialized training… when is the last time you had one work for free?

    • Polly Philipson

      Paul, I completely agree with you as to that Divemasters should be paid if they are conducting work. Personally, I have always been lucky enough to be paid throughout my career. However, all too often, we see Divemasters working their hearts out for no financial gain. When, as you rightly point out, it is a highly specialised service they provide.

      Thanks for your input on this discussion :-)

  2. I was a divemaster at a shop and it was not a good deal. Loads of free work by me. Owners promises not kept. Moral of the story ? No PAY. No Play.

  3. Jim

    I have been a Divemaster for 6 years. I have worked in the Carribean and for many years at a diveshop in BC Canada. I am proud to be a divemaster- I worked hard to get to that position. I assist Instructors in OW and other classes and I teach Discover Scubas and Scuba tuneups. I am paid for this work. The Course Director of the shop respects the DM position as does all Instructors- I am made to feel like a peer. I am a PADI pro and love it.
    By the way I became a DM at age 50.

    • Polly Philipson

      Jim – it is so nice to hear that you are fulfilled in your work! Aren’t we all very lucky to have a job that we love everyday :-)

      Divemasters are intrinsic to the dive industry and a great asset to any dive centre.

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