Inside the dream business
It sounds too good to be real: You work at the ocean, go diving every day and make your money with this. Fun, party, hanging around a the beach...
But wait. If you just listen for a moment to those who work in diving, you will realize very soon that this is not how things work. If you want to earn something resembling a decent salary (decent for the place where you work, not compared with what you could make at home), you work hard, long hours, have lots of skills apart from being fun and knowing the way under water, and make a lot of bad experiences until you find out how to find the proper place to work. And very likely, on an average evening you are just too tired to party at the beach....
Does this mean becoming a Dive Pro is a bad idea? Not at all. It just means you will find a better way through your training and carreer if you know what you want, and know what you can expect. Just as most divers stop after doing just the Open Water course, most Pros are not actively teaching anymore after less than a year. A lot of them are terrible disappointed, sold a kidney to afford their training and never made it into a job. Some are happy about being what they wanted: A Dive Pro who earns his money in a "normal" job and does diving still as a hobby. And some find their place in the diving industry.
Becoming a Divemaster
The Divemaster course can be the entry point to a career in diving, or something you want for yourself. You might just like to help people, to be a leader, to share the things that fascinate you, and then becoming a Divemaster is a good thing to do. Or you really want to work in divng, then it is an important step towards the instructor level.
Which is the best way for your will depend on what you really want. As the key to get into the diving business is experience, a long internship might be the best possibility to get a foot in the door and make contacts. But if you have a normal job, you will be better off doing the Divemaster in a long holiday.
Internship or paid course?
There are lots of offers ranging from a normal paid course, a internship you pay for, and "free" internships. The internships provoce usually a lot of discussions: Is it ok that a diver wants his divemaster "for free", in exchange for work, or should he pay for quality instruction? And, the other way round: Is it ok to use trainees as cheap labour, having them working in the shop in exchange for their training?
As always, it depends on the conditions. In general, taking as much time as possible to become a Divemaster is a good idea, and working in a dive center gives you a lot of experience. But, for sure: as long as you are in training, you are not a Pro yet, so the work you can do is unqualified and very low paid. This is why at places where labour is cheap, it is nearly impossible to get a free internship. And in places where labour is expensive, explotation is likely to be a part of the deal. In some centers, Interns guide divers and even lead try dives - things they definitly should not do before being qualified for it. Or they never get to the water and are just cleaning and filling tanks. You should check clearly what the conditions are, to avoid bitter surprises.
On the other hand, you can not expect too much. Even if it feels like you are working the whole day: Remember that most of the time you are training. When you dive, you are not working, when you study, you are not working. Be honest in calculating the hours you really do work that is useful for the center....
No center in the world will give away training for free. If you don't pay in cash, you pay with your work, counted as cheap work. The more a center offers you, the more they want to get from you, and the less time you will have for your training.
Divemaster at La Palma Diving
As there are a lot of people with no money but a lot of time, "free" internships are a real oportunity. We do offer this to two or three candidates a year - this is what we need. We will chose the candidats that have time in the month we need two more hands, fit in our team, speak languages we need, and give us the impression they really want to work in the business and are willing to work their way up. With this deal, you will be in the water a lot - 30-40 dives a month, more if you get yourself organized for diving with local buddies - but we decide which dives make sense. This means, you are wherever we think you can learn most or later be useful as a backup-guide. And for sure, you will have to stay in the shop while everyone else is diving, when we need someone here, fill the tanks, clean the center, do just all the work we have. As a part of the team, not as a slave, that's promised. You pay with your work through about half a year for a lot of training and a lot of dives, and once you finish, you will be absolutely employable. If we need someone, you will be the first we ask.
For those who do not have an infinite amount of time, don't want to do the cheap work, want to enjoy their time after the dives, it is a better idea to pay for the courses and recieve good training without other obligations than paying. As we still want you to gain the experience you want, in all our Pro packages we offer unlimited diving. You can come to La Palma, stay as long as you want, come to the Divecenter the days you want to go diving and do your courses. After the dives, you hang around at the beach, while we fill the tanks - you are a guest.
For sure, there are lots of training agencies, and most of them are good. From the point of view as a student, it does not matter at all which agency appears on your certification, all you need is a good instructor. And you can mix certifications from an much agencies as you want, just train whatever you want to learn with any good instructor.
As a Dive Pro, or a Dive Center, the decision is a bit more complicated.
First of all, you need to check which training philosophy matches with your ideas about good diver training. Can I do the course the way I want? Does the advanced training match with my possibilities? Do I get proper training materials?
And then, you will need to see which job opportunities you have. Some really small agencies might be beautiful, but you just have no chance to find jobs in the whole world. Therefore, most Pros decide to get the instructor ration of at least one of the bis agencies, and probably have the small one as an extra.
As a Center, the first question is: Do I get all the training material I need at the place where I am, in the languages I need? How good is the support if I need any help with my sales strategy, any legal support, have a question about any standard? And, last but not least: How expensive is it?
10 reasons to affiliate with SSI
Become a part of the SSI family
Sounds good? For lots of divecenters, becoming an SSI Center has proven to be a good way to improve your business. As SSI recognizes training and experience from other agencies, it is easy to do a Crossover in two days, and start using all the advantages of SSI inmediately.
If you are interested, just let me know - you can visit La Palma and include a short holiday, or invite me to do the Crossover with you in your center. You will see: In less than a year, the costs for the Crossover are back in your pockets :-)