10 Misconceptions about Becoming a Dive Instructor

Like most industries and job titles, there are preconceptions, labels, beliefs, and being a Scuba Diving Instructor is no exception. This job title is outdoors, sports-orientated and downright exciting, therefore the expectations (and misconceptions) seem higher, in fact:  

Most people when asked to describe their image of a dive instructor may say things like:

  • Guys have a 6-pack and are models for boardshorts companies.
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    by Kathy Schmidt
  • Girls are a size 2 and look simply scintillating, bond girl-ish even, in their skin-tight wetsuits.
  • Blonde hair and blue eyes.
  • Australian accent (or something exotic).
  • Laid back and chilled out.
  • As fit as an Olympian.
  • Tanned.
  • Lean.
  • Able to somersault off the back of a boat while simultaneously saving the ocean by freeing a whale from a drift net.
  • Most importantly they are the epitome of “COOL”

For me, that was always a major reason not to pursue becoming a dive instructor or entering into any sort of dive profession. As crazy as it sounds, it is true, Dive Instructors are COOL. Forget the cheerleaders or the jocks, being a Dive Instructor just defines being cool, in the simplest of terms.  At least that is how my brain worked, then again I did win a trophy for service to the high school library… It took a major upheaval in my life (read all about it here) and the encouragement of a good friend, who became my Divemaster Instructor, to turn me towards the life of a PADI Pro in Thailand. Sometimes, one needs a little upheaval to see the door opening…

After my Divemaster course, I worked on the cruise ships as a social hostess for 2yrs, constantly dreaming of Thailand and diving. Then a little bird whispered in my ear that her husband, and good friend of mine, was becoming a course director and I should become an instructor. Well since the door was already open, I decided what the heck, may as well give it a shot. But it wasn’t easy!

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Doing the Instructor Development course with Neil and Scuba Futures, I doubted myself constantly, what was I thinking, why was I here, there is no way I could actually be one of these elite dive professionals… even being a world traveler, seeing and doing way more than most, I still never considered myself cool! Then I passed the exam, I cried, I felt like I was going to throw up and I realised I was part of the tribe, I had become COOL.

So I am here to break that image, to encourage all those who think they are not cool enough, that they do not fit into the Dive Instructor profile, that in fact they are or can become all of the above. Hell, looking at the above list the closest I come is blonde hair and blue eyes, possibly the tanned bit. I am 5ft tall, have bit of a middle and thunder-thighs. If I put on a wetsuit I look a little like an overstuffed burrito, luckily I am working in a place where I don’t need one and besides now I am COOL, so it doesn’t matter.  

Of course you do have a responsibility to keep yourself fit enough to deal with less than perfect dive conditions or any (highly unlikely) rescue scenarios, but you don’t have to wait until you fit the body profile of a scuba pin-up. Not forgetting that diving has a way of sneaking up on your body, suddenly the board shorts start slipping down your waist and you need to tie them tighter. Biceps seem to appear out of nowhere and lifting with your knees seems like a breeze, as you develop the skin tone of a healthy human being with sun-kissed hair. While I might never be a size 2 bond girl, my fitness increased steadily throughout my training and I can feel and see a leaner me….

So come on down, train with Scuba Futures, break the mold, join the club, and become cool- no matter what size or shape you are.

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