Becoming a Divemaster: 4 Truths You Should Know Before You Start
Each year many people take their first breath underwater. Most of them are fascinated by the stunning underwater world and the thrilling ability to perform something humans are not born to. Some people even become hooked on the sport. At some point these divers may decide to continue their diving career with an advanced qualification by immersing themselves into certain diving techniques or becoming experts in specific fields of diving.
However, are you one of the people, whom the advanced qualification is simply not enough? You’re interested in learning more about the secret of diving and literally diving deeper into the incredible world underwater? You are willing to take responsibility and would like to show fellow divers what it’s like to see what you see? You want to be able to help yourself and others in an emergency? You simply want to be the scuba guide that people trust? If yes, you may want to consider obtaining your Divemaster, a qualification of a lifetime that gives you many cool advantages, which you’ll read about later in this post.
Just like many other passionate travelers and enthusiastic divers, I had been dreaming of working in a dive center, becoming a Divemaster and going diving every day for a very long time. In this post I am going to share with you what becoming a Divemaster entails based on my own experiences and why there is more to it than just working in paradise.
The art of mastering the Divemaster workload
It won’t take long until you realize that being a Divemaster requires you to do way more than simply taking guests for two or three fun dives every day. My total working hours were between 50-60 hours / week. Depending on your contract (if there is actually a proper contract), there are usually two work components to be distinguished: dive days on the boat and office days.
Usually I went diving with guests around 3-4 times a week. During these dive trips I was responsible for the guests’ safety and guidance on board and in the water. I took care of dive planning, conducted dive briefings and prepared the equipment before the trips. Back at the dive center it was my job to help customers fill in their logbooks, give them dive information and make sure that they leave the dive shop satisfied.
Three days a week I was on office duty, which required me to start at 8am and finish after the dive shop closes at 8pm. Normally, most customers are acquired between 4-8pm, so it is vital to have the shop stay open in the evening. While in the office I was also responsible for social media and website maintenance and usually had to catch up on dive-related administrative work, such as diver registration, replying to info-account emails, negotiate corporations with local resorts, accounting activities, etc.
Four Pros and Cons of becoming a Divemaster
Benefits of becoming a Divemaster
1. In my opinion, the main benefit of working as a Divemaster is that most of the time it actually doesn’t feel like work. To me the two work components felt like an amazing balance that I’d never experienced in another job before. Diving was the practical part that recharged my batteries when I was tired of the office duties. And it worked the other way round as well; catching up on work in the office sort of helped me relax after a couple of days diving in a row, which, despite the fun, may be quite exhausting, too.
2. Another amazing benefit of this job is the fact that you can travel around the world and work in pretty much any dive shop. While staying abroad, you’ll be able to go on short trips and explore even more places when you have a few days off. You get to meet locals and other tourists, you learn about new cultures and perhaps pick up a couple of words in a new language.
3. Working as a Divemaster is a great way to get free dives and thereby increase the number of dives in your personal logbook. If you already have 150+ dives, this benefit might not be of importance to you. However, if you have less than 100 dives, it certainly helps you to get on that one liveaboard trip you’ve always wanted to go or dive a dive site where only experienced divers with a minimum of 100 logged dives are allowed.
4. Of course work compensation (money or accommodation; depending on what you agree on with your dive center) is another benefit worth mentioning. However, you have to keep in mind that you’ll very likely not become rich by working as a Divemaster. This job is not about money, but about loving what you do.
Disadvantages of becoming a Divemaster
1. Working hours as well as the work load can be quite tough, especially if administrative work is not your cup of tea or you need a lot of time to relax after a full day of diving. Sometimes working as a Divemaster can be physically demanding (e.g. you have to carry tanks several times a day). Also keep in mind that you’ll have to use your free time to familiarize yourself with the Divemaster book and study for the theoretical exam. The practical exercises you will have to complete may be included in the dive days depending on the customer situation and your instructor.
2. As I’ve already mentioned, monetary compensation is very likely going to be a local salary, which in some third-world countries may be as low as $ 10-20 / day. With this amount of money, you’ll be able to buy accommodation and food, but that’s about it.
3. The Divemaster training is quite expensive, though most people forget that once finished you actually have completed a professional training and may work in that position for the rest of your life.
4. The training conditions are the hardest part I guess: you’ll be working in a team (mostly the same team day in, day out); you’ll have to adjust to working conditions and colleagues; you’ll be given more responsibility step by step; you’ll get criticized and despite working so hard, you’ll now and then be treated like an intern; especially as a woman it’ll be hard sometimes as being a Divemaster is still regarded as a man’s job by many people.
Requirements of becoming a Divemaster:
- 18 years
- At least 40 logged dives at the beginning of the course
- Rescue Diver and Emergency First Responder qualifications
- A medical statement signed by a physician within the last 12 months
Soft Skills: (optional)
- Language skills (preferably more than one language)
- Good communication skills (you have to be able to communicate on all levels, that meaning customers, difficult customers ;), colleagues)
- Extroversion (you have to be able to “sell” diving activities to potential customers)
- Good adjustment skills (you have to be able to adjust to changing working conditions and different customers quickly)
- Flexibility (in diving there may always be unforeseen circumstances and problems that you have to deal with)
- Confidence (you have to be able to take decisions and responsibility for other people)
- Fitness (you have to have endurance and the ability to control your breath and body)
- Organization (you have to be able to work in an organized and structured manner, e.g. in dive briefings)
- Calmness (it’s vital that you’re able to stay calm in emergency situations)
Obviously, all my experiences are subjective. You may have completely different experiences becoming a Divemaster. However, be prepared: this course will challenge you in one way or another! If you are a true dive geek and ready to take the plunge of obtaining your Divemaster qualification, this is a pretty good step-by-step guide that will help you find the perfect dive center to work with.
Fun Facts from my Divemaster training:
# I’ve never seen that many people puke than during my DM training (because of sea sickness mostly)
# During my training I’ve fallen in love with pufferfish
# I’ve learned quite a number of underwater pranks (close tank of buddy, steal fins,…)