Rethinking Divemaster Training

To become a PADI Divemaster you are required to complete several prerequisites including being at least 18 years old, having completed Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, and Rescue Diver certifications, attaining at least five PADI specialties, and having a minimum of 40 logged dives before you can begin the course. By the end of the course you must have a minimum of 60 logged dives. Since I meet all of the prerequisites by attaining the Master Scuba Diver with 10 PADI specialties, and over 70 logged dives, I have already started my Divemaster Candidate (DMC) course and am working on completing all of the necessary internships and course requirements.

The other day while I was at our Hawaii Kai dive shop getting signed up to intern a couple of classes one of the instructors that I had for one of my classes a couple months ago asked me if I was ready to be a Divemaster. When I said yes, he walked away shaking his head. This has bothered me ever since, at the time making me very upset.

Another instructor stated that I needed to be signed off on setting up a dive site, to which I stated that I already had completed that part of the training the previous week and was already signed off on it with a near-perfect score (44/45 points). He asked where I did it and I told him on the North Shore on a shore dive and he said that doesn’t count because I did not have to tie off a boat at a mooring during the dive site setup, so he asked who the instructor was. When I told him that I chose to work with Michelle at the Scofield Barracks location because I knew her longer he said “isn’t she a new instructor?” smirking and walking away.

A DMC can work with ANY PADI Instructor on their course requirements, another reason I chose her is because she is a fairly new instructor, completing her Instructor Development Course at the beginning of this year. To become an instructor she had to perform all of the skill requirements that I am required to perform, all to demonstration quality as I have to perform them. So I knew that her demonstration quality skills would be sharper than an instructor that had to perform theirs years ago that may have become lax in their quality over the years. I also know that the examination is performed in front of PADI Instructors who are coming from the mainland and since she had recently performed hers in front of them, she may be able to give me some tips as to what they are looking for now that may help me with my testing.

The one that really ticked me off was when an instructor the other night said that he was worried that I was rushing through my training. This same instructor was taking his Divemaster training when I was taking my Rescue Diver course, and now not quite two months later he is already an Open Water Scuba Instructor! In the past month and a half he has completed Divemaster, Instructor Development Course (IDC), and this past weekend he completed the Instructor examination and is already teaching new students. PADI requires that a new instructor wait until they have received their certification and have it in-hand, which takes about a month, before they start teaching classes. Yet somehow the very next day after he finishes his testing he is teaching an Open Water Diver class, before PADI even has a chance to start processing his certification. The comment that I seem to be rushing my training, coming from him of all people, really got to me, I have almost as many dives in as he does.

Michelle made the comment last night that the Hawaii Kai shop is in one of the most challenging areas to operate a dive shop because of the strong currents that are there year round. That’s why I am grateful that almost all of my dives have been out of that dive shop. The South East Coast of Oahu has some ripping currents year round that we have to deal with, which is why we do so much drift diving down there. Almost all of my dive training has been in those currents, which I feel has made me a better diver and a better DMC.

I feel like I am being targeted and harassed because I chose to pay cash for my training myself instead of going through their “Hawaii Scuba University” (HSU) eight week course and letting the government pay for my Divemaster training which they would receive more money for. When I paid for my Divemaster course I was told that if I go through HSU for the course, it was a scheduled eight week course, and I would be required to meet at the Hickam shop two nights a week, but if I paid for it myself instead of letting the VA pay for it, I complete it on MY schedule, so that is what I chose to do. However after paying them the money, that’s not how it has been working out. I wanted to start my DMC course on April 3rd, right after receiving the Master Scuba Diver certification, however I kept getting put off every time I asked the instructors about how to get it started. I kept getting told that I had to wait until the next HSU class started, to which I would reply that I am not part of HSU and am not bound to their schedule and that I complete everything on my own schedule.

I was finally able to get the course started by taking it upon myself to ask Michelle to start working with me on the course and my internships because no one at the Hawaii Kai shop seemed to be interested in it. But even now I still run into problems with getting skills checked off because since I am not part of the HSU program and am doing it on my own schedule, I don’t have access to a pool for my skills. I will have to perform them out in the ocean and deal with surge and silt getting kicked up while I try to do the equipment exchange skill. I feel that I am clearly being discriminated against because I chose to pay for the class myself instead of letting the government pay a higher price for the exact same training.

With all of the flack that I have been getting this week from other instructors I am starting to rethink even becoming a Divemaster. If this is the type of person that I will become when I become an instructor, I don’t want any part of it. Right now, I have no interest in continuing with the training. As a DMC I dive for free for the next year, so I plan on using that benefit so that I do not have to pay for dives. As far as getting certified as a PADI Divemaster, I don’t think so.

As a Divemaster I would be required to carry additional professional liability insurance on top of what I already carry as a First Aid & CPR Instructor. I would have to pay an enormous fee to PADI every year just to stay active as a Divemaster. The chances of being hired as a Divemaster by one of the dive shops here is extremely remote because they all would rather hire Instructors who can teach more classes than a Divemaster can. Instructors here barely make more than minimum wage each year. After adding it all up, it doesn’t make financial sense for me to get certified as a Divemaster, so why bother with it.

On top of all of that I am tired of putting up with all the BS from some of the other instructors from Island Divers Hawaii. Several of the instructors from the Hawaii Kai shop have stated that they will not sign off on anything that you do once or twice as a DMC, you will have to do it multiple times before they will even consider signing off on it. This is not PADI’s procedures, and doesn’t make any sense to me. Once a person completes an internship, they should get graded on the internship, and if they receive a successful grade, the internship is complete. This doing the same internship over and over again, hoping that the instructor will finally be in the mood to grade you on it, one of these days, is complete hogwash.

Many other dive shops on the mainland and around the world offer the DMC course as an 8-DAY course. If I ever become interested in completing my Divemaster training again I will go to one of those shops to complete it, without all of the BS that comes along with it here. For now, I am fine with just keeping the Master Scuba Diver rating.

One response

  1. Have you spoken to Matt? (Owner) I take it you are military since you choose not to use your GI Bill. That being said I would speak to Matt give him this feed back I am sure he will take care of you as HSU and the “dive gear” package is new and he would not want any bad words stated by someone that can influence people that have the GI bill available to them. I completely understand where you are coming from as every time I go to Hawaii Kai it is TERRIBLE customer service.

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