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Becoming a PADI DM - The Blog!

Discussion in 'Going Pro' started by Diving Dubai, Dec 17, 2016.

  1. Diving Dubai

    Diving Dubai Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dubai UAE
    3,116
    2,814
    113
    Part 1
    The introduction


    Lots of people request information of becoming a DM, these people have varying degrees of diving experience, are of a wide variety of ages, and have all sorts of reasons.

    In this thread I will chart my progression through the course, what’s involved and my experiences, my successes and failures. Hopefully it’ll be both informative and entertaining and a worthwhile read for those looking to take the course in the future.

    I guess a bit about me. I’m not a wide eyed 20 something new to diving – I wish I was. In fact I’m a newly turned 50 and slightly cynical with age :)


    I started diving in 2007 – getting my OW in the Red sea. I completed my AOW in 2011 but that was that. When I arrived in the UAE mid 2012 I had a mere 21 dives to my name. I joined a dive club in Dubai, while it was a BSAC club welcomed divers from other agencies. In the nearly 4 years since joining I’ve boosted my dive count to a hair under 400 (at the time of writing). Along the way I took my Rescue course – because I thought it was prudent given we dive remotely on club dives so are generally more self- sufficient than others might be.

    And that was as far as I thought I’d go, in my mind I had no reason to progress as I was happy diving. I was encouraged at the beginning of 2016 along with my wife, to complete the BSAC Dive Leader course. It’s an equivalent qualification to PADI DM, but with significant differences. The BSAC DL is more focused on planning and managing groups of club divers to sites known to the club, planning, and arranging all logistics for the days diving etc as well as managing the diving for the day(s).

    There is no content on teaching. Having completed the DL, a couple of things happened that made me wish to become and instructor. To this point there’d been no desire on my part to do so.

    Circumstances at work meant that I couldn’t accommodate the BSAC Open water instruction course, so that’s on hold for a while until the next course.

    So why then PADI DM? As good as BSAC is, to be able to work in the commercial field then you need a commercial qualification. Also the PADI DM course teaches you different skills and these all read across (just as my BSAC skills do). The DM is only a stepping stone and I’ve already announced my intention to move quickly into the Instructor course. PADI is the most convenient agency and I know that if I need to in the future I can cross over.


    But let’s not put the cart in-front of the horse…


    Happy to answer any questions as I go through….



    Diving Dubai
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2016
  2. Diving Dubai

    Diving Dubai Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dubai UAE
    3,116
    2,814
    113
    Part 2
    Choosing a location and Instructor

    In my previous post, I wrote that the PADI Route was the most convenient. Simply put, all the potential dive shops locally are PADI affiliated.

    When first considering the course, I did think of shooting off to somewhere more tropical. I live in Dubai, so am used to year round warm water diving, but a change of scene would have been nice. Roatan was up there on my list, and why not? @Bay Island Diver gave me some great advice and insights as to what was involved.

    While 12 weeks on a tropical Island was more than tempting and doable, it was the tone with which my wife said …. “Sure, of course you can go. I don’t mind”
    which meant that I quietly dropped that subject!

    So Local shops it was then. Fortunately, I have choice. There are 3 dive centres within easy reach of me (15 mins drive) all dive on the Dubai coast, all have operations on the East coast of the UAE, about an hour’s drive away.

    I had knowledge and experience of all 3 centres, but still asked around. I also took advice from other people I knew and respected. Although I was pretty sure which one I would go with, I popped in for a visit during a quiet time and sat down for a chat.

    Giving me a coffee was obviously a good start, but they went through the course in detail explaining lots of the detail and chatted generally. I got the impression that if they felt I wasn’t experienced they would have guided me away. There was no pressure to sign up. You get a good feel for these things.

    For every upside, there is a downside. While I will get really good 1 on 1 with the instructors, and because its local to me I can do the course around my schedule etc, there clearly is benefits to taking an internship with others going through the course at the same time. You get to live and learn together, go off and work at your skills in a group and the like, and of course have a great time on a tropical island.

    But don’t believe all the hype. Ask around, do your research, not all centres are equal. Making quick scan of centres around the world and reading their websites, all claim to be the best and offer everything you want. I’m sure this is not the case.

    For me personally it’s not about just getting the card. I want to be challenged and actually learn things. So, for me the minimum won’t do. My skills I can do, but they’re not pretty and certainly not demonstration quality. Being customer focused and not being grumpy until I’ve had a few coffees might be another. Who knows what else.

    The Journey begins…

    Diving Dubai
     
  3. Erich S

    Erich S Nassau Grouper

    198
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    I look forward to reading your blog on your quest to become an instructor. From what I understand, PADI is the best way to go if you want to more easily find a job in the field.
     
  4. Diving Dubai

    Diving Dubai Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dubai UAE
    3,116
    2,814
    113
    Thanks. More to come soon.

    Regarding PADI, I think it's a good stepping stone, as you can easily cross over to other agencies depending on your ambition, location and desires. It's sometimes harder to go the other way
     
  5. Diving Dubai

    Diving Dubai Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dubai UAE
    3,116
    2,814
    113
    Part 3

    Theory
    4 months since my last post... Opps.

    I took the E learning option. I'm not sure whether I'd recommend this to others. It all depends on your choices.

    The Positive, is that you get to do it in your own time at home. If you're taking time off for the practical side of course this makes sense. However while not onerous (in that a lot of the theory should be just a refresher) there is a lot of it to sit through. I found myself glazing over and drifting off many times.

    If you have chosen to attend a course over an extended period with other candidates, then I'd be inclined to work through the theory along side others on the course. It will make it more enjoyable for sure, but it does mean you'll have to fit in the study during your course.

    The main reason it took so long for this part, is that I lost interest and thus motivation. Hours spent in front of a computer listening to voices "drone on" wasn't really for me. In the end I contacted my Instructor and asked if I could start the practical sessions without having finished all the theory. Getting into the water albeit the pool was the boost I needed.

    The final exams is two parts. Part 1 is mainly on the standards (part of your crew pack) and is open book - you can refer to the standards to find the answer. However there is some dive theory

    Part 2 contains the rest of the theory

    Neither exam is too difficult, depending on your experience.

    I didn't max the exams (93% combined average) the answers I got wrong were me stupidly NOT reading the question. One in particular asked to calculate the PP of nitrogen not oxygen. The fact that the answers didn't add up still didn't ring alarm bells in my head.

    READ THE QUESTIONS CAREFULLY.

    If like me you haven't used a table since you qualified (10 years in my case) Get them out and refresh yourself, if need be get your instructor to go over them with you. There are some questions, and some are linked, so if you get the first answer wrong, you'll get the others wrong too.

    If like me you've never seen the PADI eRDP, get them to go over that too. It's really simple to use as long as you know which buttons to press...

    I managed to get through the exams just on the e-learning and without having to open the Encyclopedia of recreational diving. However as mentioned above I'd already completed the BSAC course, so I had done a great deal of theory for that.


    One funny side. I forgot my reading glasses. and so provided great entertainment to others by having to have the Large demonstration RDP because I couldn't read the normal size table...
     
    Hoag and stuartv like this.
  6. stuartv

    stuartv Seeking the Light

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Manassas, VA
    8,096
    3,732
    113
    Hilarious! I could see myself doing that. I'm doing the SDI DM program right now. The book has tables printed in it in a very small size. I couldn't make it out even with my glasses on. I resorted to pulling out my phone, turning on the camera with about 1.5x zoom, and holding it over the tables to read them.

    Something that I thought was interesting was when I was talking to my two different LDSs, trying to decide who to do my DM training with. Both of them told me the same thing.

    They used to do the "traditional" DM training, where it would take months and the DM Candidate would do a fair amount of schlepping tanks, etc.. They have both changed fairly recently. Now, they both train the DM to meet the course requirements, per standards, and that's it. It's a much quicker process to become a certified DM via either shop now.

    One shop told me that the reason is that they recognized that people don't necessarily want to be a DM for their shop. They just want the DM cert and then go off to do their own thing. So, spending all that time training them on how their own shop works and how to be a DM for THEIR shop just didn't make sense. They would spend a lot of time training the person with no benefit to the shop - and for the same price of tuition. Now, if the person finishes their DM cert and wants to be a DM for that shop - and the shop wants them also - then they go through an extended period of training to learn the things they need to know to actually work for that shop - but they are already certified as an actual DM while they do it.

    The other shop said something similar. They said they cannot add anyone to the shop's insurance unless the person is a certified dive professional. So, now, a person does the DM training to meet the standards and then gets their DM cert. At that point, the shop may or may not invite the person to be a DM for the shop. If they do become a DM for the shop, then they get added to the shop's insurance. At that point, they continue training to learn the ropes of that shop. For that shop, the issue was wanting to minimize the time that a person was doing DM (or DM-like) tasks for the shop without being covered by the shop's insurance.
     
  7. Diving Dubai

    Diving Dubai Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dubai UAE
    3,116
    2,814
    113
    Lol Been there, done that too. Old age. Sucks, right?

    Interesting subject from the rest of your post. Of all the shops I contacted, all said I could complete the DM course in around 10 days. As long as you have the dive requirement None of this Intern rubbish

    Now I've chosen to extend mine as I have the time (being a consultant & working for myself) to get more practical learning experience, especially dealing with "commercial divers" on the boat, given that most of my previous DM experience is with BSAC divers, who because they have many 100's of dives are generally more competent

    When we do go out on the boat, yes I schlep tanks, as do the instructors and teh Shop manager. Everyone does the same. There is no durge intern work. I wash the instructors kit if they're dealing with customers, they'll wash mine if I'm doing something.

    I can observe students in the pool and practice skills, but I can't DM - i.e supervise obviously because I'm not qualified.

    I get to guide because I'm already qualified by a different agency. I'm a licensed boat helmsmen so I get to run the boat sometimes and am teaching my instructors basic boat handling, so if their boat captain keels over at least they can get the boat home and moored. Interesting role reversal.
     
  8. stuartv

    stuartv Seeking the Light

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Manassas, VA
    8,096
    3,732
    113
    By commercial diver's, I think you do not mean divers who do welding underwater.

    Do you mean ordinary vacation resort type divers?
     
  9. stuartv

    stuartv Seeking the Light

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Manassas, VA
    8,096
    3,732
    113
    That's a fact, Jack!!

    That seems to be a grey area. It seems like it's pretty common that shops around here, especially ones that do the longer, more traditional, DM program, use the DM candidates in ways that, strictly speaking should only be done by an actual certified DM or higher. For example, an instructor might demonstrate a skill and end up having a DM Candidate work directly with a student that was having trouble with it while the instructor proceeds working with the rest of the class (for example, evaluating the other people in the class while the DMC works directly with the one having trouble). Or, have a DMC stay on the surface with some students while the instructor descends to do skills with a subset of the class.

    So, where are you in your progression? Are you going to knock out your 10 days and then extend for more of an education? Or are you deferring completing all the requirements and getting a DM card until you are satisfied with your extended education?

    I am knocking my SDI DM stuff out as quickly as possible. My extended education will be in the form of interning with my tech instructor as his DMC for tech classes, to eventually get my TDI DM cert, so I can officially assist him with tech classes - and lead tech trips.
     
  10. Diving Dubai

    Diving Dubai Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dubai UAE
    3,116
    2,814
    113
    All I've got left is to polish the skills circuit. I'm okay, but I need to just get that extra 20% of refinement and keeping perfectly neutral in a pool that's only 8' deep. While I can hold a stop in the blue with little deviation (+/-0.3m), learning to be almost motionless in the pool while demonstrating skills is a bit more of a challenge. All the boat work and guiding has been a doddle as it should be as I've been doing it within BSAC for a while.

    To be fair PADI DM for me is a stepping stone to the Instructor course (my IE is in Aug) so the more I can perfect now, the easier the IE will be.

    BSAC Dive leader is a much better course for running dives. A PADI DM basically goes out on a boat run by the captain with a group of divers booked in on the trip.

    Whereas a BSAC dive leader, manages the complete dive including site choices base on the conditions, currents and the capabilities on board and indeed deciding if people are capable of going on that trip (if using a club boat rather than a charter) because club diving is more self sufficient.

    The two courses while having very different focus (with some overlap) do compliment each other very well.
     
    wetb4igetinthewater likes this.

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