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How old to become a viable scuba instructor?

Discussion in 'Advanced Scuba Discussions' started by InTheDrink, Jun 1, 2019.

  1. Marie13

    Marie13 Great Lakes Mermaid ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Great Lakes
    6,047
    4,399
    113
    Regardless of age, you’d be a much better candidate to be an instructor with your number of dives rather than the zero to hero stuff I run into online all the time. One of my OW/Advanced/Rescue instructors has been diving since the late 1980s and only became an a instructor about 5 years ago in her early 50s.
     
    racanichou and InTheDrink like this.
  2. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    12,319
    2,709
    113
    Quick answer from a retired DM with only 4 years experience assisting. Age can be a factor, I guess, though physical fitness more so. Career change? Except for the blessed few instructors, I don't equate dive pro with career-- at least pay-wise.
     
    BlueTrin likes this.
  3. Jcp2

    Jcp2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    650
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    I had an instructor that retired to Florida, dove quite a bit, then became an instructor more for her own fun and interest as opposed to making a real income.
     
    InTheDrink likes this.
  4. Frosty

    Frosty Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Auckland NZ
    1,265
    425
    83
    IMO looking a bit more mature is a HUGE advantage when it comes to dealing with students/customers. Its a funny thing but you do seem to get given respect easier/quicker than the younger guys and gals. But as others have said you are not going to get rich on instructor wages.
     
    InTheDrink likes this.
  5. InTheDrink

    InTheDrink DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: UK, South Coast
    2,160
    349
    83
    Thanks everyone for the extremely helpful - and heartening - replies.

    Money isn’t the objective I can survive just fine counting blades of grass or going on holidays every other month.

    It’s just that diving is my passion, have DM’d and assisted, dealt with more than one panicked diver at the same time (one heading down, one heading up - naturally ) and plenty of other individual panicked divers with no poor outcomes.

    I’ve also really enjoyed helping assisting OWs, particularly with the ones that struggle.

    And I’d probably do it in a more pleasant and cheaper climate than the UK. I’d start for a few years in the UK but then would look at México or Egypt or similar and freelance so wouldn’t be totally tied to an operation and could head off to Cocos/Aoccorro/South Africa etc when I fancied.

    In any event, thanks for the very encouraging responses. Funny as you head towards 50 you wonder what use you have in comparison to youngsters but some of the comments made me reflect on when I was a newbie and my buddy had a panick attack at 37m. Our DM was lovely but 65 dives to his name and was going to inflate my buddy’s bc and send him to the surface (whereupon the news I would likely have had to deliver his mother would have been unpleasant at best). Thankfully it didn’t come to that.

    I think about this scenario now and I would be very surprised if I couldn’t deal with it calmly. I’ve got panicked divers that ran up a load of accidental deco to the surface without any problems, no deco and a good 3 bar to spare

    It’s easy to forget that experience does count.

    I’ve also done some pretty stupid things diving but never when guiding.

    Thanks,
    John
     
  6. Diving Dubai

    Diving Dubai Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dubai UAE
    3,280
    3,117
    113
    Some more food for thought John.

    I can give you the names of a couple of British CD's in tropical destinations whom I respect

    Be wary of "Instructor factories" Passing IE is easy - it's mainly self induced pressure that fails people (or lack of theory knowledge practice) Be especially suspect of those places which guarantee you getting the 25 certs needed for MSDT post course in say 2 weeks. You'll do nothing but team teach, and make teh last dive of teh course to grab the certs. You'll have 25 certs but still have learnt nothing about teaching.

    Full time teaching in certain areas is a killer, burn out is high - 6 days a week.
    If you want to become IDC Staff and Staff IDC courses, then you'll need to be somewhere that does a lot of IDC's same with MI - you need to be on a shop that does a lot of certs

    If you land a job in say the Maldives, or on a LoB, you'll end up teaching mainly AoW, Nitrox and lots of fish ID :wink: But you will get a ton of guiding. That said after a year the reefs become one

    Often shops give priority to instructors they've trained. Otherwise you need to be walking the strip at a location. Unless you have a great network where the best jobs come by word of mouth

    It may appeal to you to take vacation at a location, see if you like the spot and teh dive centres, then extend your stay diving and job hunting.

    Any help I can give you , please don't hesitate to PM. Good luck!
     
  7. hilljo88

    hilljo88 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: nyc
    429
    264
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    My 2 cents:

    As others have said, age isn’t the issue, it’s health, fitness, attitude and training.

    Instructor cert is fine for teaching locally, but your chances of catching on at a resort are vastly improved if you have a boat captain’s license, are a diesel mechanic or web site “master”. Preferably all 3!
     
    InTheDrink likes this.
  8. InTheDrink

    InTheDrink DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: UK, South Coast
    2,160
    349
    83
    Well I can do Web sites. Spent 20+ years running software companies and altho haven’t programmed for a fair while getting an Op’s Website into good responsive order wouldn’t be an issue and it is pretty obvious most of their online presences leave a little to desire.

    Captain’s licence I could probably manage although don’t know what it entails.

    Diesel mechanic, I don’t see that happening but who knows.

    @Diving Dubai - I am in no rush. Would prefer to spend a year learning and be a good instructor rather than a factory one.

    I’ve seen staff instructors that I was surprised were more than AOW.

    That said, most I’ve come across have been superb (mainly liveaboards) and whilst I would never achieve their level of excellence that is what I would be trying to emulate.

    Thanks,
    John
     
  9. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba

    0
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    John,

    In principle I think being older has some distinct advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is life experience. The main disadvantage is physical endurance and looking older, which some employers won't want. Can you do it at that age? Yes. Should you want to? No so sure.

    I think the answer to this question depends on two parameters:

    1) what do you mean by "instructor" and
    2) what do you mean by "career"

    I taught scuba diving for quite a while (15 years in the industry) and recently stopped at the age of 52. In my case I gave lessons part time as a "hobby job" in addition to a 40-50 hour work schedule at my day job. Initially I really liked the "down time" because diving is relaxing to me and giving lessons was a way to structure getting relaxation every week and to pay forward in the hobby that in some ways defines me as a person.

    .... There came a point, however, at which I was doing most of the OW courses for the shop I was working for. There were a lot of students, a lot of trying to get things done in the hours and days that I had available and a lot of weekends "working". That's what ended it for me. I started seeing diving as "work" so instead of working 40-50 hours a week I was working 60-70 hours a week with no downtime at all. This is probably something that a lot of "hobby" instructors can relate to. In short, I got burned out.

    The same thing can happen to you working in a resort. A good friend of mine did stints working in Thailand during the high season and needed a "vacation" when the season ended. He is older than me but the amount of physical effort involved in diving multiple times almost every day is something that you can handle for a matter of weeks but only with difficulty for a matter of months unless you are VERY fit for your age.

    I'm saying this to illustrate that there are differences in what people mean when they say "instructor". I think what you are suggesting is what my buddy did as opposed to how I did it. I know for a fact that even with 15 years of experience I would have trouble keeping up with the tempo in a resort setting. Part time... sure... but only then if I was also working my day-job part time.

    As for the understanding of a "career". A career is both a vocation and a source of income. As a vocation you can certainly become a pro at your age. If, however, you intend to be paid even minimum wage per hour for your efforts then working as a part time instructor isn't realistic at all and working at a resort will probably require severe changes to your life style. If you have anyone who is financially dependent upon you and you need an income in order to fulfill those commitments then becoming a scuba instructor is unwise, in my opinion. Taking a minimum wage job at McDonalds pays you more money than the vast majority of scuba professionals make in practice.

    R..
     
  10. InTheDrink

    InTheDrink DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: UK, South Coast
    2,160
    349
    83
    Hey Diver0001,

    I’ve never read a word from you that you I didn’t think unwise.

    You are well adept at understanding the nuances between instructor, guide, resort, etc.

    I don’t need money any more. I have been very lucky that way from a company I started that went and is going well. So income isn’t really the issue altho a few quid here and there never hurts. Even for a coffee or a meal. I have dependents but that’s looked after already. No-one is going to go hungry unless I get a serious meth habit. Which I’m too old and bored to.

    I’m looking for something that makes me happy in life. I’m naturally an optimist. I’m also a jack of all trades master of none.

    I have time. Arguably too much time. I love diving and don’t need to make money from it altho bed and board wouldn’t hurt.

    I just have been wondering whether I’m too old to be useful or now, whether these wrinkles, dead friends, tricky situations are an asset or a black mark.

    From the responses I’ve had - including yours - it doesn’t sound like I’m past my shelf life as a diver/guide/teacher. And money is the last thing that comes into it.

    It’s about happiness and meaningfulness. Can I contribute or will I just be a drag.

    From responses so far it seems like I may have a little to offer whilst doing the only thing I can think of that makes me happy.

    Just wanted a take on whether anyone would take me on. I think I got my answer to that.

    Thanks,
    John
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.

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