Take a DM course locally or at a destination

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I appreciate the feedback. I’m under the impression that do complete an instructor course you must first complete DM, no?

If that’s true, do you mean find a program that lets you complete everything all in one go?

You make a good point with your question....PADI and SSI require divemaster certification or equivalent from another agency as a prerequisite for their instructor training certification programs, but a review of NAUI's instructor prereq's indicates one must be either an assistant instructor or divemaster....divemaster is not a prereq for NAUI assistant instructor.

But further to the point of your question...yes, if you believe you truly want to be an SCUBA instructor then enroll in an all-in-one program that caters to attaining that goal. It should prove more economical financially and/or from a time-investment perspective.

Do you think it's essential to do your DM with the shop you want to work for?
I don't know about essential but in our market most train and stay with one shop. The LDS's here put a lot of effort and resources into training (in my case I've never paid a penny beyond the Crew Pack purchase). So there is an expectation that you'll stay so the shop can benefit from that investment. There are also only three shops in our region and it's uncommon for DM's or instructors to switch shops.

I would imagine in larger markets people switch around often when earnings are an issue and raises are available... but no one up here is making a living as a DM or instructor (unless they also own the dove shop) so there isn't any reason to switch unless you end up hating the shop owners or other crew.
I did the local shop thing. At the time it was the only shop for a long ways. I was hired on to assist with courses and paid $300C for each OW course. I advise doing your DM where you want to (or expect to) work.
As with most education, you will probably find you learn more while actually on the job vs. during the course over the long haul. I can attest to that also as a retired teacher. Now there are a lot of things you have to know before working as a DM to begin with obviously, thus the course.
I’ve known a few folks in the Midwest who did their DM training tropical. Wanted to work at local shops, but they hadn’t done a ton of local diving and were really at a disadvantage.

If you want to DM locally, then do your training locally.

If your goal is to teach diving then skip the DM cert and enroll in instructor certification training. As a DM you will have lots of accountability with little reward. You will be expected to do manual labor for peanuts in compensation, and if you are given the "privilege" to help with classes, you will find that you are limited in what you can do/teach with student divers. If the ultimate goal is to teach diving, take advantage of the training pipelines that permit one to become an instructor without being a divemaster.

There is little about the divemaster program that makes one a "better" diver, and one does not need to be a divemaster to lead dives or be a more well rounded diver. Also, other than learning to demonstrate specific basic skills taught to new divers, there is little about the divemaster program that is about teaching....in fact, the PADI divemaster course is basically the instructor program minus the "how to teach/how to set up and control a class" aspect and all of its nuances.

You DM as an instructor, but not the other way around...and you are more versatile to a dive center with an instructor credential.

Don't waste your money or time unless your ego demands to hear you say you are a divemaster when the subject of certification comes up. There is a joke from the ski instructor world that applies equally to divemasters:

Q: How do you know who is a divemaster at the cocktail party?
A: Don't worry, they'll tell you!

Good luck with your diving endeavors, but seriously consider your goals and put yourself on a track that allows you to attain the credentials to support them.


This isn't entirely true for the NAUI DM. The NAUI DM can take on more responsibility including ability to teach some courses (u/w photo, spearfishing for example).
This isn't entirely true for the NAUI DM. The NAUI DM can take on more responsibility including ability to teach some courses (u/w photo, spearfishing for example).
And neither of those things require anyone to hold a cert card to do. So anyone can teach them if the person seeking training believes the person offering the training has enough experience to share….kind of like diving with a buddy who is shutterbug and is willing to share their knowledge….or going hunting with a more experienced person.

I can’t really comment too much on the value of the internship at a dive shop compared to getting it done in a few weeks. I didn’t do it for my DM as I didn’t have the time. Any extra experience is a good thing as long as it helps your development and you’re not free labour to them. But as Tom said, there is no substitute for learning on the job, actually leading paid customers.

DM, as other have pointed out, at least in PADI, is where you solidify the diving basics and pick up all your 24 demo skills for instructor. You won’t get taught any more diving skills after that; it becomes about class management, presentations, and feedback/evaluation. So you are good enough as a DM teach those skills, but frustratingly can’t. If you ultimately want to teach, DM will be a short stop before moving on to full instructor.

Your DM instructor should encourage a professional and supportive relationship between the two of you as you will (hopefully) become peers in the agency. You could end up working in the same shop.

A busy shop experienced in teaching DMs will hopefully give you ample opportunities to work with real students in a variety of courses, which is important. Talk to your local shops about your plans and ask about opportunities to be on staff, DM and eventually teach for them and what they would look for, what the job situation is like, and so on. Get that sense of what they’re going to be like because they might be your future employer.

At least acquire the specialties needed to teach in your area - drysuit is an absolute must around here and it’s hard to be that instructor who can’t take their students beyond the pool. Local site knowledge is also important to be able to keep your students safe or to select the right sites for the dive requirements. Having these localized skills will definitely make it easier to get a job compared to someone else who doesn’t. On the other hand these are not absolute showstoppers if you have other things a shop might want, like the right attitude, repair skills, boat driving skills, selling skills, web skills, etc.
I'd say stay local. My DM took over a year, but during that time I learned more about what to do (and what not to do) when I became an instructor.

Ask around locally, but I'd assume that most instructors wouldn't have a problem with having a DMC in the pool. The pool's where you will really get to work with students, one on one, who are having issues. That IMO is where you get the most out of DM training.

If you are working with big classes, you'll also have a lot of pool time to work on your own skills, while you hang out waiting to assist. You'll also have time to do some modeling of good dive skills - i.e. students, when they are waiting for someone else to do a skill, will often get bored and start looking around. If they see you doing something like a neutral hover, they will start to mimic you.
I have experience with both doing local training (DM and OWSI) and going to a training center for training (IDCS). I know that it goes against most of the recommendations here, but I recommend going to a lovely, warm water location and doing your training there. I really appreciated having concentrated time to do nothing but learn and dive. I did my IDCS at Rainbow Reef and got to work with/observe a wider variety of students/problems than I would have back at home. I also had nothing else to worry about - no job, no family, etc. This made for a great learning environment for me. I did my DM, AI, and OWSI through my local shop over about a year and half. I did gain valuable experience, but could have also gotten that experience after my training (and been compensated for it).

If you do the training center route, you will still have some learning to do with regards to local conditions and shop policies back at your local shop, but time will take care of that.


but a review of NAUI's instructor prereq's indicates one must be either an assistant instructor or divemaster....divemaster is not a prereq for NAUI assistant instructor.
That's because AI is before DM in Nauis progression.

For the OP, both options really are completely different classes. I would imagine about the only similarities are working on demo quality skills and however many briefs/debriefs/lectures you have to do. And all that depends on the cert agency, not the location.

Local, you'll get to know the regional locations, work with instructors at the shop, learn more of the shop oriented processes, lear how to be a good class DM, and it'll take a while. This could be great, or it could be crap, depending on the instructor and what the shop has to offer in terms of curriculum.

Go someplace tropical, and you'll be doing nothing but training, you'll assist with a lot more classes in a much shorter period of time, learn boat diving operations and how tropical resorts work, and how to act as a dive guide. This could also be great or crap, depending on the instructor and shop, and how much pretend assisting you do vs real assisting.

I would recommend training where you want to end up. And pick an agency you want to be part of. You can certainly switch between DM and instructor, but it'll definitely put you at a disadvantage for class.

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