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the truth about DM's

Discussion in 'Going Pro' started by tenacious, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    12,107
    2,608
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    Can't disagree here. DMs here only get paid $5 per diver on charters (think tipping is unusual here), but they are certified divers, and at least the DM gets to do some real diving without paying, despite having responsibilities. Assisting with classes with student divers that have all sorts of problems and diving in 20' at a training block keeping an eye on students in usually poor viz, is a different story. Plus all the pool work.

    ---------- Post added December 7th, 2013 at 02:17 PM ----------

    Agree here also. If shops charged a lot more for classes and paid everyone well, there wouldn't be shops all over the place in Florida, because many people wouldn't pay more for a course, even if the course were made longer to include such things as rescue skills. So there would be fewer divers to buy new equipment. But the now existing shops may do OK financially. Not sure this would be a bad thing. There have been many threads comparing the cost of scuba courses to other things. Any Canadian parents out there care to weigh in on the cost of outfitting ONE kid for minor hockey?
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2013
  2. flots am

    flots am Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wherever you go in life, that's where you are.
    3,226
    1,863
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    Having someone on the surface above the students during open water dives lowers chance of drowning on the surface if anybody panics and bolts during a dive. It also eliminates the no-win decision of wheter to chase the runaway and abandon the other students, or stay with the students and hope the runaway is OK.

    flots
     
  3. oly5050user

    oly5050user Dive Travel Professional

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Westchester NY
    3,938
    739
    113
    On training dives I only take 2 at a time, left hand/right hand..Others stay ashore or on boat..I have been doing this a long time..going on 41 years now..keeping a dm on the surface as you say may not be the best spot to position a dm..example..this happened a few years ago at Dutch springs, I do not know who the instr was, during quarry training dive a instr had a few students on a platform. I understand that there was a dm with them, No one shot to surface but one fell off platform with no one noticing and panic set in -student drowned..Where was the dm positioned? My guess it was not where he/she could respond to student problems. Should have been in behind students in a position that allowed full view of students at all times.
     
  4. SeaHorse81

    SeaHorse81 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: PA
    834
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    Being a DM can be exactly where you want to be as long as you aren't counting on it to keep yourself housed and fed. It's a way to get in the water more, keep your own skills sharper, help others discover diving, and enjoy the fun, challenging and head-shaking things that happen in a class. All without the full level of responsibility and liability carried by the instructor. For some, that can be an amazing deal.

    Given that many (most?) instructors can't support themselves without an additional job anyway, DM could be the perfect "best of both worlds" for many people.
     
    Briney and oly5050user like this.
  5. oly5050user

    oly5050user Dive Travel Professional

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Westchester NY
    3,938
    739
    113
    Sorry your experience was what it was...We do not usually pay our dm's on the training dives, but when we have training dives we remind students that tips are accepted for them. Some of our dm's walk away from a weekend with $350.-$400. in tips from a weekend. Most students tip anywhere from $20. to $40 each...
    Our dms provide a service besides assisting instructors. They help students getting their gear out of their cars,enter/exit the water, fix any equipment issues, set up a grill for BBQ, all with a smile on their faces. In all they try to make the experience enjoyable for the student. As to burnout with instructors, yes that can happen, but I find when an instructor is treated well and paid well burnout becomes less of an issue.
     
  6. flots am

    flots am Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wherever you go in life, that's where you are.
    3,226
    1,863
    113
    That was just poor planning on the instructor's part. I can't imagine taking non-certified students anyplace without a hard bottom at the desired depth.

    ---------- Post added December 7th, 2013 at 10:05 PM ----------

    "Behind" with a good view is only good for the ability to point and think "Holy crap! I hope he's OK!"

    You can't catch anybody who bolts if you're at the same depth and not within immediate grabbing distance. With someone overhead, you can avoid the ever popular "Surfaced, failed to achieve positive buoyancy, descended and drowned."

    OW dives need to be planned and located so that failures are just things you note when you decide if the student is qualified for an OW card, not something that can be fatal. Descending unseen, to some unknown depth and dying (like at Dutch, apparently) shouldn't even be possible.

    Your mileage may vary.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2013
    Jim Lapenta likes this.
  7. RJP

    RJP Scuba Media & Publications

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: New Jersey
    13,460
    6,035
    113
    Simple market forces of supply/demand. There are apparently enough people seeking $75/hr golf lessons for the given number of golf instructors.

    Who's gonna pay $750-$1000 for an OW class? (Assuming 3-4 students to stay in ratio... because you wont be able to pay a DM if the instructor is making $75/hr, unless you want to bump the cost of the course to $800-$1100.)

    That's like the old "a baseball player make $40,000,000 but a teacher only makes $40,000" argument. Teachers will make the same as ball players when there are a million people willing to pay $40 to sit in their class.

    PS - a good golf instructor can easily charge north of $100/hr for a lesson. $150/hr not uncommon. $75/hr gets you someone at a driving range or local county or pitch & putt course.

    ---------- Post added December 8th, 2013 at 10:25 AM ----------


    The last part of that sentence makes no sense whatsoever. People are only worth what the marketplaces determines the going rate is, and not a penny more.
     
    FM1520, Pullmyfinger and TMHeimer like this.
  8. emoreira

    emoreira Dive Resort

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: ARGENTINA
    1,734
    340
    83
    I'm just finishing my Dive Control Specialist course under SSI.
    I also did the Dive Guide course, also under SSI, back in the first half of 2013.
    In many places of the course texts it is mentioned that those activities, and the activities related to those ratings are a way to earn money within the industry.
    Reading the text books, it is clear that a dive professional can earn money out of this activity.
    I'm quite aware that this is not the case in many parts of the world, just as what is mentioned here in this thread.
    SSI seems not to be aware, or doesn't want to admit, the reality of the industry which they are an important player. It's dissapointing reading the text book and realizing that they are not telling what actually happens.
     
  9. RJP

    RJP Scuba Media & Publications

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: New Jersey
    13,460
    6,035
    113
    Marketing 101: Never let the truth get in the way of a good story!
     
    emoreira likes this.
  10. DevonDiver

    DevonDiver N/A

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Subic Bay, Philippines
    15,396
    8,158
    113
    I agree, there is huge variation in DM working practice/expectations from country to country. Here in Asia, I have rarely (if ever) seen a DM assisting with courses - it just doesn't happen. Sometimes DM trainees will assist, but for the purposes of their own training. Once training is complete, it ceases. Same for compressor, boat skills - invariably dive centers have local staff to do those functions..and the DM won't touch it.

    That leaves the solitary function of dive guiding... and most dive centers won't employ someone who can 'just' do that. They'll employ instructors (which are plentiful - it's an employer's market) who can do everything; guiding and teaching.

    If you need to earn money from employment in the diving industry, then you'll realize pretty quickly that DM isn't a viable option. There will always be pressure to move upwards along the professional ladder. First to instructor, then adding more and more specialties, then towards instructor-trainer and/or technical etc...

    At each stage, qualification has to be balanced with experience... so it takes time. Be wary of employers who hire without demanding substantial experience - if they don't value/demand that, then they probably won't reward it either and/or have lower standards of quality.

    The financial investment is un-ending. You learn, quite quickly, to analyse career development from a 'return on investment' perspective - identifying what progression is likely to recoup value in respect to higher earning potential etc etc..

    Certainly for the Philippines, it'd be impossible to cover your living/visa costs on a DM salary. Hence, the vast majority of DMs are local. DMs get paid about 250php (~$5) per tank, per diver here.... generally, it's commission only. That's a lot of money in local terms, but nothing for someone coming from the 'first world'. Visas are priced on a 'first world' scale though...

    The only foreign DMs that I know here in the Philippines are basically retired on a pension and/or are married to a Filipina, thus have resident status and are in the country anyway - so work visa isn't an issue. There are more foreign instructors, but they tend to own dive shops; thus have a 'business visa' deal (invest X money and employ X locals, get a free work visa etc..)

    There's a lot more DMs working in countries like Thailand. That happens for several reasons: (1) Because the standard of English is lower amongst the local population, (2) that the income isn't as attractive, reflected against the economy, (3) there are many backpackers working as DMs, who don't mind 'beer money' commission-only (per tank) salary and (4) most of those backpacker DMs are working illegally (no visa).

    I disagree with this, at least for SE Asia and other very international tourist destinations. Languages seem to be a very important hiring criteria from what I've seen, but more critically with instructors than DMs. For each language an employee is capable of speaking, the available market widens for the dive center. However, the benefit in that market penetration is really dependent on whether X, Y or Z nationalities visit that region for holiday.

    For instance, Hebrew has value in Thailand, but not in Indo...

    This differs from the prevalent attitude I witnessed frequently in Thailand. LOL
     
    Briney likes this.

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