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the truth about DM's

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

  1. corvettejoe

    corvettejoe Divemaster

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Orlando, FL
    I just got into this whole DM thing more recently and really enjoy it.

    I wanted to become a DM so I could help teach (and eventually become an instructor). I then wanted to help teach/buddy/DM in a tech environment (full cave, deco, etc) so I became a Tech DM.
    I enjoy being a tech student's "buddy" and usually get to do all the drills and skills along with them. It's especially fun seeing the students reaction in those back of a cave "crap hits the fan" drills (light dies, mask breaks, and suddenly you're out of air... those are fun combos...then you have to find your way out of the cave). I love that stuff.

    But I had always been interested in the DM's on the boats.

    One weekend I was talking to a dive shop owner friend of mine and asked if I could go jump off some of his boats. I "helped" enough on a trip that I was invited back as regular crew rotation. I now DM on their boats at least one weekend a month (if not, more) and REALLY enjoy it. I love helping the customers out, making them feel welcome, carrying their gear to take the load off of their paid vacation trip and do anything I can to make them feel at home and enjoy themselves.

    Since myself and the other crew I dive with usually do a "One Up - One Down" then I get at least one dive in on every trip, and often get to call my favorite sites to visit if there is nothing in particular scheduled for that trip.

    The tips are nice when they happen, most weekends I can pay for my entire trip. I live 2 hours away from the dive site, so it's nice to be able to pay for my gas, dinners and drinks out with the staff/crew, discounted items through the dive shop, etc. It makes diving a lot more affordable.

    Don't get me wrong, it's VERY hard work, for very little pay (if you are paid in tips only), but all the extra perks I get out of it, makes it more than worth it for me.

    You just have to have an extreme servants attitude and not go into it expecting to make a lot of money. Just enjoy what you do for the sake of doing it, and unless you're paid well, you may want to have a part time job if you expect to do this for a living. Most of the other crew I work with are part of the dive shop's staff, so they are paid for other duties during the week, but the dive trips usually all tip based.

    One big thing I learned was to make sure you have all the tools, and an extra set of gear available in your vehicle (or onboard the boat). There's nothing worse than not being able to help a paying customer not be able to dive. I've even stripped parts off of my own gear so that a customer could dive during the dive that I was working deckhand. It's nice when they show their appreciation in the end by a big tip, but again, I don't expect anything, as I am just one diver helping out another.

    Also remember, even bad vis, grumpy customers, etc are something you have to just smile and hype up the situation for in a positive manner. They paid to dive, you are just there to make their experience better. If the vis is known to be bad, even if you just dove and think it's bad, only discuss the positives such as all the cool stuff you saw, and that YOU don't think it was that bad and that YOU saw a lot of neat things... this can quickly change their perception, and perhaps they can enjoy their second dive better, or forgot about the negatives and focus on the cool stuff to see that you saw. If they have a good time, they tip better. IF they had a bad time, they take it out on you and bring the vibe of the entire boat down by complaining. Then if that happens, the other customers start to think "Yeah, that guy is right, this dive DID suck"... you DON'T want that to happen! So... stay positive no matter what.

    It's also an interesting experience in that it's one of the few jobs that you are completely in charge of the whole experience... yet you are doing all the hard labor with a servants attitude to make their experience a good one... from schlepping tanks on/off the boat, carrying gear, fixing their equipment, serving them drinks and snacks, fixing the head, helping them in and out of the boat/water/etc. You do it all for little to no thanks sometimes. But so long as they leave happy, you should feel good about it.

    I don't do this to make money, I just do it for fun on the weekends. It is nice when my weekend gets paid for, and I have extra on top to spend on more dive gear, but if I hardly get tipped, I still got to do a few dives and hang out with my crew/staff friends for the weekend :)

    ---------- Post added September 24th, 2014 at 07:22 PM ----------

    That's exactly my story :)

    It's still good times every time for me :D
    umbert likes this.
  2. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    corvettejoe, Sounds like you're having a great time on those charters. I don't do charters here for several reasons, the biggest being how far I live from the dock. But I look at DMing a charter differently than assisting with classes. Usually the charter pay is as you say, tips only (though a prominent chop in FL does the opposite--pay for charters but not for assisting). But figuring that as a DM you do get a dive or 2 each trip, that's a value of usually around $100 US plus YOU would tip that DM--if you went as a customer. So, you CAN look at it as you're working (and enjoying it) and getting $100 pay--in the form of free diving. I can't figure the same regarding those who assist with classes for no pay (as I mentioned, we get paid, but as for tips--so far in 3 years I received one beer).
  3. TrunkMonkey

    TrunkMonkey Divemaster

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Canada
    I enjoy heading out of town for O/W courses, the lakes around Jasper have awesome vis and we spend the weekend sitting around the campfire hanging out after the dives. Always a good time.
  4. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    Great way to wind up an OW course. I haven't been out that way in years--can just imagine those lakeside campfires.
  5. george_austin

    george_austin Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Los Angeles,CA. Alcoi, Espana, Los Barilles, Baja
    No one I ever knew wanted to become a DM for money. It's for the diving and the fun of making better divers out of poor ones - and the girls
  6. bdh1974

    bdh1974 Garibaldi

    True that George. Definitely not in it for the money.
  7. deerstalker36

    deerstalker36 Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Bunbury
    Yep, definitely not in it for the money. At 49 and just starting my DM internship / general dogsbody course I realise i'm not going to make a massive wage out of it. That's why I have a job with a very decent wage (c'mon, i'm in the dive shop nearly every night, the temptation for shiny purchases is just too much)

    I do it because it gives me the chance for some free dives every other weekend, I get to practice my skills more regularly than I otherwise would, I get to keep up to date with what's new. I also get free tank fills and servicing which saves me a load of money. I also get to meet a load of different people and see the smile on their faces when they come out of the water after the first dive in the pool and the huge grin when they come out of the sea after their first open water having seen a wobbegong or an eagle ray. For me that's what DM'ing is about, having the chance to share what I do. I'd love to get into instructing and again I know I wont make a living out of it

    I would expect to get paid after my training has finished, after all i'm giving my time out at weekends or in the evening, but I know it would only just cover the cost of the petrol to get there.

    I think a meme I saw recently sums up the major pro side of diving

    Scuba Instructor....
    Someone who loads $5000 worth of dive gear into a $500 car to travel 100km to make $60 for the dive lesson

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