On the day the latest set of GCSE results are announced I wanted to address a common question we get asked frequently, how do I get a job in diving? Not many people come to diving straight from school. For a lot of us the idea of scuba diving for a job does not exist in school careers books but as a career we almost stumble upon. I know when I decided I wanted to become a scuba professional many people regarded it as a hobby job. Whilst most people participating it is a hobby, working in the diving industry is often long unsociable hours.
I hate to sound like a parent but make sure you have good language skills (can read and write) and can do maths. You will also need to be a good communicator with good inter personal skills. Obviously scuba qualifications will be required, and experience is a definite bonus, divers love talking diving!
So what's available? If we consider a recreational diving store as our starting point. Initially there are two obvious starting positions, one being a dive master the second a retail assistant.
Most Divemaster positions tend to be unpaid in the UK. They are an experience gaining position with many candidates planning to become instructors. You will need to complete the PADI Divemaster course before you can apply for this. Many dive centres find that candidates who do this are well known to the centre before hand, having been involved in the prior courses and trips. It is in both parties interest to have as many Divemasters possible as the centre wants extra capable hands and eyes in the water and the Divemasters want experience.
Many people consider the Divemaster position a stepping stone to becoming an instructor. This is not always the case. Overseas the position is ideal for those who just love diving. Increase you employ-ability by being a qualified boat handler (at least RYA level 2 or above). If as a Divemaster you can attend a compressor maintenance course this will stand you out above the crowd too.
Scuba Retail Assistant
A retail assistant needs to know about the dive kit. You don't need to be massively experienced as a diver but you do need to be a bit of an equipment junkie! Reading the latest kit reviews, talking and discussing gear with experienced divers all help. You don't want to be pushy, we are not selling second hand cars, we need knowledgeable individuals who want to offer people the best advice on kit selection. Being passionate about the subject is a must.
Scuba Equipment Technician
Other opportunities include training as a scuba technician to repair and service dive gear. It should be noted few dive centres have full time technicians on staff so this may be a good addition to your skill set for other jobs in the centre. Intensive courses are available to get you started then you will need to attend manufacturer specific courses which normally have to be sponsored by the dive centre (i.e. the courses are only offered to people via the dive centre).
Many people see becoming a dive instructor as the holy grail of their diving career. However it is not for everyone. I have meet superb divers who where terrible instructors. The key here is not being a brilliant diver but a brilliant teacher. Yes, you must be competent in the water but you need to love teaching. Most of your job is teaching entry level courses over and over so if you are easily bored this is not the job for you. I spent many years teaching diving full time and got better with experience. As an experienced instructor I could spot problems long before they occurred and could tailor my teaching to help my students avoid issues. In fact I got bored of diving long before I lost the buzz of teaching. If I could impart my advice to all instructors it would be make sure you continue diving for your own enjoyment and not just always dive with students. Still the most sort after instructors tent to be PADI instructors but also be qualified with other agencies will help, BSAC, SSI, CMAS etc
You will need the relevant qualifications but as an employer a lot comes down to individuals personalities. Being responsible, knowledgeable but fun and friendly are great traits. After all our customers are paying to spend time with us. To our customers this is their passion and they should expect us as scuba professionals to be there for them. Often the best way of getting into a dive job is start as an unpaid volunteer, then make yourself invaluable to your future employer. Please comment here on the blog if I have missed anything or if you have any comments, it would be great to hear them!