Does it seem like I’ve been writing about my Divemaster course forever? It kind of does to me! It’s time to wrap things up on this subject before I lost the interest of all my land lubber readers, but I do have some final thoughts and pieces of advice I want to share first.
First, a look back at all the previous posts thus far in this series. Who know I’d have so much to say about becoming a PADI professional?
- Becoming a Divemaster: Who What When Where & Why
- Becoming a Divemaster: Theory
- Becoming a Divemaster: Skills
- Becoming a Divemaster: Practical Application
- Becoming a Divemaster: The Night I Almost Quit
- Becoming a Divemaster: Hazing
Now, are you thinking of doing your Divemaster? Awesome! As I wrote this series in part to provide information for those looking into doing the course, I want to end with some pieces of advice I wish I’d read before I started.
DO be ready to work hard
The Divemaster course can be a lot of fun, but it is also an intense internship and training program. You’ll be expected to be a part of a team, and do grunt work like carrying tanks and washing gear. You’ll need to take constructive criticism well.
DON’T be intimidated
Many commenters have noted that they would never be able to understand the theory, perform the skills, etc. Remember that by the time you get to the Divemaster Training level, you’ve already completed an Open Water Course, an Advanced Open Water course, and a Rescue Diving Course and ideally been diving for some time. You can do it.
DO look for schools in person, and DO know what you are looking for
Do you want a big school, where you’ll find built-in friends in your fellow DMTS and benefit from a more structured program, or do you want to take a smaller school with a more independent study and personalized attention? Write down a list of what you are looking for in your experience, and bring it with you when you start searching for school.
I cannot more highly recommend waiting until you are on location and can interview dive shops in person to make your decision. Emailing ahead of time to gather information or start the decision process is fine, but you’ll be spending a lot of money and time on this. You want to make sure it’s a good fit, and I think the only way to do so is in person.
DO look for scholarships and grants to offset costs
While considering doing my DMT, I applied for and won a Women Diver’s Hall of Fame continuing education grant. It paid $500 towards my course fees as well as $500 towards equipment, plus Big Bubble also extended a 10% discount to me for the gear I had, which saved me $100. But the value wasn’t only monetary — I made connections with an impressive group of women in the diving industry who I am still in touch with today.
There are a surprising number of opportunities for men and women of all nationalities to apply for grants and scholarships to help offset the cost of a dive program and develop a strong support network. Anyone looking into continuing dive education would be crazy not to check out the following, which I found with just a few moments of internet sleuthing.
DON’T rush it
I did my Divemaster course in just about five weeks. It was too short. Granted, I was trying to balance blogging, freelance work, and my course all at once, but even had I just been focused on diving I still think I would have felt rushed. If I could do it over again I would take 2-3 months. The course fees and the plane ticket are sure to be the biggest expenses — not to mention unlimited diving is included — so why not slow down and enjoy it?
DO have your own gear (at least some of it)
Not all dive shops require you to have your own gear, though many will extend you a discount for having your own. My BCD fell apart right before I started, but my dive shop still gave me 10% off for having a partial set. Customers will understandably be given priority over divemasters when it comes to equipment, and I can attest to how irritating it was to dive with the wrong size BCD when all in my size were taken. Thus there are a few pieces of gear I personally wouldn’t consider doing the course without.
First, buy a mask, snorkel and fins. They are relatively cheap and having your own will make all the difference in the world. Second, get a dive computer. It’s more or less essential for a divemaster, and while expensive they are small and easily packable. Third, I’d go for a wetsuit and/or BCD — in my case, my sizes were almost never available after gear was doled out to customers. Last on my priorities list would be a regulator, as they are one size and are quite expensive to buy and heavy to travel with. I have a post coming up next week with a detailed look inside my gear bag, so stay tuned!
DO know what you want out of it
Are you planning to go on to do your Instructor Development Course? Are you hoping to supplement a career in another field, such as marine conversation? Are you just looking for a fun way to spend a summer? All are equally valid! Be clear with your mentor about what you expect to get out of your course, so that they can tailor the program to you.
But DON’T be afraid to change your mind
While my course solidified my suspicion that I don’t ever want to becoming an instructor, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed guiding certified divers. My main objective in becoming a Divemaster was to become a more attractive underwater videography job candidate, but it’s nice to know that I’m capable of doing Divemaster work as well. Be open to the idea that this course might change your path!
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It’s hard to sum up such a major life experience and conclude it in a fitting way. As they say, a photo is worth a thousand words, so rather than attempt to be wise or poignant, I thought I’d leave you all with a picture. Here’s my dog Tucker dressed as a scuba diving lobster. He says good luck with your Divemaster training.