Becoming a Divemaster
Updated: Aug 12
I started my PADI Divemaster training a little later on. Don’t get me wrong, it is never too late to start! However, as someone who grew up with the ocean as such a big part of their life, knowing early on it is what I wanted to study, I am surprised I didn’t start scuba diving sooner. I learned to freedive first and there are some major differences between the two. Ultimately, I first started scuba diving as a requirement for my future job.
Requirements For Divemaster Training
Step 1: Open Water Certification
Open water certification is the first in many training courses required to get your Divemaster. This is your intro to scuba diving. You will learn the fundamentals of how to dive safely & efficiently so that you and a buddy and go and dive.
I first did this course with my younger brother when I lived in Orlando. I definitely dragged him along to start but I like to think he ended up enjoying it. Since our dive shop (The Dive Station) was located in the middle of Florida most of our diving was done in lakes and springs around the Orlando area. I was already very comfortable in the water and in the ocean but at this point I did have the most experience scuba diving in open ocean.
Although, I definitely credit my instructors for this course with establishing a really great foundation for my future scuba training! The two ex-military guys that taught us were tough on us and expected things to be done correctly but I think that is why I had such a good understanding moving forward in my scuba training.
Step 2: Advanced Diving Certification
In my opinion getting your advanced certification is WAYYYYY more fun than getting your open water cert. Mainly because this certification is all diving with no written test. It is one of the more relaxed courses on the way to getting your Divemaster. If you have your open water certification I always recommend you get your advanced certification. Having this cert is an amazing way to open up so many cool diving opportunities that are unavailable to open water divers.
During the advanced cert you will do five different dives focusing on specific specialties that will further your diving abilities and comfort. Of the five you will do at least one deep dive (below the 60ft limit set for open water divers) and one focused on underwater navigation. The rest you get to choose from a long list!
Other than the two required dives, I chose to specialize in peak performance buoyancy, underwater naturalist, and fish identification. Depending on where you do your course and who teaches it you may have the opportunity to participate in certain specialties over others. I completed my advanced course in Hawaii with Hawaii EcoDivers, and therefore my specialties were in relation to the ecosystem I was in.
My Diving Mistake
Now this is where I reveal that I wasn’t exactly the most responsible diver. Prior to getting my advanced cert I went on a dive to around 110ft. It was my first dive in the ocean, as all of my dives for my open water cert were in springs and lakes, and I was not prepared.
I was so incredibly excited and kind of nervous knowing I was breaking the rules (I was in very good hands which is the only reason I did this dive in the first place) and I burned through my air so fast that by the time I hit the bottom I had to go right back up. About 3ft from the surface I ran out of air and without realizing I could practically pop my head up to breathe I began buddy breathing with my instructor. We did the same dive the next day and I was completely fine. However, moral of the story just stay within the limits given by your certifications. Scuba diving is an extremely safe sport and limits are normally very reserved but you still should be safe vs sorry.
Step 3: Rescue Certification
Getting your rescue certification is the first step in pursuing a professional scuba diving career, like becoming a Divemaster. The goal of this course is to prepare you for managing yourself and others in a scuba diving emergency. You will learn how to use specific equipment, manage stress in divers, and complete rescues of responsive and unresponsive divers.
Although scuba diving is generally very safe, you never know when lifesaving education may come in handy. Especially as a Divemaster you NEED to know how to handle an emergency situation. Not only for the safety of the divers you are guiding but also for yourself.
My rescue certification was done during my time in Hawaii between college semesters. I was already prepared to start the course since I had my CPR and first aid certification and had done trauma drills through my work with One Ocean. However, this course was still difficult. This certification is highly skill based and involves a lot of attention to detail. I definitely had to work a lot harder to master these skills compared to past certs.
Step 4: Beginning Divemaster Training
To start your PADI Divemaster training you are required to have 40 logged dives. By the time you finish you will have 60+ dives. The idea of Divemaster training is to prepare you for leading and instructing divers in a professional setting. The list of specific skills associated with earning your Divemaster goes on and on.
I was on a deadline to get my Divemaster because of certain job requirements so I went through my training as quickly as possible while still meeting all the standards set by PADI. My instructor Katie (Shoutlz Scuba Services) was amazing. She worked with me to intertwine my scuba training around my busy college course schedule. On top of working on my skills and courses with Katie, I was also assisting on dives through my University’s scuba diving courses.
Since I was moving through my previous courses relatively quickly my biggest challenge in getting my Divemaster was meeting the number of dives requirement. So back to my poor brother helping me out as my only local dive buddy. I used to drive back to Orlando from Tampa every weekend to pick him up. We would then go to Devil’s Den in northern Florida where we would do 3-4 dives a day. Let me tell you I could dive Devil’s Den with my eyes closed at this point.
My biggest regret when it comes to my scuba training was that I didn’t start earlier. Everything happens the way it does for a reason and it was meant to be. However, I would advise anyone interested in pursuing a job in the marine sciences or in a professional diving career to start their journey towards getting your Divemaster earlier rather than later.
Enjoy The Process
I felt extremely rushed in getting my Divemaster because I had a self-imposed deadline in place. Part of the benefits of starting your Divemaster as early is that you can really enjoy the process. Getting your Divemaster certification should be a fun experience! The more time you have to enjoy and learn the more fun the process will be.
Location vs Reality
When considering where you plan to go through your Divemaster training, you may want to consider where you plan to dive in the future. I first did my open water scuba training in Florida. It took me a while to adapt to diving in Hawaii. It isn’t impossible to do, but every place is different. Surely, you will eventually travel and dive around the world and in different environments. However, it can definitely help when you’re starting out to consider your ideal diving location.
Read about the best places to dive in Oahu here.
Ultimately, nothing is as important as having good instructors. Make sure the instructors teaching you fit your style but also challenge you to be better! Without a good instructor there is no point to your training. However, the good news is I haven’t really ever encountered a bad instructor. Chances are you’ll be stoked with whoever your instructor is!
Why Do You Really Want Your Divemaster?
It is one thing to want your Divemaster, but exactly why you want it will affect what you get out of it. I went into my Divemaster with the goal of getting it just so I could qualify for my future job. I was more focused on making it through than actually enjoying it.
If you are focused on your Divemaster simply because you want the certification that’s ok. However, I would urge you to really examine exactly why you want your Divemaster. Your reasons will ultimately determine the path you take towards completing the qualifications to receive your certification.