Best Scuba Diving in Thailand

Scuba Instructor – Being one may kill your passion for diving.

I decided to take the next step after Divemaster and become a ‘full-on’ Scuba Instructor, mainly because I love teaching and second it seemed like (as a DM) I
had to do all of the grunt work – like carrying scuba tanks – while they just joked around with their students. You also get paid a hell of a lot more as an instructor verses being a DM. What no one told me, though, was that going through the process of becoming an instructor you start to see the business side of the dive training industry and often get a really bad taste in your mouth from it. The big dive certification companies are geniuses at marketing and getting people to try and fall in love with scuba diving. The problem is that they try to convince every diver to go through their entire training program – all the way up to instructor. There simply aren’t enough jobs in the world to support that many professionals. What really saddens me is how many people invest their savings into the program, get certified as an instructor and go home because they can’t find a job. They lose their passion for diving and become jaded. The truth is, most big dive centers that offer Instructor Development Courses are only physically capable of hiring 3% of their students afterward, even as a non-paid intern.

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I would recommend most people to work as a Divemaster for at least 3 years before you even think about becoming an instructor; it’s not worth the extra money
and stress. Do not be scammed into thinking that – as an instructor – you will be able to find work easier; if you cannot find a job as a paid DM you will not find a job as an instructor. If you still want to do your instructor course I would recommend you do it at a small to medium sized dive center, and get in writing (through email) that you will be allowed to stay after the course. Tell them that you are happy to work for free but want the experience. Do not pay to be on an internship for a MSDT (Master Scuba Diver Trainer), which is the next ranking up. You can find it included for free, if you look around, and I feel like it should be part of the program anyway since you don’t actually learn how to teach a course during your IDC (Instructor Development Course). You’ll be paying close to $3,000US after you add up all of the PADI fees, textmy blogs, equipment pack and random things that you won’t be aware of until you are committed. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’ll only be $1,000 – trust me, it’s not!

I know Crystal Dive Resort in Koh Tao will let you help out on a few courses (for free) after your IDC finishes but email them and find out exactly how many
you can sit through. Lanta Divers in Koh Lanta (and maybe some dive centers in Phuket) may let you work as a non-paid intern after your class. Don’t be afraid to ask around first, and don’t fall into the hype of “Best IDC Course Director.” To be honest, none of that matters; you can do your IDC at the best IDC center in the world with the best course director and you still won’t know anything about teaching a class – until you shadow someone afterward and then do it yourself. You’re basically paying for nothing more than a certification and knowledge of the company’s standards. The only two ways to get a job as a dive instructor (after the IDC program) are:

• Speak a language that is desperately needed – French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian and maybe a few others such as Dutch or Swedish depending
on where you are.

• Through relationships. You can either do this by doing your IDC at the same place you worked as a dive master, or you can do your IDC somewhere where they
will guarantee you a free internship afterward and hope that will turn into a paid job. (Most English instructors -who don’t speak a second language – end up
working at the same dive company for years as they know it’ll be hard for them to find another job elsewhere.)

A bit outside of Thailand is the best company I’ve ever worked for. It’s out of the way but once you’re there it’s quite cheap to live. Aside from the massive
garbage problem (which I sincerely hope they educate and enforce the locals about soon), it’s the most amazing diving I’ve ever experienced. In Koh Tao you may see 1 turtle a month if you are lucky. In Koh Lanta you may see 1 a day, on a good day. On Mabul you will see an average of 6 per dive! I highly recommend Scuba-Junkie in Mabul, Malaysia as the best dive resort I’ve been to – in terms of Divemaster training, Instructor training and working there. The only reason why I am no longer in Borneo where ScubaJunkie is located is because they don’t have Muay Thai which is my first passion. Secondly, the litter in the water really put me off, almost to a point where it disgusts me. I would still highly recommend it for your Divemaster and Instructor courses.

I ended up doing my instructor’s course at ‘Utila Dive Center’ in Honduras. Having been in Thailand for almost two years at that point, I was looking for
somewhere better, hoping the water would be bluer on the other side of the world. The reason why I do not recommend Utila (or the surrounding islands) is because there are not nearly enough job opportunities for dive instructors. I reckon less than 3% of instructors find a paying job there. Even though Koh Tao is known to have too many instructors as well, if you wait around until after the full moon party every month, you’ll at least be able to freelance somewhere and get your foot in the door. If you speak another language that is needed, you will eventually find a job there, or in Koh Phi Phi – on Utila that’s simply not the case. I did, however, learn a very valuable lesson from the process of spending the rest of my savings venturing across the globe that almost made it worth it. I learned to appreciate Thailand a thousand times more, and realized that I need to be happy where I am instead of hoping the grass is greener on the other side -it’s not. Thailand is an amazing place, and so is most of South East Asia; it’s much cheaper than other parts in the world as well. Just remember that, unless you speak a second language, your chances of finding work as an inexperienced DM or Instructor is almost zero, which is why it is vital to stay and work at the shop you trained at for at least 3-6 months after your course. Before signing up for a course, make sure they promise you (at minimum) a non-paid internship until you can find a paid job. If they cannot, look elsewhere – trust me, this is non-negotiable. Don’t think for a second that just because you are a good person and work hard they will hire you; some places in the world just don’t have the need for you.

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