Scuba Diving: From Newbie To Professional In 3 Months

Before discovering Muay Thai, I took a one day trial scuba diving, loved it so much I went on to complete my Open Water certification – the basic three day
class – and decided, then and there, that I wanted to move to Thailand and work as a Divemaster. Initially, I had no money saved up so I sold my car and with the $8,000 I received, I figured I could pay for a flight back to Thailand, complete the Divemaster course, and start making money while traveling. I admit I was super naïve about the whole thing but somehow it all worked out. Hopefully, you can learn from some of my mistakes and have a clearer idea of what you’re getting yourself into – if you decide to go this route. I did my basic courses in Phuket but decided to go to Koh Tao to do the rest. Good thing I did, as it turns out Koh Tao is a hell of a lot cheaper to live and get certified. Mainly I wanted to get away from the craziness of Phuket and the idea of living on a simpler, smaller island had its charms. I arrived in November which – as you now know – is definitely the one month you shouldn’t go, due to the monsoon. Anyway, I did find a nice bungalow and a used motorbike cheap because it was the slow season. I paid 5,000 baht a month at a place called Sairee Cottage, which is on the main beach of Koh Tao. My hut was further back from the beach across the main road in a coconut plantation. There were three dogs there that belonged to a French girl who had gone home and I quickly adopted them – naming them Pepsi, Cola and Scruffy.

Scuba Diving: From Newbie To Professional In 3 Months Photo Gallery



Thinking back, I really had an amazing time that first trip to Koh Tao. Like all places you eventually find things you don’t like about it and want to move on
but for those first six months I truly was happy on that island. Although there are 50+ dive shops on the island I ended up going with ‘ScubaJunction’, a small shop in the middle of Sairee Beach. I walked in and told them I wanted to become a Divemaster; they were surprised when I told them I had only been diving 4 times in my life, and hadn’t even done the Advanced Open Water certification yet (which is the second step in the process) – talk about jumping feet first into the water! But I did it. I did my AOW class, then my Rescue Diver certification, including CPR/Emergency First Responder. Finally, I got to start my Divemaster training. I was lucky to have an instructor, called Jez – a Turkish military guy – that really cared and knew what he was doing. I have him to thank for training me to be the standard I am today. I took my sweet time finishing the course, ended up traveling a bit and going back to the U.S. (for a month) during it. I honestly think trying to rush – never having been diving before – being a Divemaster in 2 months is crazy and, although it’s possible, you won’t be comfortable – even after you get your DM. To complete your Divemaster course you need to do some classroom and theory: including physics of diving, physiology of your body and how it reacts to scuba diving, decompression theory and a bunch of other things. Luckily for you, as of last year, PADI, the world’s largest certification company (think Visa or Mastercard in the finance world) revised the Divemaster program and made it a lot less theory heavy.

You’ll still need to complete the DM swim tests which are timed tests, including: 15 minute treading water, 400m swim (no gear), 800m snorkel (masks, fins,
and snorkel), and a 100m tired diver tow (both in full scuba). Then there are some tests in scuba gear itself which, now I think back were quite fun, although stressful when you’re the one being graded. Straight after my training finished, Natalie – the owner of Scuba Junction – offered me a job. I was nervous at first but quickly got the hang of taking certified divers underwater with me and showing them around. Working as a Divemaster was seriously one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. It was fun and relatively stress free because the divers were already certified and (supposedly) knew what they were doing. At times I had my complaints about difficult customers and hard days but it wasn’t until I became a Scuba Instructor that I realized how easy I had it – more on that later. In search of better diving still I moved to Koh Lanta and, wow, it was seriously much better. The water was clearer, the marine life was a million times better and, since the boat rides were much longer, you were never in a rush. I’d still recommend doing your Divemaster course in Koh Tao, though, as it’s literally half the price. Just make sure you stay there and get some work experience before coming to Koh Lanta. One thing they don’t tell you when doing your Divemaster course is how difficult it will be to get a job after you’re done.

Basically, there are only three ways to get a job as an inexperienced DM:

• The first is get hired by the same company that trained you, which is the most likely because they know your experience (and personality) first hand.

• The second is if you speak a language they desperately need such as French, German, Russian, Mandarin, and sometimes Swedish.

• The third is to get lucky!

Seriously, sometimes you just need to be at the right place at the right time. Luckily, I’ve figured out when and where that is. If you want a Divemaster job
in Koh Tao show up at the shops you want a job around 4-5pm on the days after a full moon. There’s a huge party every month on the neighboring island, Koh Phangan, and it’s part of the tourist route to party there then go to Koh Tao to chill out and learn to scuba dive. The reason why 4pm is a good time is often the shop will have too many customers, not enough guides by that time and they’ll need someone to work freelance. Be flexible, even if they only give you one customer; if that’s the shop you want to work for do it with a smile – soon they’ll hire you full time.

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