Imagine that you are a modern-day explorer, deep on a journey in the royal blue ocean. Vibrant sea creatures dance around you as you swim through a world beneath our world. This is the realm of scuba diving, a thrilling activity that can provide fun-filled adventures to novices and experts alike. Though it may look easy, scuba diving can be a challenge, and can even be dangerous in the wrong circumstances. It is vital to be as knowledgeable as possible before delving into this activity, and this can only be garnered with a quality scuba diving instructor. When choosing a diving instructor, consider the following factors:
1. Choose a reputable school. To find a quality instructor, look to a quality school. Many schools teach scuba diving, providing everything from $20,000 comprehensive commercial diving instruction to day programs for first time divers. Many schools have rigorous standards for instructors, providing you with some insight into their diving and teaching skills. Large commercial schools such as Ocean Corporation, Commercial Diving Academy and Divers Academy International make certain that instructors are highly qualified. Another large organization is the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). They pride themselves as the “world’s leading scuba diving training organization,” and are affiliated with over five thousand dive shops. They offer intensive PADI classes to train scuba diving instructors, with varying levels for those who wish to teach more. With a PADI instructor, you will know at least the minimum training the instructor has completed.
2. Make certain that the instructor is licensed. There are several large organizations that will license instructors, giving you some idea as to their training, abilities and experience. The aforementioned PADI is one such organization. Others include the National Association of Scuba Diving Schools (NASDS) and the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI). These organizations may also help you locate instructors that have completed their programs. You will then have a basic idea of their credentials.
3. Like with any other professional, a personal recommendation can be invaluable. If you can, consult with previous students to get a personal opinion of the teacher’s techniques and instruction. Dive shops will often be able to recommend a quality instructor. You can also get a recommendation from a professional in the field or a friend or colleague with scuba diving experience.
4. View the facilities and equipment. You want to make certain that the facilities are clean and professional. The equipment should be in good condition. If an instructor is utilizing items that are in poor condition or an unclean environment, that could be considered a warning sign as to his or her professionalism.
5. Talk to the instructor. Many instructors have different teaching styles. Even a good teacher could have a style that is not compatible with you. By speaking with the teacher, you may be able to ascertain whether he or she can teach you in an effective manner. Use the opportunity to ask about experience or methods. Ask questions. It will enlighten you to his or her experience and knowledge, which are vital components of teaching ability.
6. Look at experience. Few things can compensate for experience, or lack thereof. You want to find an instructor who is experienced in both diving and diving instruction. Just because one is a skilled diver does not mean that they can effectively teach the skills necessary to be a good diver. If there is a particular area of diving that you prefer (i.e. diving in a certain location or underwater photography) then you may want to search for someone who has expertise in that specific area.
7. Prices for diving instruction vary greatly. There are basic lessons for the novice for hundreds of dollars to full commercial diving certifications that cost tens of thousands of dollars and everything in between. Even the same services can cost different amounts from different instructors. Decide upon a price based on your budget and consider pricing in your search for an instructor.
8. Try it out. See if there is a way you can sit in on or view part of a class before committing to an entire program. There is no better method for ascertaining whether something is for you than trying it out.
Scuba diving is a thrilling activity, yet it can be wrought with danger. It is vital to obtain the best instruction possible from a qualified diving instructor. With the right tools, you will soon be on your way to swimming amongst the beautiful creatures of the sea.