Ever wonder what the word "scuba" stands for? It's an acronym for self-contained
underwater breathing apparatus. Basically it's the air tanks and breathing
apparatus that allow divers to function underwater.
Scuba diving instructors teach others how to use this equipment. They also
teach safe diving procedures in the classroom, the pool and the open water.
Scuba diving instructors teach people at all skill levels, from beginners
to assistant instructors. For example, when working with a beginner, an instructor
will teach basic underwater breathing techniques. That same instructor may
also work with a certified diver who wants to become a rescue diver.
Many instructors are also managers. They may manage their own dive shop
or a diving program at a resort. In these cases, they take on all types of
duties, including everything from booking lessons and taking fees to ordering
supplies and dealing with customers.
Dive instructors work all over the world. Wherever there is water, you'll
find instructors. You may even find them inland, miles from the nearest ocean,
working in dive shops.
Resorts often hire qualified divers to teach guests and take them on guided
dives. Professional divers in this setting may live full time at the resort
or they may live nearby and work off the resort's beach.
Manufacturers also hire qualified divers to sell dive equipment at both
the wholesale and retail level.
Depending on the level of expertise, divers may also work in specialty
roles such as:
- Altitude diver
- Boat diver
- Drift diver
- Dry-suit diver
- Equipment specialist
- Multi-level diver
- Night diver
- Research diver
- Underwater hunter
- Underwater naturalist
- Underwater navigator
- Underwater photographer
- Underwater videographer
- Cave diver
- Deep diver
- Ice diver
- Search and recovery diver
- Wreck diver
- Underwater welder
Utility and power companies often hire divers to lay power lines and pipes
underwater. Divers in these positions may be under contract to work for a
particular power company, or they may just work on a freelance basis, moving
from job to job.
According to instructors, the diving industry has matured. This is no longer
the temporary career choice of "beach bums." These days, the industry is looking
for serious individuals with a professional attitude.
The hours a diver works depends on the career path they choose. Those in
the retail trade might work Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. A dive instructor in
a resort, however, tends to work longer hours and more days in much more exotic
"You're working in an exotic place, like the Bahamas, with people who love
what they're doing," says professional diver Richard Hartley. "I know people
who work 12 hours a day at desk jobs they hate. I don't know too many people
who hate this job."
Another instructor, Mary Brill, says the best part of the career is that
the workplace is relaxed and fun.
"You're always concentrating on what's going on, but you want the people
to relax and enjoy themselves," she says.
Strong people skills, work ethic and a commitment to excellence are what
it takes to make it in this field, says Hartley.
Good physical condition is required to be a scuba instructor. An instructor
needs strength to carry the equipment on land; the ability to breathe using
the scuba equipment (people with breathing disorders may have trouble here);
and the ability to handle the physical pressure of being underwater (people
with sinus problems may be impeded).