10 Steps to PADI Master Instructor
What does it mean to “master” something or to be a master of a subject? You’ve probably heard of a “master’s” tour, or a “master’s” degree or a “master” craftsman or artist. The term master denotes someone of ability and experience. In some fields, it may mean thousands of hours spent on the subject matter. For the PADI system of diver education, a Master Instructor is someone that has taught many, if not all, facets of the PADI system and trained many divers at different levels.
Let’s take a look at the ten steps to become a PADI Master Instructor:
1. Complete the PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and IDC Staff Instructor programs
2. Be a PADI Instructor for at least 2 years
3. Be an Emergency First Response Instructor
4. Participate in three PADI Seminars
5. Issue 150 PADI Certifications, including at least 50 continuing education (Adventure Diver or Higher), including 15 Specialty certifications, five Rescue Diver certifications, five Divemaster certifications and five Assistant Instructor certifications.
6. Issued at least 10 Emergency First Response provider course completion cards
7. Use the complete system of PADI instruction and materials for training.
8. Issued PADI as the primary certification
9. Have no Quality Assurance violations within the past 6 months
10. Demonstrate support of the PADI organization in it’s efforts to establish programs in aquatic education and conservation.
Those are the requirements, right out of the PADI Instructor manual (some minor paraphrasing). It’s clear that there is a time commitment (at least 2 years), but the depth and breadth of teaching is the essential part. So, there are the requirements, why should you aim for PADI Master Instructor? For me, it was initially my goal to reach Master Instructor to prove to myself that I really knew what I was doing. [Of course, that goal changed once I jumped into Instructor Development.] For others, it might be that extra rating to make themselves more marketable. Of course, you have to know how to convey that as a Master Instructor you’ve taught at all levels.
Now, do those 150 certifications have to be 150 different individuals? Nope. One of the things I’ve found most rewarding in my diving career is to take a group of divers through many levels of training, watching them develop as divers. Let’s take a look at some options.
Group of four divers. You start with Open Water Diver and you complete your dives on a dive boat, so you can integrate the Boat Diver specialty. You take them out on a 3-day live-aboard for their dives. Reaching day two and completing their dives for Open Water and Boat Diver, they decide to complete Adventure Diver. So, after the class and three days on a boat, you’ve racked up 12 certifications; 4 open water and 8 continuing education.
Follow that up, with that group completing Advanced Open Water and maybe a couple of Specialties with two days of diving. Twelve more certs. You’re now up to 4 Open water, 20 continuing education, with twelve of those being Specialties.
A few weeks later, you take them out for Rescue Diver and another specialty, like Underwater Naturalist. Totals: 4 open water, 20 specialties, 4 rescue divers, 4 Adventure Diver, 4 Advanced Open Water. 32 total. More than 20% of the total number of certs towards Master Instructor, knocked out your specialty requirements, most of your rescue diver requirement and a good portion of the continuing education requirement, all with four people. If they racked up the diving requirement and a fifth specialty, they’re probably all ready for the Master Scuba Diver Rating. Add another 4-8 certs.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Do it four times with Master Scuba Diver, and you’ve hit the number of certs you need. EXCEPT…you still need Divemaster and Assistant Instructor certifications. Chances are, once you’ve trained Rescue Divers, they’re ready to make the jump to Pro. So that will probably be easy. Assistant Instructors might not be so easy. You can earn those numbers by staffing Instructor Development Courses. If you staff two complete IDCs, that will count as the five AI certs you need. I actually suggest you staff at least one IDC and then work with a Course Director so you teach the AI course as part of an IDC. That way you get some excellent experience with actually teaching the AI’s and you have some help during the course.
There you go. Ten steps towards Master Instructor. What are you waiting for? Make a plan and start down the path!