How long does it take to become a scuba instructor?

PADI requires Instructor Candidates to have been certified at least 6 months before becoming an instructor. Does that mean you should or comfortably could go from non-diver to PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor in just six months? Yes, if you’re motivated and committed. Let’s look at the steps along the road and how long it might take.

  1. PADI Open Water Diver (or equivalent).   You can complete this course in as little as four days.   With a bit of independent study (PADI eLearning or the traditional book+dvd), you’ll have a bit of preparation before those four days.   In those four days, you’ll review what you covered in your independent study and then learn and practice skills in a pool or other confined water site.   Then, you make four open water dives over two days to practice the skills you learned.    With that said, I highly suggest you don’t rush this if you’re planning on becoming an instructor.  After talking to many instructors that have taught the course this fast and have also taught it in a slower manner, they find that a better pace with more pool practice makes for better divers.   So, having 4-6 pool sessions spread over a few weeks is better than cramming everything in in a day or two.  Pay attention to what your instructor is demonstrating, when you are in the Divemaster course, you’ll be honing those skills to demonstration quality.
  2. PADI Advanced Open Water Diver (or equivalent).   This can be completed in as little as two days.   You make five Adventure dives, two of which are Navigation and Deep diving–you need to be able to find your way back to the shore or boat and almost all divers want to see stuff at deeper depths.   The other three Adventure dives can range from Boat diving and Altitude Dive to Fish Identification and Peak Performance Buoyancy.   This is the sampler course–allowing you to sample what divers do for fun.   I suggest taking a bit of time after the Advanced course to participate in more dives.   Perhaps take a dive trip with your local dive shop and practice some of the skills you’ve learned.   You may want to consider taking some PADI Specialty Courses, since they build on the Adventure dives and develop your skills under experienced instructor supervision.
  3. PADI Rescue Diver (or equivalent).   This is another program that can be completed in a couple of days.   You develop a toolbox of skills to help prevent and respond to diving emergencies.  I suggest spreading this training out, much like the Open Water Diver course.   Several pool sessions to practice your rescue skills will better serve you in Divemaster and Instructor Development.
  4. PADI Divemaster (or other dive leader program).   This course can take some time, but if you drag it out more than a few months, that’s probably too long.   You’ll learn how to manage groups of certified divers, assist with divers in training, develop your dive skills to demonstration quality.   Remember what you saw in Open Water Diver from your instructor?   You’ll also practice your rescue skills.   Here is where the extra time in Open Water and Rescue can really pay off.    You’ll also learn more about dive theory–equipment, general diving skills & the environment, physics, physiology and the recreational dive planner.   You’ll need to develop this knowledge further before the Instructor Development Course, though.  PADI’s Dive Theory Online is a great way to develop your knowledge here.   You’ll also learn about PADI Standards and how they apply to courses.  If you’re crossing over from another agency, you’ll need further orientation to the PADI System.   Talk to your PADI Course Director before the Instructor Development Course.  Divemaster can be conducted either as a stand-along program with other candidates and/or staff, or it can be conducted in tandem with real courses.   I prefer real courses, because you get to see what real students are like (and what you were like).   This can stretch the course out if your instructor doesn’t have a lot of courses going on.   Plan on a month or so to complete Divemaster.
  5. PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC).    Time to learn how to teach people how to blow bubbles underwater!   You’ll learn how to teach in the classroom, in the pool and at open water.   You’ll  hone your diving skills to top-notch demonstration quality.   You’ll practice your rescue skills, with emphasis on not just being effective, but also demonstrating how to perform a rescue.   You’ll learn more about the PADI System of Education and how to market diving education.   This course is a minimum of five days long.   That requires a lot of preparation on your part.   I suggest extending it to 7-8 days and also include the EFR Instructor course and a few other programs and workshops.   I like to include the PADI Emergency Oxygen Instructor course, a Project AWARE workshop and a PADI Kids Program workshop.   You’ll get a bit more teaching experience with these programs and it doesn’t feel as rushed.
  6. PADI Instructor Examination (IE).   This program is conducted by PADI staff over two days.   The Examiner evaluates your ability to teach, your knowledge and your skills.   You may feel a bit stressed here, but good preparation pays off.

Ok, those were the core courses you need to complete along the way to become a scuba instructor.   You need to log at least 100 dives by the time you get to the PADI IE.   The courses above don’t amount to that many dives, so you need to go dive and have fun.   Get really familiar with your equipment.  See several dive sites.   Learn techniques from PADI Pros and your fellow divers.    Also consider taking some PADI Specialty courses and become a PADI Master Scuba Diver.   This will help you in your career as an Instructor, because you’ll have found what you like to do when diving.   Those become your passion as an Instructor.   For example, dive medicine and dive emergency are my interest.   I love to teach the PADI Emergency Oxygen course, Rescue Diver and the DAN diving first aid classes–both at the diver and the professional level.

So, how long does it take to become a scuba instructor?   Six months is the minimum, but I suggest you spend a bit more time and get a bit more experience.   Enjoy the journey–I still am.

PADI Instructor Development and DAN Instructor Qualification 2013 Schedule

Here’s the schedule for PADI Instructor Development Courses, IDC Staff Instructor, Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT) prep programs and DAN Instructor Qualification Courses (DAN IQC) for the remainder of 2012 and for 2013.   Unless otherwise noted, programs are conducted at Dive Utah (4679 S 2225 E, Holladay, UT).

New for 2013:   I’m adding two new workshops to the IDC: Intro to Kids Programs and Intro to Sidemount taught by Chris Langehaug (PADI Master Instructor) 

Download a PDF copy of the 2013 PADI Pro and DAN IQC calendar.

2012 Updated Calendar

Oct 13-14 & 20-21   Master Scuba Diver Trainer Program (MSDT prep)


2013 Calendar

January 2 & 3

IDC Staff Instructor Course

January 3 – 11

Instructor Development Course(IDC) and Emergency First Response Instructor Course

January 12 & 13

PADI Instructor Exam, Homestead Resort, Midway, UT

February 1-3

Divers Alert Network Instructor Qualification Course

February 9-10

IDC Staff Instructor Course

February 15-17, February 22-24 and March 1-3

Instructor Development Course(IDC) and Emergency First Response Instructor Course

March 9 & 10

PADI Instructor Exam, Homestead Resort, Midway, UT

May 3 – 5

Divers Alert Network Instructor Qualification Course

June 1-2 & 8-9

Master Scuba Diver Trainer Program

July 20 & 21

Divers Alert Network Instructor Qualification Course

August 17-18

IDC Staff Instructor Course

August 23-25,August 30-Sept 1

September 6-8

Instructor Development Course(IDC) and Emergency First Response Instructor Course

September 14 & 15

PADI Instructor Exam, Homestead Resort, Midway, UT

September 27 – 29

Divers Alert Network Instructor Qualification Course

October 5 -6 & 12-13

Master Scuba Diver Trainer Program (MSDT)

Contact Jon about signing up for any PADI Pro courses or DAN Instructor courses.


Course Calendar

Looking for a course calendar?   Here you go:

Pro Courses [PADI IDC, DAN IQC, PADI MSDT Prep, etc]

July 27-July 29 DAN IQC at Dive Utah, Holladay

Aug 24-26, Aug 31-Sept 2, Sept 7-9  PADI IDC  at Dive Utah, Holladay

Sept 15-16  PADI IE at the Homestead Resort/Crater, Midway, UT

Sept 28-30  DAN IQC at Dive Utah, Holladay

Oct 6-7,13-14  MSDT Prep


Diver Courses

No set schedule at this time.   Contact me to arrange for your scuba training.

I teach some awesome scuba classes including:

  • PADI Open Water Diver, Adventure Diver & Advanced Open Water, PADI Rescue Diver and a ton of specialty courses.
  • DAN Diving First Aid courses to get you ready to handle diving emergencies
  • Emergency First Response CPR & First aid programs–for diving and non-diving emergencies.

I can take you from non-diver to Divemaster in a few months, non-diver to Instructor in slightly more than 6 months and Master Diver Trainer shortly after that.   Let me change your life and you could be working in the tropics, sailing the blue seas and exploring the underwater world…or you can stay where you are, sitting in a cubicle, answering a phone and cussing at your computer.

Beach at Blue Bahia Resort, Roatan, HN

Imagine this as your office!




GoPro!   Become a dive professional and make the ocean your office.


What does it take to become a dive professional?   A deep commitment?  A love of the underwater world?   A desire to share the adventure of exploration?   All of that!

Let’s take a look at the career path options:

  1. Open Water Diver   (everybody has to start somewhere)
  2. Advanced Open Water (expand your skills…sample the things divers do for fun)
  3. Rescue Diver (learn how to prevent and respond to problems)
  4. Specialties  and Master Scuba Diver (while optional, highly recommended; explore those fun things in more depth)
  5. Divemaster–the first rung of the professional ladder.   Guide groups of divers and assist with classes.   Individual and group management skills.
  6. Assistant Instructor–learn how to teach in the classroom, the pool and in open water
  7. Instructor(OWSI)–take your teaching skills further and explore the courses you can teach as an Instructor
  8. Specialty Instructor–learn how to teach specialty areas of diving, sharing your passion with new divers.
  9. Master Scuba Diver Trainer(MSDT)–An instructor than can teach in five specialty areas and has shown their teaching ability by issuing 25 diver certifications.
  10. IDC Staff Instructor–an assistant to a Course Director; involved in all aspects of training new Assistant Instructors and Instructors.
  11. Master Instructor–demonstrated ability to teach at all levels, Open Water through Assistant Instructor and has issues 150 or more certifications at those various levels
  12. Course Director–Instructor Trainer, trains new instructors to teach scuba
  13. Specialty Instructor Trainer–a Course Director that can train new Specialty Instructors


As you can see, the path is as long as you want it to be and as varied as you want.   Start your adventure today!

Look at the 2012 GoPro schedule to see where you want to go this year.


PADI IDC Staff Instructor


What is a PADI IDC Staff Instructor?   Simply put, it’s like being an Assistant Instructor for a PADI Course Director.   IDC Staff Instructors have completed extensive training to train new PADI Assistant Instructors and assist with PADI Instructor Development Courses and PADI Specialty Instructor training.

Why should you become a Staff Instructor?  As almost all instructors will tell you, the PADI Instructor Development Course is pretty intense.   There is a lot of material covered in a short amount of time.   Taking the PADI IDC Staff course allows you to see the Instructor Development process from a different point of view and pick up on a few things that you might have missed during your IDC.   PADI revised the Instructor Development process a couple of years ago.  If your IDC was prior to 2009, you will definitely benefit by seeing the new curriculum.   Since part of the IDC Staff program focuses on evaluation and critiques, it may help you refine your skills when teaching–especially for new PADI Divemaster candidates.   Also, if you’re tracking towards PADI Master Instructor, the PADI IDC Staff Instructor credential is a requirement.

How do you become a PADI IDC Staff Instructor?   There are two routes–auditing a complete IDC or presenting all components of a PADI Assistant Instructor course.   Common to both are some requirements:

* Prerequisite:  You need to be a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT) to enroll in the program.

* Preassessment:  we’ll assess your knowledge of diving theory and PADI Systems, Standards and Procedures with written exams, then wee’ll assess your teaching abilities with both a knowledge development presentation and a confined water presentation.

* Knowledge development:   You’ll participate in four(4) presentations including an Orientation, Instructor Development Standards and Procedures, How to organize and conduct a PADI Assistant Instructor course and the Psychology of Evaluation and Counseling.

* Audit or Teach:   Auditing a complete IDC is probably best, because you’ll see how a full PADI Instructor Development Course is conducted and you’ll get the opportunity to evaluate and critique real instructor candidates.   Option B, teaching all components of a PADI Assistant Instructor course might be better if you have time restrictions and can’t audit a complete IDC.

* Materials:   You will need a PADI Course Director Manual, evaluation slates for confined and open water as well as all materials required for an instructor candidate.


Contact me for more details about IDC Staff Instructor.