Should I go Pro?

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to be a scuba diving professional? Or even just start a weekend scuba side hustle in addition to your regular job?

First, a warning: if you are a diver, walk into a dive centre and say you are thinking of “Going Pro”, nobody will discourage you or turn you away. Nor will there be an interview.

When you tell a dive centre you want to become a scuba instructor, you are not applying for a job you are buying a product. And the diver training agencies are very good at delivering this product. Very few people fail their instructor course.

However, not many people subsequently succeed in forging a long-term career in scuba diving. Most new instructors quickly decide that the life of a scuba professional is not for them after all. Investing in a dive instructor course, therefore, is a gamble that most people do not turn into a win.

So I have written this short article to help you decide in advance if you have what it takes, so you have a better chance of success.

What talents and attributes do you need in order to have a good shot at career in diving, either full-time or part time?

Dive Technique

Your personal diving skills need to be excellent. As a dive instructor, everything you do in the water needs to be absolutely instinctive in order to permit you to devote 100% of your attention to your students and / or the divers you are looking after.


Your diving knowledge needs to be well above the level you are teaching. Develop wider knowledge in other subjects related to diving, such as marine biology, human physiology and psychology, gas physics and decompression theory. When you teach, you don’t just parrot what the manuals say. You have to understand the background to what you are telling people.


Dive as much as you can, in as many different environments and conditions as possible. Stay within your personal comfort zone but try to push the envelope out little by little. When you pass on your knowledge, you are more credible if you are speaking from a reservoir of personal experience.


You need to want to be a teacher. If you are already a teacher or a trainer in another walk of life and you like what you are doing, this is ideal. If teaching does not excite you, you will not remain a dive instructor for long.

People Skills

As a dive professional, you have to be a people person, because your whole day will be spent interacting with people. Sympathy and empathy are key attributes for success.


Groups of divers are composed of freethinking, unpredictable, excitable individuals who can disrupt your carefully laid plans in an instant. The limits of a dive instructor’s ability to remain calm are tested every day.

Time Management

It is crucial for a dive instructor to know how to manage time. Whether you are teaching a course or leading a group of divers, your time is always limited. You have to exercise time discipline yourself and ensure that your students and customers do the same, all without spoiling the fun.


You will be competing in a job market where everyone has your diving qualifications and more. So, to improve your chances of finding work, you should also have other skills. Being able to speak several languages will make you more employable, as will a work background as a mechanic or in the hospitality, service or travel industries. Normally, you will find yourself part of a small company, so some understanding of things like accountancy, marketing, staff management and cash flow is very useful.


You need to be physically and mentally fit. Full-time scuba instructors dive between fifteen and thirty times a week and work long hours. A lot of that time involves hauling gear and loading and unloading trucks and boats. You have to be able to keep going even when you are exhausted and then get up the following morning with a spring in your step and a smile on your face to do it all again. There is not much downtime and, in high season, there is very little time off.

Finally, bear in mind that a dive professional is always “on stage”, keeping the customers happy and entertained. Even if you are not in a good mood, you can never let it show.

Maybe that is the most important quality of all...

...and the most challenging to maintain.