Candidate Spotlight!

James Clack2

Our next candidate spotlight is on James Clack who completed his IDC with the London IDC at Diving Leisure London in 2014:

‘Having completed my divemaster in the summer of 2013 I was confident that a career in diving was something I wanted. After getting lots of advice from friends who are also dive professionals I was convinced to take the next step forward and complete my IDC and become a PADI instructor.

Due to the timings of the European dive season this only left me the winter to get this done. Having looked around London for an Course Director I came across Alex. I told him about my needs but also that I had no experience with cold water diving before. We met in the early January and began the course. Having proved my skills in the swimming pool we were able to focus on my main weakness; the written exams! Having never focused too much on the written side of diving I knew Alex would have to be patient with me but when the weekend of the exam came there were no problems and I passed. At the Easter I flew back out to Sicily where I completed my first full season as an instructor.

When I had completed this I knew I wanted to keep furthering my dive education so I made contact with Alex again and we made plans for me to take the MSDT course over the first weekend of November. Yet again time to dust off the dry suit! Following the completion of the course I was able to apply to a wider variety of jobs and I soon received an offer to go and work on the Pacific coast of Mexico. This was a huge opportunity and I completed a full 10 month season out there!

As for 2016 bring on Australia and the Great Barrier Reef!’

James Clack1

Candidate Spotlight!

Vanessa Baxter

This is the start of a regular spotlight on some of our successful candidates. Kicking us off is Vanessa Baxter who completed the IDC with Big Squid Dive centre in March 2015. After doing a bit of instructing in the UK, warmer climes came calling and now she’s working full time overseas as a Dive Officer at Frontier Tanzania located on Mafia Island.

Vanessa Baxter

In her words:

“Frontier Tanzania is a marine conservation outpost that works with the Tanzanian Marine Park, mainly the marine conservation reserve on Mafia Island to help protect and preserve the coral reefs and seas from over fishing and destruction from human activity.

My job responsibilities is to foresee all diving operations, including the boat maintenance, engine, safety and training, financial budgets and administration.

Alex couldn’t have prepared me any better for the IE and life within the dive industry! He has the ability to deliver massive amounts of information clearly and professionally, whilst maintaining an extremely laid back, fun and non stressful persona. His teaching techniques were also very modern and relevant to the PADI IDC. I can’t thank him enough for his patience and dedication during and after the IE!”

VB IE

Vaness Baxter passing her IE in March 2015!

Some FAQs about the Instructor Course

Q. Is it a good idea to become a Scuba Instructor?

A. Yes of course and it will make you more attractive too.

Q. I’ve just learnt to dive and now all I want to do is become an instructor and disappear somewhere hot. Am I being crazy?

A. No that’s exactly how I felt, so that’s pretty much what I did. I started my IDC a week after my 100th dive so I certainly don’t think people need to go and do masses of diving to ‘get good’. You’ll need to do a bit of work and build those dives up but it needn’t take ages and is completely achievable.

Q. What do I need to have done to become a Diving Instructor?

A. You’ll need to have completed Open Water, Advanced, Rescue and Divemaster through the PADI system (or another training agency-crossovers are usually fairly simple). You’ll need 100 dives. If you’re struggling to get the dives up then can I heartily recommend a Red Sea Liveaboard? They’re a fantastic way to get about 20 dives in a week. You’ll also need experience in deep, night and search and recovery diving (best bet is to get the specialities). You’ll need to be declared medically fit and then you’re pretty much good to go.

Q. Will I be able to get a job in the dive industry?

A. Let’s assume that you are a friendly, reasonable person and a competent diver then the short answer is ‘yes, no problem. The longer answer is that full time jobs in the industry are usually abroad but if you’re prepared to go overseas then work can be found easily through the PADI jobs board and once you’re ‘in’ you’ll find out about more opportunities. In the UK most dive centres are crying out for weekend instructors, especially through the summer. It’s a part time occupation which most people do on top of a normal job but it’s immensely fulfilling. However there are fulltime opportunities in the UK if you’re prepared to seek them out and put yourself forward.

Q. Will I be showered with riches?

A. Er no. This isn’t a job you do if you want to get rich. You should receive payment for your work but If you’re primary motivation is money then you might want to re-think….

Q. Do I need to have excellent skills to start the IDC?

A. You don’t need to have them nailed to perfection but you should be comfortable and familiar with them. That’s part of the Divemaster Course. If you’re rusty or want a little more practice it’s a good idea to get a pool session in before the IDC starts.

Q. I’ve read through the website blurb about the IDC but what exactly does it all mean?

A. The IDC is about teaching you to use an educational system which becomes the foundation of how you teach. What that means is that you’ll learn how to put together classroom presentations where you use a template to make sure you hit all the required points. The idea is that you can use the template to put together any teaching presentation. The same applies to the confined and open water stuff. You’ll use a structure where you show control of the group, problem solving and use of your Divemaster. It all follows a logical process and most people eventually click into it fairly easily. You’ll just keep on practicing until you’re happy and then it’s off to the IE

 

The London IDC June 2014

The second London IDC has just finished this time with Aquanaut and Dive Wimbledon candidates. The ethos of the London IDC is to bring quality London dive centres together to pool their candidates to make much busier IDCs. This has a double advantage, for the dive centres it makes the IDCs a more profitable enterprise but it also makes the IDCs more enjoyable and useful for the candidates, IDCs benefit from having larger groups as the candidates can watch multiple presentations of a variety of different skills as well as seeing how different dive centres do things in slightly different ways.

We began on Friday night with a skill circuit at Putney Leisure Centre.  In total we had 5 IDC candidates (Rick, Sam, Wiktor, Cheryl and Mark), 2 Staff Instructor candidates (Billy and Laura), 3 Staff Instructors (Kristine, Steve and Geoff) and me. Coordination is the key to things like this and it was immensely helpful to have Staff Instructors along too to help with the evaluations. This is another massive advantage of running bigger groups in that it means there’s a real need for the Staff Instructors to come along and help out. The skills were already at a really high standard so things were looking good for the rest of the program.

Putney pool

Looking good in the pool,. Thanks to John Southill for the great picture

We also had a plan to workshop some of the new open water course skills too so we had some DMs and other instructors along as well as Lynne the owner of Aquanaut. It can be a little intimidating even for big, bad Course Directors like myself(!) to suddenly have about 16 faces swivel towards you and watch you demonstrate new skills but we all had fun trying the emergency weight drop and tightening a loose cam band. By the end of the session we had everyone hovering in horizontal trim which was a fantastic sight to see!

Classroom

Pizza in the classroom. Note sun outside

The next day was spent in the classroom doing lectures. Sam amused us all with his non digital, unbound version of the instructor manual which caused him endless frustration in every lecture that required the candidates to check standards (pretty much all of them). Pizza was consumed, coffee was drunk and the day was done. The next morning saw us at the pool practicing our confined teaching presentations. The pool was at a posh public school but something had happened to the water (maybe they had dissolved naughty pupils in it) which meant it was somewhat cloudy. We took this in good spirits as preparation for open water the next weekend and everyone did incredibly well.

Instructor manual woes

Sam discovering he’s in the wrong section again

In the afternoon we headed back to the classroom for teaching presentations, where Sam amused us again by wrapping paper around a workbook and calling it a PPB manual. They love stuff like that on an IE.

Not a PPB manual

Not a PPB manual

I then jetted off to Malta for some sidemount fun(it’s a hard life) before zooming straight back to Heathrow the following saturday morning and directly from there to Wraysbury. I had one of those mornings where the world aligns for you and I landed at Heathrow at 9.25 and was at Wraysbury just after 10. After the sunshine in Malta and the sunshine whilst we were all locked up in the classroom the previous weekend, the UK obliged by sending a torrential downpour for most of the day, leading to the use of a transit van as the base for delivering dive briefings.

Once in the water the vis wasn’t fantastic and once again the candidates did a superb job running their teaching presentations in some tough conditions. They cracked straight on unaware of the ariel jostling for position amongst the evaluators trying to get in close enough to grade the proceedings.

We ended the day with some knots and lift bags and a DSD workshop that saw the candidates attempting to control some really quite abysmal DSD students. It was another excellent day.

Our last day was spent in the classroom wrapping up lectures and finishing up in the Aquanaut shop before a celebratory beer and paperwork sorting at the Norbiton and Dragon.

Aquanaut

Aquanaut

Massive well done to all the candidates for working so hard and all the staff instructors who came along and assisted on the program too, it wouldn’t have gone so smoothly without you.

Bring on the IE!

Speciality Instructor training

To be a fully rounded instructor regardless of where you’re teaching there are a few specialities that you need to have under your belt. Here in the UK the most important ones are drysuit, deep, search and recovery, wreck and nitrox. If you can teach these specialities you’ll be more employable and more likely to get to do a wider variety of courses than just running referrals in the pool! Specialities are the most fun courses to teach, you’re usually dealing with qualified divers wanting to learn new skills, that means you’re not trying to ‘sell diving’ to someone you’re teaching them new cool stuff. It’s also really important to be able to up-sell from an Advanced Course to specialities as this will often be a newer divers first taste of activities like wreck or drysuit.

Teaching lining off

Teaching lining off

I do a ‘UK Specs Weekend’ that covers these 5 specialities. This also primes you for MSDT as you require 5 specialties to qualify and means you can then go onto Staff Instructor and then hopefully help out on our IDCs!

Earning instructor specialities is a little more involved than many people think. For each speciality, amongst other things, you’ll need to do a knowledge development presentation and then in water demonstrate all skills involved including running an open water teaching presentation just like you did on the IDC. If a speciality has 2-3 dives then most of the time the instructor speciality can be conducted in 1. If the speciality has 4 dives then it’s 2 at instructor level.

I normally run the course as follows:

Day 1:

Drysuit: 1 dive

Search and recovery: 2 dives

Nitrox: Theory only, no dives

Day 2:

Deep: 1 dive (based on deep run as a 3 dive course)

Wreck: 2 dives.

As you can see this is a full program and we cover lots of stuff: Skills, drills and tips for teaching drysuit and search and recovery and then a lot on the control and supervision of deep and wreck courses which is vital to understand in the UK. I have heard of some individuals getting over 10 specialities signed off in a weekend. This isn’t possible and should raise a few eyebrows if offered.

Mark and plane

Mark using a real plane as a non diving related training aid!

The weekend can be run alongside an IDC before candidates attend an IE. This can be really useful as it gives another weekend practising the skills required to pass the IE. The candidates simply process the speciality instructor certs after completing the IE.

The cost of a UK Specs Weekend is £500 as an added bonus I’ll also let you come back on another weekend and complete any other specs you might be interested in, for example Equipment, SMB or navigation!

See here for a full list of available specialities courses