Tank Diving

How long does it take to become a certified scuba diving instructor?

Under the PADI system, you must be a certified scuba diver (i.e. Open Water Diver or equivalent) for at least 6 months before you are allowed to start the Instructor Development Course (IDC). So technically, the minimum time to go from non-diver to PADI instructor is 6 months.

However, it's not simply a question of getting your basic OWD, waiting 6 months, and then joining an IDC. During that 6 months, you would have to get certified at every intervening level between OWD and Open Water Scuba Instructor (see http://www.padi.com for the training progression), which means paying for all those courses and their certification fees.

You would also need to rack up your logged dives, since you need at least 60 dives to be certified as a Divemaster, and at least 100 logged dives to be certified as OWSI. That means you'd need to log about 16-17 dives per month (including course training dives). Two-tank dive day trips typically cost 50-100 USD per day (depending on how much equipment needs to be rented, in addition to the tanks and weights).

Ideally for the Divemaster course, and certainly for the IDC, you would be expected to own a full set of scuba gear suitable for guiding/ assisting/ teaching. This gear should be well-fitting and familiar, since you will be expected to perform teaching-quality diveskill demonstrations during both the DM course and IDC. A full set of new scuba gear, including all gauges and signalling devices (but excluding tank and weights) will cost about 1000-2000 USD.

Finally, you would also need to pay all necessary medical/ PADI registration/ PADI examination fees, plus personal liability insurance if you wanted to work as an instructor after qualifying.

And I should also emphasise that the above are the absolute minimum requirements for PADI instructor candidates. Unless you spent those 6 months doing literally nothing except diving, and reading about diving, such a progression would not actually make you a particularly experienced or well-rounded (diver and) instructor.

So the pertinent question -- i.e. the limiting factor for most people -- is really not so much how long it would take, but how much it would cost. I don't think it's unrealistic to suggest that you'd probably be looking at somewhere between 5000 and 10000 USD for the above courses/ dives/ gear/ fees, NOT including living expenses. If you wanted to gain experience of diving in multiple environments (rather than just your local dive spots), you would probably also have to add significant travel expenses to the above.

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