Sep 2017

Becoming a Divemaster

By Mike Waddington

If you are dreaming of living on tropical beaches and spending your days in the sun and sea, or you are deeply interested in the natural world and want to spend your days passively observing nature then maybe you should become a Divemaster. Becoming a Divemaster is actually much easier than most people think, just a quick Google search will find countless dive schools advertising internships and programs. But what if you have only done your Open Water course, or have never been diving before but know that the divers’ life is for you? Luckily becoming a Divemaster does not need to be some missed dream, as a program has been developed just people divers with little or no experience. ‘Zero to Hero’ is a term used a lot in the scuba diving industry, especially in areas that also attract a large number of backpackers or travelers, and a Zero to Hero program is aimed at future Divemasters with little or no experience.

‘Zero to Hero’ Divemaster Training

The goal of a Zero to Hero program is to take inexperienced individuals from being to newbie to expert in only a few months. Usually the programs are between 2 and 3 months, however if the applicant already has some experience then this time can be shortened. As a Divemaster you will be required to supervise divers, conduct dive reviews, assist instructors and be available to help divers with whatever they might want or need. Because of the nature of diving, and its potential hazards it is essential that all Divemasters are more than capable of safely supervising divers and handling emergencies. The Divemaster candidate will be tested many times over the course of their Divemaster program with tasks such as leading dives, organising and taking control of boat trips, supervising student level divers, checking divers in and out of the water and even washing gear at the end of the day. Of course all of these tasks are completed under strict supervision of an instructor, who is also assessing how well these tasks were completed and giving advice on improvements that need to be made.


If you are not a certified diver the first steps will be completing the prerequisite courses such as Open Water or Rescue Diver. Once the diver is at the level where they can begin the Divemaster portion they will receive all their manuals and other reading material. The Divemaster course has a fairly large portion of theory to go with the practical side, which will be reviewed by the instructor, and tested at the end of the course with an exam. Then the in water training can begin, the candidate will take part in workshops that focus on skill demonstrations, or dive with other candidates and create an accurate and usable map. There are also many tasks that need to be completed at the surface too, such as giving detailed and clear dive briefings, guiding snorkelers making sure that everyone who got into the water gets out before leaving the dive site.

What does a Divemaster do?

As a Divemaster candidate you will spend a lot of time working with the instructional team. They will teach you the best way to supervise a group, how to spot problems before they happen, and how to deal with them if they do happen. This new knowledge will be tested by assisting the instructors when they teach student divers. The candidate may be asked to lead a dive, demonstrate a skill or simply to watch the divers and help keep an eye on them. Usually the trainee Divemaster assist instructors on a few courses or dive experiences before they complete the program. This allows them to slowly be given more responsibility and also allows the instructional team to how they are progressing.

Where can I become a Divemaster?

Zero to hero programs are conducted all over the world, but most commonly found in places of high where travelers and backpackers frequent. Places like Koh Tao in Thailand, Bali in Indonesia or Cairns in Australia have a large amount on offer. Many newly qualified divers choose to sign up for Divemaster programs after completing the Open Water course, feeling that they have found a good way to make a living out of having a great life! I believe it is a good idea to take the course in areas of high diver traffic, as working with bigger groups will make you better at dealing with multiple problems at once (dealing with 4 divers at once is harder than dealing with 1). I would also recommend that you should take the program at a dive centre that offers extensions to the program, such as boat handling, equipment maintenance, videography or Instructor courses. This way if you feel that you want to become more qualified and stick out from the crowd then you can take more programs with the divers you already know well.

If you feel that you could live the life of a Divemaster, but haven’t taken your first underwater breath then before you sign up I would recommend taking a Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) program at home. Although most people love diving, a few people just do not like it or do not feel comfortable being underwater. It would be a shame to travel half way around the world, and spend a lot of money on something that you don’t enjoy doing. A DSD is a single dive experience that can be conducted in half a day, and can even be done in a swimming pool. After taking your first underwater breaths you will know if diving is for you or not.

If you have already decided that becoming a Divemaster is for you, and you already know that diving is the sport for you then start having a look today. Compare what different dive schools offer, how much they cost, if they speak the languages you speak, and whatever else you feel is important. Remember that becoming a dive professional is not some distant achievement that take years, you can change your life in only a few months, and I have never met anyone who regrets going from ‘zero to hero’.

‘Becoming a Divemaster’ was written by Mike

Photo credit: PADI

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Mike Waddington

I first discovered diving in 2008 after going snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. After trying diving at a flooded quarry in England I decided to head out to warmer more interesting waters in Thailand where I ended on the Island of Koh Tao completing my Open Water course. Instantly addicted with money to spend and plenty of time on my hands I decided to continue until I became a Divemaster so I could live what seemed as the perfect life.

After that I headed to the Caribbean to an island called Utila to complete my instructor course, I spent several months out there completing the MSDT internship, teaching students and leading dives. This is also where I discovered my interest in the technical side of diving, taking part in equipment repair courses and learning about blending gasses and running compressors.

With all my new qualifications it was time to head back to where it had all started, Back to Koh Tao where I intended on living the dream. Once I arrived I quickly found a job and started teaching straight away. During my time on Koh Tao I took part in all many technical diving courses, learning how to dive with re-breathers, in caves and even going down to 90m/300ft!


PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer
PADI/DSAT Tech Deep Instructor
PADI/DSAT Gas Trimix Gas Blender
PADI/DSAT Trimix Diver
TDI Intro to Cave Diver
TDI Advanced Wreck Diver
TDI Inspiration rebreather Decompression Procedures
PADI Professional Videographer
BSAC Compressor Operator
TDI Equipment Service Technician

Dream Dive Locations:

Silfra, Iceland
Cenotes, Mexico
Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia
Ice Diving in Russia