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Choosing a Scuba instructor

An instructor in a pool with students.
An instructor in a pool with students.
competent instructors make competent divers

Gone are the days of boot camp style scuba instruction where push-ups were a pre-class warm up.  Nowadays scuba instructors are made up of more than just ex-drill sergeants so choosing a scuba instructor can be difficult with the many options available.  If you do a quick search you will notice many shops and individual instructors.  So, how do you know what to look for?

The first way you can find out about an instructor is by word of mouth.  You may know someone who has been certified and they can tell you about his/her experience with a particular instructor.  This person will not have all the details about the class so it is still very important you go to meet the instructor prior to signing up for the class.

When you meet the instructor you can now start forming your own opinions about him/her.  The instructor will explain every detail about the class, including the risks that are involved.  During this initial conversation you will notice if the instructor has everything in order and is organized.  Organization is a critical skill an instructor should possess. 

Once you form your first impressions of the instructor you may now want to ask some questions.  You can start by explaining what your interests are concerning scuba, and see if they match those of the instructor.  You may be very interested in marine life so it would be nice to have an instructor with the same interest.  You can ask the instructor about his/her experience, and how much local diving he/she has done.  It is important that your instructor have local diving experience.  If you would like to check the instructor's credentials you can check his/her c-card (certification card) or check with his/her agency.

Other things to consider when choosing an instructor is what else they can offer you.  You may want to find out about clubs, discounts, equipment deals, free DAN insurance while in class, free magazine subscriptions, etc.  Instructors and dive shops come up with a variety of ways to get students and new customers and you can benefit from them.

It may seem like a complicated way to choose an instructor but this is a person you may be spending a lot of time with.  It is not just one class.  You may choose to take multiple classes with them and they may lead local dives that you want to participate in.  He/she may work in the shop and can help you with purchases.  The important thing to remember is a good instructor is going to make your underwater time much more enjoyable.


  • JMRN 5 years ago

    This article will be so helpful to people who are looking to take up scuba diving as part of their next vacation. It makes you think that getting certified before in your local area is probably far more wise, since the short resort courses are not always to be trusted. Choosing an instructor is a critical part of diving since your safety underwater will ultimately be your responsibility. Great article!

  • Chris P 5 years ago

    Nice article.

    I can't agree more that the best way to select an instructor is by word of mouth and references. I don't suggest just walking into a store and signing up for a course without knowing a bit about the instructor. And an instructor with local experience is quite important especially if you are planning to shore dive on NE's rocky coast with the currents and tough entries and exits.

    I must also add that the Dive Masters must be competent as they will be just as crucial for the safety of the students as the instructor is. I recall one student so overweighted that all the air in her BC barely kept her afloat as DM's carried on not noticing her. I myself was overweighted by about 15 lbs when I did my emergency accent drill with the BC inflater disconnected and barely made it to the surface. Both of these situations were delegated to the Dive Masters.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Erin 5 years ago

    Thank you so much for this very helpful article. I have been interested in Scuba diving for some time now, but have been overwhelmed by the best way to get started. This article has given me a way to start!!
    Thanks again!

  • Mike 5 years ago

    I'll be sure to consider everything when I look for my scuba teacher in the future!

  • Megan 5 years ago

    very informative article. It will help me a lot when looking for an instructor.

  • Jeremy 5 years ago

    Interesting article. I didn't know that scuba diving instructors used to be like drill sergeants.

  • Jose 5 years ago

    Awesome article!!! I wish I read this about 18 months ago. I took my class with a local YMCA instructor and was not completely satisfied. I got the education I needed, but I really didn't like his personality. I probably wouldn't take other classes with him. I am glad that I got certified and I am looking forward to future classes (with a different instructor). This time I will use the advice I received in this article. Thanks again Mike.

  • LMD 5 years ago

    Good advice! The instructor can make or break your first experience with diving. Word of mouth and a little research can help set you up. Like a lot of things, if your first experience isn't fun it can set the tone for whether you persue diving or not. They can also help you find someone to be a "guide" when you go somewhere on vacation. I enjoy these easy informative articles. Way to go. I look forward to reading more.

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