Climbing The PADI Pro Ladder

I’m living the dream. I’ve got a job that most people are jealous of – I’m a PADI Instructor.

Bright Lights – Big City

Here is a little story about myself. My names Nicole Yong and I’m from Kuala Lumpur, the largest and most modern city in Malaysia. Four years ago, I had a stable, ‘normal’ job, working weekdays, from 8.00am to 6.00pm. During the weekends, I would head to a shopping mall in town, watch a movie, shop ’till I drop and treat myself to a decent meal and a couple of drinks to end the day.

PADI Instructor Course - Koh Tao, Thailand

Sounds perfect? Well I thought my life was until a spontaneous scuba diving trip changedmy so called perfect life forever.

Castaway On A Topical Paradise

Now I’m living on a beautiful island, Koh Tao, for over 3 years. Nothing is better than having your workplace right on the beach, with a perfect sea view and stunning sunsets almost every evening. I guess that’s why a PADI instructor is a dream job for almost everyone.

Divemaster Internship Program

Koh Tao DivingI become a PADI Pro when I completed the PADI Divemaster Internship program in 2013. I took around 6-7 weeks to complete the entire Internship.

It’s the first step on the PADI professional ladder. At Crystal Dive, I signed up to the Rescue to DM Lifestyle package because it includes the two week ‘Working Internship program’.

It was a fantastic learning experience, introducing me to how one of the world’s most popular 5 Star PADI dive center operates.

Boat & Equipment logistics, scheduling divers and student, guiding certified divers around the dive sites, and competently conducting DM Programs. All are essential skills and knowledge you need if you intend to work as a Divemaster in the scuba diving industry.

Upon completion of the Divemaster program, and the ensuing two-week working internship program, my hard workpaid off – I’m offered a positionand begin working in the Crystal Dive DM team.

Do What You Love – Never Work Another Day In Your Life

Working a job you love and getting paid for it. I believe this is what people dream of and my dream I has come true. I’m living the dream!

PADI Instructor Course - Koh Tao, ThailandInvaluable Experience – Personal Development

I worked as part of the Crystal Dive DM team for 18 months. My role wasn’t just a case of guiding divers around Koh Tao’s dive sites and showing them the underwater world.

There is much more to it than that.

You are very much on the front line, especially during high season. We do need to be in the office, checking customers in, answering phone calls, servicing dive centre equipment, tidying the kit room or stationed in the retail shop to name a few duties.

I can say, without doubt, that during this period, my professional scuba diving career was the best. Not only did it provide an invaluable foundation to build the rest of my Professional diving career around but it was also my first experience of living outside my country and getting to know people from all around the world.

The Next Step – The PADI Instructor Development Course

I decided to become an Instructor so I could take the next step on the PADI Pro ladder, and the next natural progression in my professional scuba diving career. I wanted to learnhow to teach people to dive! From a water work perspective, a PADI Divemaster can only guide certified diver around a dive site, or conduct a scuba review to refresh their skills and knowledge. They are not qualified to teach yet. With the experience I had gained over the previous year and a half, I think I’m ready for it.

PADI Instructor Course - Koh Tao, Thailand

The PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) is scheduled over 14 days. I still remember how nervous and stressed I was at the beginning when sitting in the classroom on the first day. The course was a challenge, and sitting in a classroom, studying for dive theory exams was definitely not “my cup of tea”. However, when it came to the waterwork; the confined water presentations in the swimming pool and the open water teaching presentation in the ocean, I loved it!

I think some of that was because I have ‘done it’ for some time..!!

PADI Instructor Course - Koh Tao, ThailandWorking in the Divemaster team involved conducting scuba reviews and giving dive briefing for certified divers certainly made me feel a lot more at ease with the during the IDC.

And of course, having a team of super experienced Platinum Course Directors, who all did a great job, made things almost easy!

The Exam

The most straightforward part of the whole Instructor Development process! I passed my Instructor Exam, with flying colours with my best scores of the entire 2 weeks.

It feels so great! You will feel like you are at the top of the world – I’m PADI Instructor! Ha!

Taking It Further – PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer

So now, I have got my PADI OWSI status, my next step is to become a Specialty Instructor and gain enough experience to become a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. To apply for the MSDT, I have to certify at least 25 students as well as have at least 5 Specialty Instructor ratings.

I have chosen my all-time favorite specialties– Deep, Wreck, Nitrox, O2 provider and Underwater Navigation. Our Course Directors conducted each Instructor Specialty course. You are required to present a knowledge development presentation, understand the standards and procedures specific to each Specialty, and participate in the specific training dives where the Course Director will show you the correct techniques and give some tips to teach the specialty course.

The Deep specialty is my favorite! I remember we dived at Chumphon Pinnacle, got to 40m and got narked whilst doing the narcosis test. It was lots of fun!

Once you complete the specialty training you will have already received your teaching status. You are now ready to start team teaching! The whole team teaching idea is fantastic and has huge benefits. It gave me the opportunity to learn from Crystal’s most experienced Instructors, whilst picking up the PADI certifications I needed to apply for PADI MSDT rating.

At Crystal, the Operations Manager, Neil Davidson, will schedule the Instructors who are teaching the courses. He will help schedule you to team teach with the most experienced instructors so you learn from them and get valuable tips, suggestions and advice, as well as some great teaching techniques.

I have to certify at least 25 students and then, under supervision of one of Crystal’s Master Instructors have a final evaluation to ensure I’m ready to start teaching as an Instructor at Crystal Dive.

To be honest, I felt quite confident in myself as I’d already got 18 months previous work experience in the DM Team. This helps me a lot, especially for in water control or dealing with student problems. I also know the dive sites well, and understand the environmental conditions.

PADI Instructor Course - Koh Tao, ThailandLife As A PADI Elite Instructor

And so, that’s the start of my PADI instructor life. What to do now? Well, I teach people how to dive!

It sounds awesome doesn’t it?

I meet people from all around the world, making new, cool friends. Scuba Diving really doesn’t have any boundaries. I have taught for over a year since now and I’m still loving my job, and my life. Of course, not every day is lots of fun in the sun!

We do facing challenges. As a professional diving instructor, you will have to be patient to deal with the learning difficulties and the everyday challenges.

Mostly, I teach Chinese courses but once in a while I will teach an English course too. In the past year, I have got 150 PADI certifications under my belt and PADI gave me a reward – PADI Elite instructor.

Back To Study

So, 18 months as a PADI Instructor, “Living the Dream” on a beautiful tropical island, working a job I love. But what next? I’m thinking to go higher, keep going up that ladder until I cannot go any further. My next logical step would be to becomea PADI IDC Staff Instructor.

So, I decided to walk back in to that classroom to study. Oh my god! The Classroom! I don’t need reminding how I felt the first time I sat in the classroom during the IDC. It’s stressful!

PADI Instructor Course - Koh Tao, ThailandBut, Haha! It wasn’t the same this time around. I’m sitting at the back of the classroom watching the candidates. Now, I feel the tension from the candidates, just the same as I was feeling a year and a half ago.

This time, I feel relaxed. I have the knowledge and the skills; of course I do still have to do an exam and staff presentations to pass my PADI Staff Instructor course.

But, all these have become easy for me now with the real life teaching experience I possess.

During the PADI Staff Instructor course, I learn how to evaluate the IDC candidate’s presentations, critique and offer feedback. It’s fun because you will listen so hard to their presentation and try to catch what they have missed. Whenever I catch a missed point, I’m like “Ha! I catch ya! (with a grin on my face)”.

I love the evaluation part! I enjoyed passing on my knowledge and experience to help improve the IDC candidate’s presentations and improving their abilities as they work towards their dream of becoming PADI Instructors.
To me, the entire PADI Staff Instructor course is fun and relaxing. You will be proud of yourself at the end of the IDC because you are part of the team, that trains the candidates to be Instructors. You see them go through the ‘tough’; period. You support them, advise and guide them.
Last but not least, a big thank you to Crystal Dive’s Course Director team; Matt, Suki, Bob and Dex for their guidance throughout all my Instructor level training.

PADI Instructor Certificates

Now, I’m PADI Staff Instructor! What’s next? Will I go up to Master Instructor? God knows….

Well, now I’m just going to grab a cold Leo and enjoy the sunset at the bar. Until then..??

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