Those interested in becoming scuba certified and experienced divers looking to continue their education, need to look at their options when choosing an Instructor.
The following is a list of tips and questions to use while conducting your research in choosing a scuba instructor. This applies to the new diver and those looking for continuing education.
Ask for references. If you know someone who is certified or has taken the training you are interested in, ask them about their instructor. Instructors prosper by word of mouth. For a student to give their instructor a recommendation is a great honor and should be the goal of every instructor. Ask them what they liked and disliked about the instructor.
How long have you been teaching? Experience is important but also a double edge sword. As a new dive student, you want someone who has experience dealing with new students and all the issues that may arise during class. An experienced instructor will have the tendency to be more proactive and solve issues before they arise. Plus, they have the experience needed to know how to adapt their teaching to fit your style of learning. However, an experienced instructor may be a little more complacent with the standards. There are those out there who may teach to the minimum standards and just want to get you through the class. When talking to your prospective new instructor some of this may come out. If you do not feel comfortable with them, move on and find someone else.
How many students have you certified? Time as an instructor does not mean more experience. The Scuba industry breeds many a part time instructors.
How many students have you certified at this level? If the instructor has certified very few students at this level, they may not be familiar with the curriculum and material. You want someone who knows the material & curriculum.
What type of continuing education have you done for yourself in the past year? “He who stops being better stops being good.”— Oliver Cromwell If an instructor stops learning, they stop being good, and may become complacent. Taking classes challenges the instructor to do better. Thinking one knows all they need to know can lead to disaster.
How many hours is the class? This is not an easy question but one that must be asked for economical reasons. A beginner, class does not need to take 101 hours. However, the more hours of training, in theory, the more information being conveyed and time to master the skills. The real question comes down to what is the minimum number of hours. Usually, smaller classes need less time.
How many people will be in my class? Generally, any more than 8 people in a pool session is probably overcrowding a class. Lower numbers are better for you.
What type of diving do you do for fun/ when was the last time? If an instructor does not take the time to dive for himself, he will not be as fun to learn from. An instructor must have passion. You want someone who enjoys diving for the sake of diving. Also, if you are looking for advance classes you want an instructor who regularly engages in that type of diving. For example: If you want to take a deep diving specialty course, you do not want an instructor who has not been past 100 feet in the past 2 years.
After talking with the potential instructor, ask yourself:
Was the instructor patient? If not or they talked down to you, while answering these questions, they will probably have the same trait during class. You want a patient instructor that will allow you to learn at your speed.
Would I be happier learning from a man or woman? This is up to you, Poor instructors are not limited to one or the other. However, since this is a physical sport, you may want someone with the same physical concerns as you.
Would I let this instructor take my loved ones underwater? If the answer is no, move on and find one that you would. There are inherent risks in scuba diving; you want someone you can trust. Scuba diving is a lifetime of adventure. Finding the right mentor and role model is essential in developing your dive path.