Divers heading out on the waters off the Upper Keys experienced decent diving conditions, and that was great for our students who went through professional level classes.  

The Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) is the primary scuba certifying agency in the world. They have scuba courses ranging from basic open water class through professional scuba instructor. A diver interested in making scuba diving a career would follow the PADI path to become what’s considered a “professional.”  That is a divemaster or an instructor. A diver would need one of these certified ratings in order to work as a diver in the industry.   

Once the decision is made to change your life and work in a paradise somewhere in the world, you need to start your path to become a professional. It begins as an certified open water diver.  The next step is to obtain your advanced diver certification. This class doesn’t require any classroom sessions; it requires some independent reading and conducting five adventure dives with an instructor. Two of those dives must be a navigation dive and a deep dive; the other three are a choice by the student from a list of 13 adventure dives. Some of the more popular options are drift, wreck and photography. 

Your next step is “rescue diver.” This class is an incredible learning experience for any diver regardless if they are going pro or not. It teaches divers rescue scenarios that could happen while diving and how to handle them. The amount of “dive confidence” you’ll come out with after this class is amazing.  

Once you’ve completed your rescue course you are now ready to start your professional-level courses. The first step is the divemaster course. The divemaster course will transform you from a passionate diver into a dive leader. Expand your knowledge of scuba diving concepts and equipment through independent study. Gain leadership abilities through practical workshops with an instructor mentor.

As a divemaster, you’ll supervise scuba diving activities and assist with scuba classes. Divemaster is the first step in your diving career. In the Keys, divemasters guide divers around our beautiful wrecks and reefs and assist instructors with certain scuba classes. If you want to take your diving career one step further, you can become a scuba instructor. If you like people, have a passion for scuba diving and want an extraordinary life, become a PADI instructor. 

If you’re passionate about diving, our oceans and working in a paradise-like environment, reach out to your local PADI career development center and get more information on how to start your road to adventure and happiness.

Eric Billips is is the owner, captain and instructor at Islamorada Dive Center and Floridia Keys Dive Center. He specializes in scuba, rebreather, spearfishing and captaining in the Florida Keys