text by Mary Brown
You learn to dive and you love it to bits.
You love it so much you want to teach everyone you meet how to dive too. You dream of jacking in your job and starting a new life in some exotic location by the sea. You could turn this hobby into a career.
To be actually paid to go diving. So many people these days want to learn to dive you could make a fortune! Stop. Take a deep breath. Regain control. Read on.
There are more people wanting to be full time dive instructors than there are jobs to go round. People get passionate about diving. This means that hours are long and wages are low, especially in the UK .
I can't remember how many times I've been told that nobody is in the industry to make money. But money isn't everything and if your motivation isn't being a millionaire - why not got for it. Or if you want to earn a reasonable crust but have an uncontrolled desire to teach then keep the day job and teach as a hobby through a club.
Mary Brown talked to some dive girls who had made the giant stride.
Boring beyond belief...
I went on a solo vacation to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands and my dive instructor was Jonny - oooh, I love those English accents. I ended up permanently leaving New York, selling everything I owned and moving to paradise to be with my man and dive to my hearts content.
I spent my days dive mastering at the shop where Johnny worked. It did not take long for diving to become more of a chore then a pleasure. How many times can you thrill to the wreck of the Rhone? After the 80th visit it does wear a bit thin.
I decided to spend the rest of the money I had left to become an PADI instructor. Another bad move.
I completed the course and after it was all done I realised I had virtually no interest in teaching.
The whole experience was not helped by living on a secluded mountain in a shack of a house with no TV, no hot water and part of the roof blown off due to hurricanes.
I was bored beyond belief. I got so miserable I turned to drugs which is really weird for me. I was always a "Miss Good Head on her Shoulders". After eight months in paradise I had to escape for some normal healthy living.
Thankfully Jonny followed me back and we got married and moved to Florida. He has just has stopped teaching after eight years of it. The business here sucks. It's really hard to earn more than $8 an hour if you work for a centre. Another option is to go to hotels and give millions of free demonstrations in the hope that someone will sign on. That's baad. Anyway we can both now get back to diving for pleasure.
I'm kind of still in the diving industry as I run a T-shirt company called Fish Pie and Jonny's doing a 2 year course in marine mechanics. I don't look back fondly to that evil island - but now life is good. There are other ways to make a living out of diving.
Flo Karp ex PADI Instructor
Visit Flo's T shirts at
Best idea ever!
My parents worked in Indonesia and my Dad took me for a dive out there. At the age of 14 I was hooked. I sat in a rubber ring in the Indian Ocean and decided I was going to be a marine biologist - if such things existed. It gave me the incentive of studying right through to a masters degree. All those books later, there I was stuck in a poxy lab looking at samples and trying to work out how polluted the world is.
It totally depressed me so I got a job as a pollution officer so I could fine the buggers who had made me sit in the lab for so long.
I didn't like that either, maybe my motivation was wrong. I decided to give it all up and carry on with all my dive training where I had started, in Poole, Dorset. I did my PADI Dive Master and Instructor courses and am now working full time as the main instructor at Diving Leisure Unlimited where my first lessons took place. I've now been here four years.
Do I regret it? You wouldn't catch me doing anything else! That's despite the fact it's one of the toughest jobs around. The hours are long and the pay is just about okay.
You are constantly under the threat of being jumped on by someone trying to kill themselves. In the winter I always wish I was somewhere else, but it would still be as an instructor. It's a great thrill to get students, particularly those that struggle, through their qualifications. I love being at sea and in the fresh air - not stuck in an office or lab all the time.
I still get remarks that it's a surprise to find a female instructor. I think we generally make better instructors as we have a bit more patience and empathy with students.
Come on girls, the more girls teaching the more girl divers!
Michelle Gorman PADI Instructor
Diving Leisure Unlimited
Bit of balance
Three years ago I was working in medical education at the University of Oxford when my diving instructor husband was offered a job managing a dive centre in Hurghada. I had never even heard of the place, never mind been there and I had only ever done 21 dives. Within seven weeks we had packed up, rented our house out and moved to the Red Sea in Egypt.
My first impressions were terrible. We couldn't find anywhere to live, the dive centre was run down and nobody spoke any English. I cried every day for a month. But things got better and we found somewhere to live. I became a PADI dive master and enjoyed it on the whole except in winter. The staff had never met a female dive master before and called me "dive missus". We need more women out here!
Things were going well when the aftermath of the Luxor massacre wiped out the business. Bob got a job with the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Agency and I became a house wife for the first time in my life. We are now both working for Easy Divers which is great. I am doing less diving and more finance which is a nice balance.
Some customers on land treat me like a little lady but under the water we are all equal and I have had to hold the hand of many a big man scared of a little fish!
Go back? No, I'll never go back. I've only ever been back once and that was to visit Marks and Spencers! People in England worry about material possessions but they are just not important here. There are completely different values and you have to reevaluate your life. I would recommend living here to anyone. Once you get used to it and into the rhythm there are no down sides. We have been offered our own diving centre in Kenya so move later in the year. I hope that's for life.
Shawn Fletcher, PADI Dive Master
Theresa Simpson started of organising dive trips as a hobby 1982. She now lives in Egypt and runs Emperor Divers the biggest PADI Career Development Centre outside of the US. She has also run schools in both Florida and England.
Theresa Simpson, Regal Diving 0800 0188096
Start off part time - evenings and weekends to see if you like it
When preparing your CV include non-diving experience and occupations. Dive centres are always on the lookout for people with other skills like nurses, mechanics, computer operators and having more than one language helps!
If you want to go abroad try and visit the centre as a customer first.
Don't just think of the diving, think "Can I live in these conditions"
A lot of jobs in diving go to people who happen to be in the right place at the right time.
Hey YOU! Train to be an instructor in the Red Sea
For details of a Women's IDC course (PADI) being held in the gorgeous Red Sea email Scubaway or phone on 01273 746 261