The unknown facts of being a dive instructor

By June 4, 2015 34 Comments

Everybody who is not a dive instructor thinks it is the dream job. And it is pretty much…

All the diving instructors will tell you the same:

– Sometime you work 12 hours in a row but it’s OK you are diving

– 23°C is very cold water. But there is plenty of gostpipe fish.

– “Yes! the water is salty!”

– Your hair changes color

– You know what DMT, SPG, AOW, BCD, CESA, DSD, SMB, OW means.

– You too, can have ear problems.

– A snorkel test has nothing to do with your snorkelling skills.

– People may exaggerate when they say they are good swimmers.

– Your sick of your parents telling you to come back to “real life”.

– You have to explain to your friends back “home” that a weekend doesn’t exist.

– Breakfast With Rice And Fish, Bruce Willis Rocks/Ruins Action Films, Bangkok Women Really Are Fellas, Because We Really Are Fish, Burger With Relish And Fries, British Women Really Are Fantastic…

– Talking underwater is not a problem for you.

– “Yes… That Parrot fish is beautiful… please show me more…”

– Sharks are friends not food.

– All the girls look at you with love (sometimes the boys too)

– You are a full grown up, and a professional, but still sometimes have to deal with nappy rash.

– “No, the underwater photographer is not taking pictures from the boat. he is coming diving with us.”

– You have signed as many autographs as Georges Clooney.

– Pay is quite low, but when you are working 15 days in a row it is good money.

– We were all DMTs once…

– Dive, eat, sleep. Repeat.

– CESA is not a salad.

– “Yes… you gonna have some water in your ear…”

– You have to deal with disappointment when you show your costumers a Glossodoris hikuerensis nudibranch and no one cares.

– Patience…

– You might have bad visibility underwater. Who cares, it is whale shark season!

As underwater videographers and photographers, part of our job is to follow instructors like Thom on their everyday tasks, taking care of Discover Scuba Divers, teaching Open Water Courses…

Here is a Gallery of the Instructor’s Life

** If you want to know what the acronyms mean, just ask a dive instructor.. or take up diving!


  • Paul says:

    Love it. So true 😛

  • emmy says:

    Ha ha that´s funny! Totally agree on all points. When you find yourself communicating with friends standing a few meters away in a bar using hand signals you know there is no return. 🙂

  • ben says:

    Wow!!! Sounds like Thom has so much experience as a dive instructor!!! I wanna do my DM with him!! I also heard he’s a Russian bellydance instructor too..

  • Gisella says:

    Sooooooo true! (Taking holidays now… 😉 )


    I always taught my students Bangkok Women Really Are Fellas because it’s hilarious and more memorable.

    You forgot to mention we always lie when asked about the “have you drunk alcohol in the last 8 hours because it’s on the medical form” question? We say no when we’re really still a little pissed from the night before.

  • Bruno says:

    Super TRUE… heard all of them more than once!!! Well done, good job!!!!

  • Nèma says:

    I love (!!!!) nudibranch..

  • Simo says:

    haha love it…. We were all DMT’s once…. gold…

  • Ela says:

    Living the dream

  • Danny says:

    Yes…and we need time to heal our wounds and injuries (cut, with unprotected hand turning on & off when charging or filling the tank).
    Jobs not stop in water but also on the surface like,
    1) Equipments checking, cleaning etc
    2) Unprepared students
    3) Ego students
    4) Late payments

  • Nit Matchima says:

    Know all that feelings. And Yes.
    Talking underwater is not a problems for me…

  • Rita says:

    Bring Whiskey Rum And Friends

  • Flex says:

    23°C is f***inf HOT

    • Shady AlDimshawy says:

      try 28 !!

      • Rad says:

        Working in Thailand when it hits 28 and below its time to haul out the 5mm wetsuit. I prefer 30+ then no wetsuit required. And yes, talking under water and using hand signals in a bar are perfectly acceptable / the norm!!!

  • Steven Tucker says:

    Then you start training new instructors. They are all half your age, and the fish tattoo you got when you became a DM is older than they are. The feedback blows your mind like a Jimmy Page guitar riff.

    They have no idea who Jimmy Page is.

  • Adam says:

    Becoming a working instructor , after my IDC , was a challenge for sure , but I was persistent. In my own case there are no bad days , my training was a springboard , to fulfill my life long passion to have the privilege to share diving with others. I have the heart of a servant in all my affairs . I will never have to work a day in my life. I am super grateful for those that have cheered me on , and especially grateful for those who told me I would never work as a PADI instructor . I am super stoked . Tomorrow like most days , I will step into the deep blue .

  • Vanpamel Gunter says:

    Nowhere I read here, how many scuba instructors who work and live the dream, must survive at the poverty line.

  • John says:

    Wow, sorry you didn’t pass your OW mate, but no need to take it out on others. Chill out.

  • MCP says:

    Please tell me the guy in board shorts and t-shirt isn’t sitting in 23 degree water all viking style.

  • Lee says:

    Love it, shared.

  • tanya says:

    some instructors are women. just fyi 🙂

  • richard says:

    Big women really are fun. Works for me.
    23 degrees wish…16 if lucky and 5metes of vis.
    Like the hand signals … on.

  • sid brave says:

    Hahaha such brilliance…CESA is not a salad, its a soup lol

  • Scubie says:

    Big Women Really Are Fun …….Big White Rednecks Always Fart

  • sid brave says:

    Also your friends back home don’t recognize you Cuz of the tan….

  • Francisco Vargas says:

    and I miss it

  • Wij duiken in een nat pak nu bij 16 graden bij een maximaal zicht van 4 meter in de oosterschelde. Zou die instructeurs uit de phillipijnen dit graag eens zien doen,ofwel in volle stroming op wrakken duiken in de noordzee.

  • And customers dont stop to ask …. is there a left and right with these fins? … and you dont stop to tell them … No, it is just front and back!


  • Lux says:

    Haha! All true, but you forgot to mention the flip side of the coin: working 12 hours a day with a day off a month, and still not being able to save enough for a ticket back home. Nasty back injuries from shifting tanks, with no sick pay whatsoever. Psycho managers on a power trip. Being forced by the DC to break standards and do dodgy stuff, there’s another million instructors ready to take your place, anyway. Bloody PADI and all its money grabbing BS. Answering the same stupid questions, day in, day out (so, do you live out here then?). And of course… you will never get to talk about anything else than diving, ever again!

  • Zi says:

    I miss been dive instructor been teaching for 25 years I would do any thing to go back to teaching and diving ?

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