Scuba diving is one of those adventures that is unlike anything else in the world. Lots of people get recreationally certified every year at exotic locations like Palau, the British Virgin Islands, or Curacao. For the most part every diver goes through the same experience - academic training, pool sessions, and open water skills.
Imagine dolphins playing with you at 20 meters in Mexico, eels darting out of coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, or exploring sunken train cars off the coast of Thailand. After you see it one time, it's enough to make you quit your day job and start a diving career.
But diving is also expensive. There is no doubt about it. Dives often cost $30 or more per dive. When you need to log at least 100 dives to gain the experience necessary to meet professional standards, plus room and board while you're doing it, a dive career may just seem like a ridiculous dream…
One of the new trends of successful dive shops is the diving internship. These "zero to hero" programs take divers of any level and let you intern at their shop. It's a great deal. Often times these internships are free or come at a low "educational" price. They may include room and board, unlimited dives, guaranteed pass rates, equipment, books, and even pay once you reach certain certification levels.
The coolest thing about a diving intern is you'll be learning all aspects of dive shop life: filling air tanks, earning diving certifications, logging dives, leading dives, learning how to teach, observing training, boat and shop upkeep. Remember that as an intern you'll get the best of both worlds. Sure you'll spend plenty of time exploring your local reefs and learning where the nurse sharks sleep, the sea turtles hang out, what rock the sea horses are near, what swim-through coral brings on the adrenaline rush, and getting a nice diver tan. But you'll also spend a lot of time learning, earning certifications, working around the shop, and gaining valuable dive job experience.
You can find information on internships online or by contacting dive shops where you'd like to work. Research is important. Contact the places that you want to be. Search the Internet. Make sure the dive shop is a legitimate place and is associated with a quality dive organization like PADI, SSI, or NAUI. Contact and talk with the dive shop. Learn about the town and where the dive shop is located.
If you do an internship, as with anything, you should do your best. Learn and explore all aspects of diving. Take advantage of your instructor or course director's vast knowledge. Become an expert at what you do. Because when you finish up your internship and you have a divemaster or instructor certification you can work anywhere in the diving world. The experience and recommendations you gain at your internship will propel you to the jobs you've always wanted, whether it is in the Maldives, Wisconsin, or Greece.
A love for diving and a desire for a dive job is the number one reason to sign on for a dive internship. You may spend your internship in Honduras, Bali, Thailand, Mexico, or the Caymans, but the knowledge and diving skills you develop will stay with you forever.