You cannot imagine the magic of scuba diving until you start exploring a big blue ocean! To become a scuba instructor is hard work but well worth the effort. It’s hard to imagine anything better than exploring new places every day, or introducing other divers to the best spots of vast reefs, bursting with color and sea creatures!
As a PADI Instructor you’ll get to do things others can only dream about but you might need to take the first step to becoming a PADI diver first. Many people choose PADI (Professional Association of Scuba Diving Instructors) because their certification card is recognized and welcomed globally; there are others out there but check they are internationally recognized before signing up. Learning to dive isn’t difficult but you’ll need to invest a little time and effort. The most popular first course is the PADI Open Water Diver course which is flexible and can be taken over evenings, weekends, or in around four days, costing as little as £180 in Australia. (to do this course in the UK just Google search open water diver courses in your local area)
The next step is PADI’s Advanced Open Water Diver course, where you’ll gain experience and fine-tune your dive skills. After this course you need to follow up with the challenging and rewarding PADI Rescue Diver course which gives you valuable experience in emergency management. After this you work through PADI’s Professional levels from the Divemaster Course, followed by Assistant Instructor through to becoming a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor. Prices for all these courses vary depending on where in the world you are so check up before you travel by contacting PADI dive centres local to you or at your planned destination.
Cairns, Australia has been made famous by hundreds of backpacker bars offering endless deals, but these cannot compete with the stunning Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately parts of it have been damaged due to the swarms of tourists that pop on their Speed boats to visit the stunning fish and coral. However, these tourists bring lots of work opportunities. Every boat that takes out an average of 30 people requires staff members to ensure the safety of the passengers whilst underwater and on the boat. All you require is the PADI Open Water Certificate or equivalent and a pair of bathers. If you choose to do a diving course in Australia, it’s great to do it away from the most populated areas, in terms of scuba diving, as the Great Barrier Reef is well worn from tourists and divers. Coffs Harbour, for example, is brilliant to explore as the reef ends there and provides you with an awesome array of wildlife, and is not as damaged as other parts of the coast.
Work visas are easy to apply for in Australia, costing approximately £90 and allow you to work for up to 12 months (but only six months for one employer). You need to be between 18 and 30 in order to apply for such a visa and you can only get one once in your lifetime so make sure you definitely make the most of it!
Australia is not the only place to offer such opportunities for scuba adventurers – Thailand’s underwater life is out of this world. The island of Koh Tao is a focal point for all international scuba divers, with numerous companies providing courses and one-off dives, and excellent après-dive action enabling you to party till dawn. The most effective approach is to wander into shops and businesses that offer diving trips, as it is hard for them to know when they will need individuals since busy parts of the seasons always vary slightly. As well as Koh Tao, there are the infamous Similian Islands (one of the best dive sites in the world), along with Hin Daeng/Hin Muang and Koh Haa. Koh Tao is unusual in that it has a year-long diving season, whereas the other areas mentioned are best between October to May each year. Although the most appealing aspect of traveling and working is the freedom to go with the flow, wherever and whenever you feel, it is definitely worth keeping track of the months to avoid missing work opportunities.
Scuba Cat, a company based in Phuket, offers a program that takes you through from the basic Open Water level to Instructor and requires minimal experience, which is an advantage for those of you that have not had the chance to explore too much of the underwater world. As with all popular dive spots, 90% of companies in Thailand take on individuals to train up to Dive Master level and often beyond, but sometimes costs arise if you need to do an instructor course (which can happen if the company does not want to fork out for it).
Work visas for Thailand are a different story! There have been many individuals that believe they are popping over to Thailand for a holiday or a few months working, but the infectious vibrant culture and country itself draws them back. Sooner than you realize, you can no longer keep on extending the date of your flight home! Many think they can get away with simply having a tourist visa and working on that, but this is illegal and the government are cracking down on the practice. You have to leave the country every three months to renew your tourist visa anyway, and a spell in a Thai prison or a fine that would gobble up your entire budget is not worth it, so taking an extra five minutes to complete a couple of forms is worth it. You are able to enter the country with a basic tourist visa, but then once you have found work, have it changed to a non-immigration visa for business. This enables you to be flexible, as well as law abiding. If you are certain that you are going to work and know who for, then get yourself a work permit from the beginning.