Finding a dive instructor: 10 Questions to Ask before you start your diving course

By Julius
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Scuba diver guide underwater

Do you need help finding a good dive instructor?

Choosing the right scuba diving instructor is as essential as selecting the perfect dive school. After all, your instructor will guide you through one of the best experiences of your life: exploring the underwater world. 😎

While our guide on how to choose a dive school can give you a solid foundation, your connection with your instructor is equally important.

Here are 10 questions you should ask potential instructors before your diving course to ensure you’re in capable hands.

How to find a good dive instructor

Your dive instructor should be an expert diver with great experience in the field and show care, patience, and empathy toward their students. You should feel comfortable around them and not afraid of asking questions or not understanding a certain topic.

A dive instructor is the one introducing you to a completely new environment that is amazing…but also potentially overwhelming at first.

Even the best students may not understand a topic or fail to perform a certain skill on the first try.

Here, a good dive instructor will be patient and happy to help. This goes beyond just correcting the mistake and includes empathy and an ability to make everyone feel comfortable at all times.

Scuba divers around underwater rock
A good dive instructor is arguably the most important part of learning to dive.

1. What certifications do they hold?

First and foremost, your dive instructor should be part of a reputable diving organization like PADI, iac, CMAS, or SSI and hold the required certifications to instruct students.

All reputable dive instructors I know (including myself) will willingly show you proof of their certification without hesitation.

Why It’s Important:
Certification ensures that your instructor has met industry standards for safety and instruction. Always opt for an instructor with recognized credentials.

2. What is you experience so far?

A dive instructor should be an absolute expert in the field.

The more years of experience, the better. An experienced instructor can more effectively manage different scenarios that might occur underwater and has seen a lot of things underwater.

Of course, age and years of experience are not the same as actual experience. If you have the choice between someone who’s been a dive instructor for 3 years with 2,000 dives they might be much more experienced than a 10-year dive instructor who only has 400 dives.

Why It’s Important:
Years of teaching can translate into a wealth of knowledge, enhancing not only your safety but also the quality of your training. On the other hand, actual experience is more important than just age.

Scuba diver looking up on reef
Experience beats almost anything else. Especially when it comes to diving.

3. What is your approach to safety & emergencies?

Your instructor should prioritize safety by continually updating their skills and following all safety protocols.

A good dive instructor will give you a good insight into their safety guidelines and measures and explain in detail, how they ensure it during your diving course.

This includes providing emergency oxygen, instructing you on the necessity of good dive insurance, and how they select suitable dive sites for beginners.

Why It’s Important:
Safety should never be compromised. Understanding your instructor’s commitment to safety can set the tone for your entire diving experience.

4. How many students will be in the class?

Smaller class sizes are generally better for personalized instruction.

The maximum a single instructor should take underwater should never exceed 2-3 students at a time for an Open Water Diver skill session. On the other hand, on the last dive of the course or advanced courses, instructors are allowed to take up to 8 students when they have a Dive Leader or Divemaster with them.

Run from dive schools that put 10 students into their Open Water Diver courses.

Yes, that comes at a price, however, it’s well worth it!

Why It’s Important:
Less crowded classes can make learning more efficient, offering more opportunities for one-on-one time with your instructor.

Large group of divers at shore
Avoid overcrowded courses if possible.

5. What’s included in the course fee?

The course fee should ideally cover the basics like tanks, weights, rental equipment, and instruction, but clarify if there are additional costs.

Some courses include certification fees, pool entry, and such, while others charge them on top.

There is no right or wrong and it also depends on the location. Munich, for example, is one of the most expensive cities in the world and will always be more expensive than for example a course in Thailand!

All course prices should be clearly stated!

For example, at Social Diving we put the the prices directly on the course page and even have a dedicated diving prices page for everyone to see.

Why It’s Important:
Hidden costs can affect your budget and experience. Make sure you know what you’re paying for.

6. Where will the dives take place?

Your instructor should be clear about the dive sites, whether it’s a confined pool for training or open-water dives.

Dive sites should also be suitable for the course you are taking.

An Open Water Diver course at most agencies certifies you to dive down to depths of around 20m/65ft. I’ve seen dive schools only dive down to 9m max. in their courses.

For obvious reasons, you should experience the diving depth you are getting certified for!

Why It’s Important:
The dive site can significantly influence your learning experience. Make sure it aligns with your comfort and skill level.

Group of student divers
Courses should take place at appropriate dive sites.

7. What is the course schedule like?

An organized schedule helps you prepare and manage your time effectively.

It’s possible to do a course over the weekend or spread it out. In my opinion, don’t wait too long in between skills and open water dives or else you will feel less confident underwater.

Why It’s Important:
Knowing the schedule in advance will help you juggle other commitments and maximize your learning experience.

8. How do you handle nervous or anxious divers?

Your instructor should offer strategies for managing stress and anxiety underwater.

For example, by recommending my book scuba diving without fear! πŸ˜‰

Most importantly, a dive instructor should be emphatic toward you and the topic and not just brush it away like it’s never going to happen. I’ve seen that happen plenty of times and you don’t want to be around people like that.

Attitude matters

It’s one thing to talk about fear and nervousness, and the other how a person deals with it. You should have a good feeling toward your instructor and they should show empathy when talking about the topic.

Why It’s Important:
This can be especially useful for beginners who may be nervous about their first dive. An understanding instructor can make all the difference.

9. What equipment will we be using?

The instructor should be able to provide detailed information about the quality and type of scuba gear that will be used.

It should be in good shape and regularly serviced. In the best cases, the dive instructor uses similar equipment to that which you use during the course.

Why It’s Important:
Knowing about the equipment helps you prepare better and ensures your safety and comfort underwater.

10. Do you offer any post-certification support or advanced courses?

Many instructors offer advanced courses and can guide you on how to further your diving skills.

Never change a winning team is something that holds true for almost anything in life.

Finding a good dive instructor is not easy and when you do, it’s a good idea to get back to them for advanced training, support, and courses.

Why It’s Important:
If you plan to take diving seriously, it’s good to know that you can continue your education with the same instructor.

Scuba divers smile into camera
A good dive instructor is worth their weight in gold…well…the weight of their dive computer maybe.

More tips on finding a dive instructor

In addition to all the things above, here are some more tips on finding the perfect dive instructor for you:

Gut feeling

Sometimes, your instincts can be your best guide. If you feel uneasy or uncomfortable around an instructor for any reason, go somewhere else!

Consult with Experienced Divers

If you know someone who is an experienced diver, don’t hesitate to seek their advice. They can often provide valuable insights that you might not have considered.

They can also tell you whether what you experience during your course is normal or a reason for concern.

Talk to them in person

A website or social media channel is one thing, but talking to a person is a whole other.

Call them beforehand if you live far aways or just visit the dive school and talk to the dive instructor you will be learning from.

Quality has its price

Just like you wouldn’t undersell yourself, neither will the best dive instructors.

Quality comes at a price but it’s usually worth it!

Summary

Choosing a good dive instructor will make your diving experiences much better!

Don’t hesitate to talk to different dive instructors before picking the perfect one.

If you have any other questions or need advice on finding a dive instructor, leave us a comment!

Happy Diving!

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About the author

Hey! I'm Julius, professional scuba instructor, diver, outdoor lover, entrepreneur and CEO and founder of Social Diving. I write about scuba diving (including tech, cave, sidemount, and freediving), travel, and love what I do. If you have any questions, send me a message. :-)

©2024 Social Diving. All rights reserved. The content presented here is the exclusive property of Social Diving and may not be copied or distributed, in whole or in part, without the express permission of Social Diving.

Social Diving is your #1 online source for scuba diving, scuba travel, water sports, learning, and having fun in and under water. We have scuba online articles, review plenty of (scuba) gear, and regularly post travel guides around the world.

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