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The Path to Becoming a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor

You might be asking yourself, how can you one become a PADI scuba instructor and live on a tropical island like Koh Tao? Let's take a look at the path forward. In this article, we will explore the PADI courses necessary to attain the coveted title of PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor.

  • Open Water Diver Course:

The foundation of any scuba diving career begins with the PADI Open Water Diver course. This entry-level certification introduces individuals to the basic principles of scuba diving, including safety protocols, equipment usage, and underwater navigation. Completing this course is a prerequisite for advancing to higher levels of PADI training and over the course of your first four open water training dives you will do so.

  • Advanced Open Water Diver Course:

Once certified as an Open Water Diver, the next step is the Advanced Open Water Diver course. This program expands on the fundamental skills acquired in the previous level and introduces divers to new specialties such as deep diving, navigation, and underwater photography. Accumulating experience in various diving environments is crucial before pursuing the instructor level. Over the course of five adventure dives you will work on your buoyancy, navigation, and deep diving skills amoung others.

  • Emergency First Response (EFR) Course

Safety is paramount in the world of scuba diving. The Emergency First Response (EFR) course equips future instructors with essential first aid and CPR skills. This certification is not only a requirement for the PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) but also ensures that instructors can respond confidently and effectively in emergency situations. There are several equivalent certifications that are recognized and accepted for this requirement.

  • Rescue Diver Course:

The Rescue Diver course focuses on developing a diver's ability to prevent and manage diving emergencies. This includes honing skills such as self-rescue, recognizing stress in others, and providing assistance in various scenarios. A Rescue Diver certification is mandatory for those aspiring to become PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors.

  • Divemaster Course:

The PADI Divemaster course marks the first professional level in the PADI system. As a Divemaster, individuals gain leadership skills, learn to supervise diving activities, and assist instructors with training. This course provides valuable hands-on experience and prepares candidates for the responsibilities they will face as instructors. You will also dive a lot! Most divemaster courses allow the student to get their dive numbers up. In order to start the course you will need 40 total dives, and to finish, you will need 60. However in most cases you will have much more than this (and you should!).

  • PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC):

The PADI IDC is the pinnacle of training for those seeking to become Open Water Scuba Instructors. Divided into two parts – the Assistant Instructor (AI) course and the Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI) program – the IDC covers teaching techniques, dive theory, and practical application of skills. Successful completion of the IDC is followed by the Instructor Examination (IE), a standardized assessment conducted by PADI examiners.

  • Specialties and Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT) Rating:

While not mandatory, becoming a Master Scuba Diver Trainer allows instructors to teach a variety of specialty courses. Instructors can choose from a range of specialties such as wreck diving, underwater naturalist, or night diving. Earning MSDT credentials enhances an instructor's versatility and marketability. Many places make this a requirement before you begin employment with that shop.


Becoming a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor is a rewarding achievement that requires dedication, skill development, and a commitment to safety. By progressing through the outlined courses, individuals can build a solid foundation, gain practical experience, and ultimately share their passion for scuba diving with students around the world. The journey from novice diver to PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor is an adventure filled with education, excitement, and the opportunity to explore the wonders of the underwater realm.

Will Ragsdale


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