Dive Instructor Internship – Should I work for my PADI IDC or should I pay for it.

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Before we start please allow me come clean and tell you that:

Yes, I am a PADI Course Director

Yes, I would love to see you do your IDC with me

No, I don’t offer internships of either kind described below.

There are basically two types of internships, the one where you work for a set amount of time without pay in return for your instructor qualification during which time you are promised to gain experience. Basically, what this boils down to is free labour disguised as an internship. The other type of internship is the one where you have gone through the training to become a PADI instructor and gain experience by team teaching with a senior instructor for instance. 

The internships where you work for your IDC are very popular with dive operators as the dive company will make a great deal of money out of the Divemaster who is willing to work for free in return for an IDC program. In essence they have a staff member they do not have to pay and the costs involved in adding an extra person on an IDC program is next to nothing for the dive company.

By choosing this option you are contributing to the low wages in the dive industry and I would like you to really think about this. Let’s assume you are looking at one of these internships and you are heading over to South East Asia. Heck the diving is awesome, the cost of living is next to nothing and you are going to get your PADI IDC for free. What could be better? Well, here are some problems with that:

1.    You are taking a job from someone. Never mind about the work permit for a second. But what you are doing is taking a paying job from someone. There are a number of local Divemasters who have worked really hard to get to the PADI Divemaster rating and you are taking their job away.

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2.    Everything was great in the first week and now all of a sudden you realize that it’s not all skittles and beer…. You are stuck in the office answering phone calls, sweeping the training centre and picking up and dropping of customers in the mini van. Hang on…. I thought I was meant to be scuba diving? Guiding certified divers, assisting the instructor in the confined water sessions in the pool. Nope… you are at the bottom of the ladder and have to deal with all the crap jobs. 

3.    You are signing yourself up to an agreement with a diveshop that you are stuck with if things don’t turn out.

 These types of internships are also available in countries such as where I teach PADI IDC programs in Australia. I have seen some of these internships and whilst you will gain experience if you have never worked on boats, financially it is going to cost you more than if you paid for your PADI IDC in the first place.

I know of one program which requires you to work for 45 days and you will receive in return your IDC and PADI materials for free. The PADI fees and Instructor application fees are still at your expense.

How much is an IDC? The course is about $1,500 and the learning materials are about $1,200 so in essence you are receiving $2,700 in exchange for 45 days of work. 

So let’s do the math:

Minimum wage in Australia in 2018 was $18.93 an hour. (That is the absolute minimum you can get paid in any job you may do)

45 days of work at 8 hour per day (and chances are you will be working longer hours) is 360 hour 

360 hours x $18.93 = $6,814.80

At the minimum wage you would pay 19% tax.

$6,814.80 less 19% tax = $5,519.99 net in your hand (Remember that the PADI IDC is $1,500 and the PADI materials are $1,200)

This is why financially it just does not and up and these types of programs cheapen our industry as it shows to employers that you are willing to work for very little.

Working it back the other way. You receive $2,700 in courses and materials for 45 days of work. You are willing to work for:

$2,700 divided by 360 hours = $7.50 per hour.

Don’t get me wrong, some of these internships are the right fit for some people. If you have no experience working on dive vessels, or never worked with customers, or want to get your number of dives up, then these types might be the right fit for you. But from a financial point of view they just don’t ad up.

So what is the alternative???? 

There are internships where you can stay on after your PADI IDC and learn. Many dive centres offer these types pf programs and I believe them to be of much more benefit. During these internships you are team teaching with a senior instructor, or following a dive supervisor, or learning in the dive shop how sales and reservations are done. The difference is simple, you’re not working for $7.50 an hour.

I hope this article helped you in your decision to become a PADI pro. If you do have any questions or want any further advise on the PADI IDC programs please don’t hastate to contact me.