Do What You Love - Love What You Do : Becoming a SSI Dive Professional

Do What You Love - Love What You Do : Becoming a SSI Dive Professional

When you think of a scuba divemaster or instructor what comes to mind? For me, it’s a person who has chosen to share the sport they love with others.  Or at least that’s why I became a dive professional. Well, let’s be honest….

Scuba diving did not come naturally to me.  I learned to dive so we would have a healthy activity that the entire family could enjoy.  As soon as we’d finished the open water diver class my husband had already signed us up for specialties and and shortly after that, the divemaster course.  I had zero desire to lead divers but accompanied him to support his goals.  As a divemaster, living in West Texas, we didn’t do a whole lot.  We were basically support staff.  I could do that!  I loved being helpful!  Once again my husband suggested we continue our education and sign up for the Instructor Training Course.  My answer was, “You have fun with that!”.  Haha.  He eventually convinced me to go through the course with him but I was only doing it for him. Not myself.  Again, support staff.  I had zero desires to actually teach scuba diving.  

We began our training with 2 other divers, Cindy and Sara, that are close friends of ours.  Everything went well until we got to the physics and physiology section of our digital materials.  The other 3 were becoming frustrated with not fully grasping the content.  For me, the academics were the easy part.  It made complete sense.  We set up a time where everyone could come over to our house and I explained the section to them and even taught them a few tricks on calculating the maximum operating depth of an Enriched Air Nitrox cylinder.  I had soooo much fun! I was totally in my element.  In that moment, I knew I wanted to become a SSI Open Water Instructor.  I could share the sport I’d grown to love and help others who were struggling with the academic portions at the same time.  I immediately fell in love with everything SSI.  SSI's core philosophies like “Comfort Through Repetition” and “The Diver Diamond” all made complete sense to me and I couldn’t wait to pass my exam and begin my career as a SSI Instructor.  And I did just that. I passed my Instructor Exam!!!

        New SSI Instructors

I knew teaching scuba diving in West Texas was limited.  To really immerse myself into teaching I’d need to go elsewhere.  I did my instructors exam in Roatan and was very comfortable being there.  I decided to rent a place half way between West End and West Bay and offer to teach at any SSI dive center that needed my help.  My career didn’t take off like a rocket but I did get some wonderful opportunities to not only teach but to work alongside some incredible instructors.  It's amazing how much you can learn from co-teaching and/or observing. My love for teaching grew and grew.  Kind of like the Grinch’s Heart. Haha.  Not that I’m a grinch.                


I eventually ended up on Utila, the most incredible island in the Bay Islands.  Utila is an island filled with dive centers and divers galore.  It has clear waters with minimal current and is the perfect environment to learn and teach.  My days start with walking onto the property and seeing the smiling faces on the other instructors, Greg, Mariam and Dewey, and being greeted by a big hug from Mariam.  We all begin getting our gear ready for the day and then proceed to getting the gear ready for the divers.  We work together as a team loading the boat, smiling and laughing as we go.  Once the divers arrive, all you hear are voices filled with excitement and laughing. This continues until the dive begins and we descend underwater where a quiet peace falls over everyone.  One of the best parts of the job is showing everyone the amazing sea life that surrounds us as we gently swim through the water.  I’m no where near as good at finding the tiny, barely visible, creatures as Dewey is.  He amazes me each time we are in the water. One of my favorite times is our surface intervals.  We are able to help our divers log their dives and open our copy of Caribbean Reef Life by Mickey Charteris and look up and visit about all of the amazing things we just saw underwater.  Of course no surface interval is complete without fresh seasonal fruit!  As the day goes on, sometimes we have confined sessions to teach, other times academic sessions.  Regardless of what we are doing, even if we are tired, we still enjoy and love our jobs.  Is it really a job if you love what you do as much as we do?  

        The Tank'd Team on The Miss Wally

Over the years, I have continued my education, and equally as important, practiced my skills in the water.  My love for diving has continued to grow along with my desire to teach others.  As an SSI instructor, I have been able to teach, comfort, help, advise and create friendships with so many divers.  I have zero regrets when it comes to my choice of careers.  My only regret may be that I didn’t begin sooner, at a younger age, so I would be able to do it for even longer.  

In case you're wondering what it takes to become a SSI Professional (SSI Divemaster, SSI Assistant Instructor, SSI Instructor or even SSI Assistant Instructor Trainer) look no further, we are here to help answer all of your questions. The view the chart below shows some how easy it is to achieve your goal of becoming a dive professional. Click on the photo to see all of the dive professional courses we offer at Tank'd Pro Dive Center.

                       SSI Dive Professional Pathway
To begin your pathway as a SSI Dive Professional you will want to look first at taking our Dive Guide Course.  This course requires that you either hold certifications or show experience in the following courses: Deep Diving, Night & Limited Visibility and Navigation.  You will also need to be certified in Diver Stress & Rescue and have at least 40 logged dives. The Dive Guide program is the first step on an exciting journey. Through this course you will learn to safely lead certified divers in various environments and conditions. By giving dive briefings, doing site evaluations, and leading dives, you will become a confident Dive Guide in no time. Begin your diving career working as a Professional Dive Guide or become a Divemaster by adding the Science of Diving Certification.  While taking this or any other professional courses with us you will be able to live in our dorm apartment at no additional cost.
The Assistant Instructor rating is the next step after becoming a Divemaster along the scuba instructor pathway. It allows you to collect valuable teaching experience, practice briefings, teach academics, and conduct in-water training. We spend time each day helping you master all of the skills that you will be able to teach as an Assistant Instructor making sure you are incredibly comfortable teaching the skills in a slow exaggerated manner. 
If you want to further your career as a dive professional, you can continue on to become a SSI Open Water Instructor.  We prefer to slow down a bit and make sure you are over prepared for your career as an Instructor.  During this time, we continue your training and even add in finning workshops to help you work on proper finning techniques, like backfinning, that are extremely helpful as an instructor.  We also teach you how to evaluate Dive Guide Candidates as they do dive briefings and guide dives and learn all about the Diver Stress & Rescue and  Enriched Air Nitrox Courses by letting you join in and watch as our instructors teach these courses.
Once you have passed the Instructor Exam you will be able to to teach various key SSI programs independently like Scuba Diver, Open Water Diver, Advanced Adventurer, Perfect Buoyancy, Enriched Air Nitrox, Diver Stress & Rescue and Dive Guide. 
Our goal is to create dive professionals that love teaching scuba diving as much as we do and we realize that the only way to do this is by being well trained instructors.  We ourselves, continue to learn and grow on a regular basis by creating goals for ourselves and taking Specialty Instructor Courses. 
One of the great things about SSI is their Recognition Levels and Recognition Ratings which extend to their dive professionals.  We enjoy watching the professionals that we've trained as they progress in their careers.  We even believe in them so much that we offer to train them at the Assistant Instructor Trainer level for free, knowing that they will be a huge benefit to future generations of SSI Dive Professionals.
Have we tempted you to become a SSI Dive Professional yet? I hope so.  I seriously doubt you will regret your decision. I definitely haven't.

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