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!!!
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?
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.