Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles

September 4, 2008

You may call me…MASTER!!

Filed under: Learning Curve — Kaddee @ 3:20 pm

I had my brief, stream-of-consciousness post about finishing my divemaster certification, but many people have asked, “What does that REALLY mean?”

So here goes:

The certification is through PADI (officially: Professional Association of Diving Instructors; unofficially: Put Another Dollar In), the largest SCUBA certification organization on the planet. I have been diving since 1987 (yes, there are readers of this blog that weren’t even BORN when I got certified!). My original Open Water certification was not through PADI, but all my subsequent certifications (Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver) have been.

The certifications through Rescue are aimed at recreational divers. People who want to put a tank on their back and look at pretty stuff underwater. Frequently these dives are led by other people (“diving professionals”), allowing the recreational diver to concentrate on only one thing: RECREATION. Even Rescue Diver certification is merely a First Aid/CPR class designed for people in or under the water. Just like First Aid/CPR, there are problem solving sessions (What do I do when I come upon an incident?), they are just more involved because you are in a non-natural environment for Homo sapiens. Even so, it is still all about recreation.

After Rescue Diver (unless you like to collect pretty cards and pay PADI or whomever a LOT of money to dive) there are no other higher recreational certifications*. The upper levels in the PADI hierarchy are geared toward “diving professionals” or those who will work in the business of diving (read: business not recreation). Dive master is the “ground floor”, “entry level” professional certification.

What is required to become a dive master?

  • all the previous certifications
    • I finished all the recreational certifications in 2004, thanks to HCC and the MaST center
  • experience diving (60 dives must be logged prior to completion of the certification – these are ANY dives that you have done in your lifetime, if properly logged)
    • I had over 200 dives prior to beginning the month-long dive master experience, mostly from my graduate work, and managed to log around 35 more!
  • Reading and testing in eight (8) different areas of theory that relate to diving (Physics, Physiology, Equipment, Decompression Theory and Use of Dive Tables, Diving Skills and the Environment, Supervising Activities for Certified Divers, Supervising Student Divers in Training, and Divemaster Conducted Programs)
    • Funniest part is, as a university professor in the sciences, my WORST exams were those within my discipline. PADI aims their teaching materials towards the LCD (lowest common denominator) and frequently simplifies physics and physiology to the point of being patently incorrect! I had some issues with their “approach to learning”!
  • Mapping and preparing an emergency plan for a particular dive site
    • This exercise made me reconsider requiring group work for my students!
  • Stamina testing
    • Basic swimming, floating and towing within proscribed time limits. I am a life-long swimmer, so this was not a problem.
  • Rescue scenario refresher
  • In-water skills demonstration
    • This made me a bit nervous because, although I am not performance-impaired, I am rather type A.
  • Internship
  • Professionalism
  • Supervised Instructional and Guiding Experience

WHY would I want to do this??

THAT is a very good question. Most people who do this are in their 20′s and trying to get working credentials so that they can get a “job” in some tropical resort area for some (frequently undefined) amount of time. For me, it was all about my own edification, challenge and control. The training made me more confident in my own abilities, helped me learn how to manage other divers to allow them to enjoy the dive and put me in control of how I dive from now on.

Did I get what I wanted out of this training?

Yes and no. From an educational standpoint – I, personally. learned a lot – including that PADI does not understand the principles of learning and assessment. HMMM – maybe they need an educational consultant to revise their curriculum????? LOL

From an intellectual standpoint – I got a chance to stretch my brain in new ways, and feed the part of my personality that enjoys making other people happy.

From a physical standpoint – I am in better shape than I have been in a LONG time. And I did it by doing what I love to do – diving every day. Life doesn’t suck.

So at the end of the day, I am divemaster, hear me roar!

*You may choose to argue this point with me, especially if you are a PADI zealot, in that there are specialties in which you can continue your certifications. However these certifications are not NECESSARY to continue diving, nor to gain further skills – they merely extend your experience. Experience, IMHO, does not require paying PADI.*


  1. Congrats on the cert! It IS a great feeling and huge accomplishment!

    Put Another Dollar In… that’s about right. You don’t have to give into further pressure now. :D

    [PADI DM since '86]

    Comment by BubbaJoan — September 9, 2008 @ 7:21 am

  2. My darling Divemaster student, I hear you roar. We had many good times and some tough times, but I am glad that I managed to drag you, sometimes kicking and screaming, through this course. Diving with you will never be the same again. Next time we’re in the Canyon, you’re showing me the way, ok?

    Comment by Kasia — September 16, 2008 @ 11:07 am

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