Generally speaking, there are two types of Dive schools or Dive centers out there: those who offer the Divemaster Internship “free” in exchange for work, and those who charge you a fee to complete your program. Those that offer the Divemaster internship in return for you working for them are, in our view, exploitive in nature—and should be avoided. But, to better investigate it we will go ahead and look at a few points that may help you make a more informed decision.
Simply put, they get free labour. Lots of it. Hours, and hours, and hours of it. They do not employ the Divemasters or Dive guides they are using. Instead, they use their Divemaster interns to do the grunt work they’d normally have to pay a fully qualified Divemaster or Diveguide for.
At first glance, this may seem like a good deal. You may have more time available to you than you do funds, so you think to yourself, “Hey, no worries… I’ll just work it off and enjoy some fun in the sun at the same time!”
Wrong. That’s not how it works. Your fun will be limited to, in large part, what little time you get off in the evenings. You can expect to be up really early in the morning, work all day in the heat, and then maybe, you’ll have some time to do something you enjoy. Within a very short period of time, you’ll settle into a grueling, non stop work schedule that almost entirely benefits the owners of the company. An average of a 6 day week, 14 hour day……. Still sounding like fun?
As a trainee you’re supposed to be learning how to become a Professional, not replace professionals. It’s actually against regulations, not to mention most Countries laws, to work as a Divemaster when you don’t actually hold the credentials. But unscrupulous Dive Centres all over the world offer “free” internships, and then put divers who have no business being in charge of other divers, in charge of other divers. That’s a serious breach of trust, and it’s dangerous.
One of the problems with this model is you don’t know, what you don’t know. So you do what you’re told. However, being a real Divemaster requires time, effort, knowledge, training, and real experience. As a trainee, you should be in an environment that allows you to focus entirely on your academics and gaining experience. This should only be done under the direct supervision of a qualified mentor. Make no mistake about it, it is utterly inappropriate to have a non-professional do a professionals job. Ever.
If you have any ethics or morals, you’ll also realize that you’re taking away work that locals could be doing. Think of it like this, in developing nations, where diving is often the best (think Cozumel, Mexico or Thailand), the shop should be investing in the local economy and that means hiring and paying a living wage to locals who can then take care of their families and invest back into their villages. One of the largest companies that offers “free” Divemaster and Instructor internships even tells the new arrivals to NEVER admit you “work” for them as it is illegal and punishable by a prison sentence, of course this is only after you have arrived! So now you can add liar to your CV!
It’s easy to think it would be cool, as an Open Water diver, to jump right into the deep end of the pool and start working with clients.
The reality is that you are sent out by yourself, without your instructor or another experienced Divemaster/ Dive guide, because the company needs a person to guide and the instructors are busy with other courses. With no instructor watching over and offering advice and help, how will you develop your skills?
Sending you out guiding before you are ready, with no instructor or experienced Divemaster/ Dive guide to help development your skills, will definitely result in an uncomfortable dive for your guests or yourself.
Remember that you are not paying for your instructor’s time so it is hard for the company to spend its resources on sending out an instructor with just a ‘free’ intern. It is because of this that interns lose that one-on-one time with an instructor.
Part of your “free” internship will be making sales and a lot of them!
Again, we believe it is not conducive to put pressure on people to make sales just to “keep there job”
There are many stories from those who are “sacked” for not performing well enough in sales… so not the best introduction in becoming a PADI Pro as many then give up.
So now you are ready to work and looking for your first paid job…..
Wait a moment… you want someone to pay you to do something that you got for free… why would a Dive Centre that charges a fair rate for scuba courses want to pay you, when you didnt pay?
The scuba diving industry is a small world and most of the “Pro” Centres know who is giving their courses away for free and know the quality of the training being given, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when no-one is willing to give you a job.
We have run Dive Centres for many years and have trained many scuba Pros on Internships. The FREE versions, in our opinion, dont work for the majority of people, so if you are looking to become a Divemaster or Instructor and work doing the job you think you will love, we are here waiting for you.
We have a website dedicated to those wanting to join the ranks of Scuba diving Elite…. What are you waiting for?