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Becoming a PADI Course Director Part I: The Application

The PADI Course Director rating is the highest level of certification within the organization when it comes to teaching scuba instructors. How does one go about becoming a course director?

When it comes to professional dive training, only Course Directors can teach scuba instructors and IDC staff instructors, and certify specialty instructors. Unlike the rest of the PADI professional certifications, wherein you must meet criteria to apply and/or pass an examination, the PADI Course Director process is a selective one.

Having been a divemaster for the last 10 years and a full-time instructor since 2013, I recently became a PADI Course Director. As I grew as an instructor, I became more interested in teaching higher certification levels, such the divemaster course. The next logical move was to become an IDC Staff Instructor, which I did in 2014. Working on Instructor Development Courses at Blue Corner Dive and helping our candidates prepare for the instructor examination was both enthralling and challenging.

Applying for the CDTC

All this knowledge and experience helped me grow as a dive instructor. Soon enough, my next step was to become a Course Director. This isn’t necessarily a decision all dive pros would make; I know a lot of exceptional dive professionals who have no intention of seeking further training. It requires a lot of time and effort just to apply to the Course Director program. Although the training is not cheap, it’s a great investment for those wishing to teach instructors or to spend more time out of the water but still work in the industry.

There are two PADI Course Director Training Courses (CDTC) each year. One takes place Malaysia in March, and the second one in the Dominican Republic in June. Both admit a limited number of students (around 40), but anyone matching the required criteria can submit an application.

When I decided to apply for the CDTC, I had a pretty incomplete idea about the application process. Candidates must, of course, have completed a minimum number of dives, certifications, and other specifics that they would have needed to get the Master Instructor rating. PADI takes many other factors into account in order to “rank” your application among the others. These include your involvement with conservation and Project AWARE, the number of dive professionals you have trained, the number of IDC courses you have staffed, and so on. A very important part of this process is your plan. Where you’ll work as a Course Director and what strategies you’ll implement to be successful are important. While creating a plan with my manager, I also received help from the PADI Regional Manager for Indonesia, Paul Tanner, and from Colin Melrose at PADI Asia Pacific.

The interview and acceptance

The final part of the application process is an interview with a PADI staff member. During the interview you’ll discuss motivations, the plan as described above, and any other topic that’s relevant.

Once candidates complete their interviews, PADI compiles all the applications. The selection committee reviews them in order to decide which ones will be approved for the training. As for my own application, I already knew there was stiff competition for the course in Malaysia. I also knew I really wanted to be chosen, and finally…an email arrived to tell me I was in! In our next installment, I’ll share tidbits and tips on the training itself.