What Is the Difference between a Divemaster and a Scuba Instructor?

14 Apr 2016

What Is the Difference between a Divemaster and a Scuba Instructor?

Some people take up scuba diving as a fun hobby to enjoy on vacations, never knowing that there are different levels of training, much less that there are differences between a divemaster and a scuba instructor. These people may go so far as to become certified, but they have no ambition to do anything other than enjoy diving as a hobby.

Then there are those who try scuba and realize it is a calling, that they not only feel the most alive when they’re underwater, but that they have a passion for helping others discover the wonderful world that lies beneath the waves. These people can receive additional training and eventually become scuba instructors themselves.

When you decide you want to teach scuba, you may be surprised to learn that there are a variety of choices to be made. In addition to learning the differences between a divemaster and a scuba instructor, there are many different dive instructor schools you could explore. Here’s what you need to know before you get started.


There are multiple levels of instruction you can obtain to advance your skills as both an individual diver as well as a dive instructor.  In general, there are five different levels for individual diver training that ranges from beginner to master diver, as well as two professional level classifications, assistant instructor and full scuba instructor.  Bridging the gap from recreational to professional scuba diver, allowed to lead other certified divers on scuba trips, is a divemaster and a scuba instructor is a professional diver that is qualified to teach certification courses.


The biggest difference between a divemaster and a scuba instructor is that the former is considered a “dive leader”, and as such, can only assist in the teaching of scuba courses under a certified instructor, whereas an instructor is qualified to teach alone. So what is a divemaster?

A divemaster leads and is responsible for the safety of other certified divers on outings. In order to become a divemaster you must be 18 years of age or older, fit to dive, and hold the following certifications: Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver, and current EFR Primary and Secondary Care (CPR and first aid). You must also log 40 dives before you can even start the program and log 60 before the course is complete. Certification is contingent on passing the divemaster training course.

Scuba Instructor

The path to becoming a scuba instructor requires a tremendous amount of time and commitment.  In order to become a full scuba instructor, you must first be a certified divemaster, so in essence, you will be both a divemaster and a scuba instructor once you complete your instructor training and certification courses.

The first step to becoming a full diving instructor is to gain the training and experience of an assistant instructor. As an assistant instructor you will begin to take on some added teaching responsibilities and will gain a better understanding of the diver educational and training program.

After graduating from the assistant instructor level upon completion of an assessment on rescue skills and additional training on the open water, you can continue your training to become a full scuba instructor.  With even more training, experience and passing your IE (Instructor Examination), you’ll earn your instructor certification and you can start teaching others to dive as a fully certified scuba diving instructor.

Different Types of Dive Instructor Programs

There are multiple educational programs to choose from once you’ve decided to become a dive instructor, each with their own focus and appeal.  The majority of scuba diving classes teach recreational scuba divers and diving newcomers the basics of scuba diving.

Courses and instruction programs are also available for technical diving and diving specialties, as well. Technical diving pushes the limits of the scuba field and, along with the added risks of diving to greater depths, among other dangers, allows you to experience parts of the underwater world that only a few will ever see. Specialty diving involves added training for activities such as night diving and cave diving, for example.

The largest and perhaps most recognized educational system for training scuba divers is PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors). Many scuba enthusiasts that are interested in teaching others to dive for fun and recreation prefer PADI as it offers high quality training and instruction, has developed safe and effective programs that ensures both instructors and students have the best possible dive experiences, and it connects divers through the large PADI community.

Some additional education programs that offer recreational, technical and speciality diving training, in addition to PADI, include Scuba Diving International (SDI), the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI), Scuba Schools International (SSI), and Global Underwater Explorers (GUE), among others. Within each school you could basically become both a divemaster and a scuba instructor.