To pay or not to pay? It’s a hugely controversial topic in scuba diving circles. If you happen to follow any scuba-related boards or groups online, there’s a high chance you’ll have seen this one… shall we say… ‘debated’… passionately. But it’s not all keyboard warriors with nothing better to do. There are some justifiable reasons why people sit so heavily on either side of the argument. If you’re considering becoming a divemaster (not sure why else you’d be here), then it’s essential to know the difference between paid and free divemaster internships. In essence, a paid internship requires you to pay a set price for your training, and a free internship requires you to pay with labor. But, it’s important to know that things are not always as black and white as paid or free. We’ve laid out some key considerations to help you weigh up the real costs of any divemaster internship.
Experience and skill development
One of the key aspects of a divemaster internship is experience. That is, after all, what an internship is all about. You get hands-on experience while you learn, rather than jumping straight from student to professional. But the experience gained from a free divemaster internship will be very different to that gained from one you’ve paid for. Let us explain why…
Free divemaster internships
Work for your certification means you’ll get plenty of experience in the dive industry. This might include filling tanks, admin tasks and other general dive shop duties. You may also get thrown in at the deep end, guiding customers and getting real, hands-on, divemaster experience. Awesome, that’s what you’re here for, right? Right! There’s nothing better than experience when it comes to creating great divemasters. The question is, how beneficial is this experience to your future as a divemaster?
The issue with free internships is that no money gets paid to an instructor to mentor you. This leaves you to fumble through your duties until you find your rhythm. This can be great for some, who love challenge and autonomy. But, it also means you can develop bad habits which go completely unchecked by anyone with more experience.
Paid divemaster internship
If you pay for your divemaster internship, you’re essentially paying for an instructor to guide you through the course. This provides more time to practice skills, read theory and build confidence before being expected to guide divers underwater. And when you do come to guide, at least for the first while, you’ll have an instructor alongside you, ensuring everything runs smoothly.
Supporting the local economy
Free divemaster internships provide dive centers with free staff. In return for your labor, the dive shop trains you, gives you experience, and certifies you. There is nothing wrong with this if both parties feel they are benefitting. Unfortunately, though, the local people often lose out.
Without that free labor, dive centers frequently employ local divemasters. This provides them with a wage and feeds money into the local economy. Much of the world’s diving is in beautiful parts of the globe, where the sun always shines. But all too often the local population can find themselves struggling. This is particularly true if their community was once built around fishing, but the area has since become protected. In cases like this, it is important to help local people adapt to the change by providing alternative jobs.
What does the internship include?
As mentioned, divemaster internships don’t always fit neatly into ‘paid’ or ‘free’, even if they claim to. A paid internship may not cover everything, and a free one might have extra costs. But this is not always a negative thing. As long as you are aware of what is and isn’t included and there are no hidden surprises, you can make an informed choice.
Things which may, or may not, be included in your internship
1. CREWPACKS, MANUALS, AND CERTIFICATIONS
A divemaster course requires some essential tools, manuals, and a final certification if you hope to actually work in the industry. Any or all of these can be extra costs, so it is definitely worth checking!
It’s usually expected that divemaster trainees arrive with most of their gear. And let’s face it, if you’re planning to become a professional diver, there’s really no reason not to. But sometimes this isn’t possible. In which case, you’ll need to know what you can borrow, rent or buy from the dive center and how much it might cost.
3. ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD
Some divemaster internships will offer accommodation and food. This is often the case if the opportunity is on a remote resort or a liveaboard.
This might sound weird, but sometimes there is no guarantee that you will get to dive when you want. You don’t want to arrive at your dive center only to find there are all kinds of restrictions placed on your diving.
The 3W Divemaster Internship
At 3W, we get that every divemaster trainee is different and we try to accommodate that. We keep our dive groups small and give each intern an instructor to guide them through the training. Many of our SSI instructors have also taught with other training agencies such as PADI and CMAS, so you’ll benefit from their collective experience and knowledge.
The philosophy of our divemaster internship is a simple one. We won’t release divemasters into the industry who we wouldn’t employ ourselves. That’s why we offer up to 6 months of diving to build your skills, even if you finish the course in two. Our internship may not be free but we go beyond divemaster basics and teach you all the tricks of the trade. Only then will you to put it all into practice during the rest of your stay.
To give our divemaster trainees an extra edge, we also offer additional courses such as deep dive, sidemount, nitrox, and freediving. Interns can also participate in our Ocean Garden coral farming restoration program and Trash Hero beach clean-ups. Once you’ve finished the internship, you’ll have access to our wide network of friends and the skills to work anywhere in the world.
See you on the island.
Written by by Joe Taylor