Who is the PADI IDC course aimed at?

People from a wide variety of backgrounds successfully complete the IDC, then go on to follow a number of different trajectories. Some divers do it just for fun and the buzz of taking on increasingly demanding training challenges, but the majority are looking for a career in diving instruction. This could be in the form of a full-time, life-changing move to another country, or teaching part-time in your local dive club.

What qualifications and skills do I need to enrol?

You are eligible to enrol for IDC training if you are at least 18 years old and qualified to the level of PADI Divemaster. If you trained with a different dive agency, your qualifications are likely to be accepted. Just check with your preferred training centre to ensure your certification is at the appropriate level. Additionally, your first aid and CPR skills also need to be certified as up-to-date.

How long does it take to complete the IDC?

The course consists of two courses / elements: the Assistant Instructor (AI) which is taken before the Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI). On completion of these two courses—and with your course director’s agreement—you are eligible to enter the PADI Instructor Examination (IE). The learning curve is steep, so the recommended minimum training period is seven days, with ten days being the usual time to completion.

What is the PADI IE?

This is the Instructor Examination, the main rite of passage for PADI instructors. The purpose of the IE is to qualify you as an Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI), so it uses a standardised evaluation process run by Instructor Examiners from your local PADI regional headquarters. The IE is a comprehensive exam: it tests your professionalism, your understanding of the PADI system, your knowledge of dive theory, your personal dive skills and your teaching ability.

The theoretical and teaching skills portion of the IE is usually carried out in a classroom. For the practical component, you’ll need to demonstrate your skills in confined water and open water. This usually means you’ll be tested in a pool and, if conditions permit, the local beach.

What happens if I fail the IE?

To pass the IE you must meet a high enough standard in every part of the syllabus. If you fail you’re allowed one re-take, but this must take place more than five days and less than one year after your first attempt. Your course director will do their utmost to help you meet the requirements of the IE, but—as with any other professional qualification—your success is ultimately in your own hands.

Where can I get support with revision for the IE?

Specimen exam questions for the IDC and IE are available online, as are checklists detailing what you need to know to be perfectly prepared for the IE. If you want to take your preparation to the next level, you can enrol for a programme of e-learning via the PADI online education portal. Of course, you shouldn’t neglect your practical and teaching skills, and you can give these a huge boost by assisting in Scuba classes led by qualified instructors.

How do I choose where to take my PADI IDC?

There’s no straightforward answer to that question, but your experience on the IDC will be determined by a number of factors. One of the most important is your course director: their level of experience and attitude toward trainees will go a long way to determine how effectively you learn. So when you like the look of a training centre, find out what former students say, check out the course director’s CV, and ask yourself whether you like the way they respond to your enquiries.

Ideally, your course director should offer a solid foundation of dive knowledge backed up by current experience in the real world of diving. It’s also a good sign if your training takes place in state-of-the-art facilities, both in the water and in the classroom: free wireless internet and advanced presentation technologies are helpful if you want to perfect your teaching skills. And most importantly of all, look for centres where the intake is limited to a small number of candidates per instructor, where you’ll be treated as an individual and won’t have to fight for your instructor’s attention.

What is a PADI five-star instructor development centre?

The designation of PADI five-star instructor development centre guarantees excellence in professional development. Five-star IDCs are dive centres with a verified commitment to the standards of quality set out by PADI, and which have particular expertise in instructor training. If you’re looking for the very best places in the world to do your IDC, search for providers with PADI career development centre (CDC) status: this rating is the highest achievable, and is awarded to only a select few centres.

Where in the world can I do the IDC?

As with many major life decisions, your choice of training centre will be affected by your location preference. Think long-term, because the place you train as an instructor is likely to become the place you subsequently work. Popular exotic locations include the Caribbean, Australia, South East Asia and the Middle East.

Ultimately, though, practicalities win the day, and you need to ask yourself questions like whether your chosen country is politically stable and whether it’s possible to obtain official permission to work.

What should my next step be?

An excellent first step would be a visit to the website of PADI International where you can search the directory of dive centres offering IDC training. Once you’ve selected a few likely prospects you can begin your in-depth enquiries, and maybe even contact them to discuss your requirements. Remember, if other factors are equal, getting a good feel for the experience and attitude of the course director is all-important.

Enrolling for the PADI IDC can be a life-changing decision, so do your research carefully and you won’t regret taking the plunge.