We offer a “free” divemaster course for our members. But is it really free and what’s the catch?
There are many costs to the DM course which include tuition, dive theory, crew pack and your air, kit and dive site entry. We don’t charge for the tuition for our members. It’s simple really. We give the tuition free, and ask that you reinvest that cost into getting your own kit and getting dive experience in so you’re a more rounded diver.
You’re also expected to come along to as many courses and pool sessions as possible. This will build your experience with students, and also get you more time underwater. You’ll be able to repeat skills, improve them, pick up remediation techniques and see real students in action.
The other costs involved are: registration with PADI (your DM fees), which are an annual cost. You’ll need a divemaster crew pack too. You can go for the “Lite” version, or the “Ultimate“. Personally, I’d for the Ultimate as it has the Encyclopedia of diving and the Scuba Tune-Up workbook. There are two parts to the exams; dive theory and systems. You can do the online Dive Theory too which will be in lieu of the dive theory exam (we charge £70 for this for our DM candidates). The online elearning course for the DM is an additional cost of approx. £120 which will cover the second part. However, you will have to buy one of the crewpacks as you must have the Decal to send off with your application. Full online learning is just under £200. My recommendation: Ultimate Crewpack plus the dive theory online if you need a bit of extra support with your dive theory. Back up your learning with the excellent support of Steve Prior’s online videos.
Kit costs are a whole different story and worthy of another blog post. For UK diving all year round you’ll need a dry suit, fins, relevant thermal clothing, at least one tank, regs, BC, mask, snorkel, weight belt and weights, and other bits and pieces such as DSMB, reel, compass, dive torch, cutting device… Air and dive site entry are an ongoing cost. It’s good to get as many experiences in as possible, and not just rely on the minimum.
You need to do the Deep stuff as part of your course. We prefer that you do the full spec as part of your “prep” for being a DM so you’re diving deep as part of your experience before we start the DM course. This will then cover the Deep part of your DM course. We offer the Deep course on a as-needed basis, so if we know someone needs to do it then we’ll put it on. Likewise the Search and Recovery. You can do the skills for the DM, or the full spec.
You need to know the course is the right choice for you. If you’d like to be running DSDs or jumping in to support with courses, or even running the ones you can as a DM, then it’s worth it. Some people do it to broaden their experiences as a diver. If you’re collecting cert cards, then there are better ones to collect that are more useful to your diving!
Once you’re a DM you’ll have annual fees to cover. Our insurance covers all our instructors, DMs and volunteers when they’re working for Ocean Diver. We don’t pay our staff; we run at cost, and none of us are paid for the work so that’s another consideration if you continue to support courses with Ocean Diver. We’re a club based dive school, so while we offer courses to the general public, our main objective is to get people diving safely. We offer a lot of development and support outside of paid courses which, if we charged for, would cover paying our pro divers. Each dive school works differently; this is just how we choose to do it. We don’t compromise on safety or fun but we prefer to offer the best route for folks to get diving; this isn’t always the best business decision!
Once you’re a DM with some experience, then it’s not a big jump up to the AI, which we offer internship style for our club members who have shown commitment through their divemaster and club activities. In other words, if you’re a regular diver with us and you come along to courses and pool sessions, or offer out diving opportunities to our members then we’re happy to offer you the training if you want it, as a thank you for keeping our divers diving.
Ultimately our professional courses are run in a way to get people UK Diving and passing on the love of diving, and the skills needed for safe diving, to others. It’s not a quick route to a certification; there are other places you can get your DM course far quicker, but you’ll be able to enjoy the course, get diving, and build a network of dive buddies. The best thing to do is to come along to the club and see if it’s the group of people you want to get in the water with. Our club fees are £40 per year and come with a range of benefits. If we offer the diving opportunities for you, with people you feel safe and happy with, then the next step is to formally sign up for the DM course. We can chat through the options at a club night, and take it from there.