How long does it take to reach the goal of PADI instructor?

Once you get it into your head that you want to become a Scuba Diving Instructor, it’s difficult to concentrate on anything else. 

It’s exhilarating to imagine yourself underwater, exploring the beauty of the underwater world.

Looking at breathtaking stuff that you’ve only ever seen before on TV.

The dream of having a career that allows you to travel and meet new people is irresistible.
Becoming a SCUBA Diving Instructor will change your life in more ways that you can imagine. 

How long does it take to reach the goal of PADI instructor?

As a complete beginner, you’ll need a minimum of 6 months from your first course to becoming an Instructor. You’ll spend that time learning and gaining experience. Once you’ve logged 100 dives and reached the level of PADI Divemaster you can then start your final instructor training.

The Start of your journey

OK, let’s start at the very beginning. If you’re a complete beginner, then first you need to learn how to dive.

The PADI Open Water Diver Course

The first course that you’ll take is the PADI Open Water Diver Course. 

It’s the world’s most popular scuba diving training course, giving you a license to scuba dive anywhere in the world. 

There is a lot to take in on this course. 

Of course you’ll learn the skills needed to be certified as a diver. 

You’ll learn to dive, and you’ll learn some diving theory. 

Your Instructor will take you on 4 Open Water dives where you can practice what you learned in confined water. 

You might not realise it at the time, but this will be the most influential course that you’ll take.
You’ll soak up knowledge, and you’ll also learn skills.
You’ll also soak up important attitudes and beliefs.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression

It’s surprising just how much your future attitude will be moulded by the days on your PADI Open Water Diver course. 

Your respect for the underwater environment and your commitment for safety will be heavily influenced by the opinions and actions of your Instructor and the team around you.

As you’re planning on becoming a PADI Instructor yourself in the future, you won’t fail to notice if the teaching style that your instructor is using is successful or not. 

Right from the start you’ll find yourself saying things like
“Wow, what a great way of explaining something” 


“When I become an Instructor, I’d never say something like that!”

Either way, right from the start, you’re beginning to notice how people learn.

It becomes clear that every person has their own way of absorbing information.

The PADI way of teaching

You’ll be introduced to the PADI system of training. 

The structure makes sure that different learning styles are covered.
You’ll see how theory and skills are introduced to new students, and how they interact with each other. 

Most of this information will be absorbed naturally as you learn. 

You can simply enjoy your training while your sub-conscious mind is picking up all of the information that you’ll need later in your training.  

PADI Advanced Open Water Course

As the name suggests, this is just another Open Water Course, but a little more Advanced! 

The course is designed to give newly qualified divers more experience. 

You’ll complete 5 dives with a PADI Instructor. 

Each dive will have a theme, maybe a wreck dive, or maybe a night dive. 
You’ll extend your experience while your Instructor makes sure that you’re not picking up any “bad habits” along the way. 

One of the dives will be a deep dive, and another will be a navigation dive. 

Once you’ve finished this course, you’ll be qualified to dive down to a depth of 100 feet or 30 metres. 

More sub-concious learning for the future

As you work through this short course, you’ll notice how your skills and confidence will grow. 

But more than anything, you’ll be aware of the encouragement and the empathy that your Instructor will show. 

Instinctively these experiences will have an effect on the way that you’ll instruct others in the future. 

PADI Specialty Courses

PADI Specialty Courses are  designed to give you experience at the same time as learning new skills with a professional. 

There are many to choose from, and they are fun to do!

So, have fun, learn more and enjoy your development as you move forward with your new and exciting venture. 

PADI Rescue Diver Course

Next up is the PADI Rescue Diver course

Many divers tell me that this is one of the most enjoyable courses that they have taken. 

The course usually takes only a few days to complete, however the effect on people is huge. 

It’s amazing how people change during this Course.

They become aware of everything going on around them, paying close attention to little details that would have gone unnoticed before they became Rescue Divers.

Naturally you learn rescue skills,  but much more than that is the development of your anticipation of what might happen in certain situations.

During your Rescue Course your awareness of others increases dramatically.


Awareness is crucial to your development towards being an instructor.

It’s one of the main atributes that separate good instructors from mediocre ones. 
As your training continues, your own awareness will develop more and more. 

Get involved with the Teaching Team!

Once you become a PADI Rescue Diver, you can become part of the Teaching Team. 
Of course you can’t give briefings, or directly interfere with training, but you can be in the water acting as a Safety Diver.

This is NOT the same as being a Certified Assistant. 
Your job will be to look after the Instructors and Divemasters

In some countries, you might need to have a certificate of medical fitness to dive, and insurance. 

But you’re going to need both of these to become an instructor, so might as well get them now and start to get experience of teaching right now. 

EFR First Aid and CPR course

To be a Rescue Diver, you need to be trained  in first aid and CPR. 

The EFR course is ideal for this. You learn all of the basics to become a First Responder. 

The certificate is valid outside of scuba diving. It’s general First Aid. 


EFR Instructor Course

Following on from your EFR First Aid and CPR course, you are able to become a First Aid Instructor!

This is great news for you. 

It gives you the chance to learn how to teach others, and you’ll find out more about how people learn. 
During this course you’ll encounter several teaching techniques that will be invaluable to  you for teaching both First aid AND Scuba Diving in the future. 

Positive Coaching

One of the most valuable teaching techniques you’ll learn is that of Positive Coaching. 

It’s where you give targeted compliments or praise for specific achievements in order to improve performance and increase confidence.

It takes some practice to master, but once you learn how and when to use Positive Coaching, you’ll find it one of the most powerful teaching techniques that you’ll ever use. 

In my opinion it’s essential that you learn these methods in order to be a brilliant and successful PADI Instructor

Divemaster Course

The first time that you realise that your input makes a big difference to other people’s lives is during your Divemaster Course. 

It’s on this course that you learn how to demonstrate skills clearly, give dive briefings, lead dives and brush up instructor level dive theory.

It’s also the course where you realise just how important it is to follow the guidance and standards that are in the PADI Instructor Manual. 

The groundwork gained on your Divemaster Course is crucial to being prepared for the next step. The IDC!

The PADI Instructor Development Course

This is the course where you learn to teach. 

You learn how to teach skill development effectively. 
Also you learn how to teach in the classroom. 

During your IDC, you will learn how to conduct all of the PADI courses, from beginner to professional.

You will also learn the safe and enjoyable diving techniques that make PADI such a successful organization, as well as how to market yourself as a PADI Instructor in today’s dive industry.

Click here to find out details of the latest PADI IDC. The 2020 PADI IDC explained

And here to find out What happens on a PADI IDC 

It’s becoming increasingly popular to attend a PADI IDC Internship where you might spend more time learning how to become a PADI Instructor in a real life environment. 

Chris Azab

Chris Azab

Chris is an amazing PADI Course Director and teaches IDCs in Europe and in Egypt. 
You can find more about her courses and schedule on her website:


After the PADI Instructor Exam

Once you’ve successfully passed your PADI Instructor Exam, you’ll need to wait for PADI to confirm that you’re in teaching status. 

Depending on where in the world you’ll be teaching you might need to have liability insurance cover.

Still a Lot to Learn

Just like when you passed your driving test, you’ll still have a lot to learn.

Your students will teach you a lot! 

You’ll learn from every one of them, as you improve your teaching methods along the way.

How to become a PADI Instructor

Start by teaching courses to people who can already dive! 

The PADI Open Water course is probably the hardest course for an instructor to teach.

So start by teaching adventure dives!

Teaching people who already have confidence in the water is much easier than complete beginners. 

Also the courses are much shorter, giving you more time to reflect on your teaching skills between courses. 

What is your Future?

We only have one life. We need to live it. 

I hope that you will become a PADI Instructor. 

I know that your life will change, and that you’ll change the lives of other people. 

More information:

There are another couple of articles that might help:
Now is the time to become a PADI Instructor


The rewards of helping people meet their dreams – a journey of passion

Last modified: 10th January 2023
Author: Steve Prior