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Choosing The Right PADI IDC

Taking your PADI Instructor Development Course is not a decision most treat lightly – there is often a considerable commitment both with time and finances so it’s understandable that you want to make sure you choose somewhere that suits your ambition. With this in mind here are a few factors to consider when choosing where to take your course.

Course Director Experience.

One of the major factors to consider is the ability of the Course Director (CD) who will be teaching your PADI IDC. It can be difficult to measure experience as there are many factors that contribute to making a CD that is right for you. Your CD is the person who will be shaping you into the instructor you will become, you’re putting your potential in their hands so you should be sure that they are right for you. Whilst trust and faith in their abilities is ultimately given they shouldn’t tell you what you want so don’t be scared to ask questions you feel are important to you - where have they worked, taught, can they relate to the environment you’re from or are going to, what credentials do they hold and what instructor specialties can they teach you as part of any MSDT program are some examples. Another big question could be whether the CD will be delivering your entire IDC, lots of dive centres make use of Staff Instructors which is great, but if this results in the absence of the CD for extended sessions then maybe you’re not getting the full value from your IDC.

CD’s are awarded ratings each year in the form of Gold, Silver and Platinum which denote the number of instructors they have certified that year. Whilst this is not a stand-alone measure of quality, it does show that they are teaching IDC consistently so they will be well versed with the content and used to delivering it.


A second major consideration is the facility you choose. Are all your various learning sessions conducted on-site or do you need to travel to use a pool or to a classroom far away from the dive centre? Having on-site facilities means less time transfering from one place to another which maximises your sessions and gives more opportunity for extra practice. Consider the classroom, is it spacious and comfortable with access to power outlets and wifi for use of digital devices? Is there a pool or confined water access where you can hone your skills in your down time? How is the general diving in the location you have chosen, is it conducive to your expectations of what you want to achieve? What safety commitments does the facility advocate, do they have first aid kits, oxygen kits, recompression chamber access, medical facility within close proximity? Whilst we never hope to use some of these entities they show a dedication to diver safety and education. As an example, on Utila, we use our recompression chamber as an educational tool in all professional level training by conducting orientation sessions and completing dry-dives and tender duty operations.

As with CD’s, dive centres have different designations accredited to them too. 5 star IDC centres, 5 star IDC resorts, Career Development Centres all require certain standards to be met to gain the rating but they don’t really effect your IDC. Something to be somewhat wary of is how facilities sometimes push a statistic as a marketing tool, a pass rate is the big one with IDC. Some ‘guarantee’ a pass which of course you can’t, this is purely down to how the candidate performs in their examinations, what they really mean is ‘if you fail we’ll let you try again’. Some say 100% IDC success which sounds great but passing IDC is not the same as passing IE, the IE is what certifies you as an instructor so whilst they all sound impressive they are not a sole reason to choose that facility. Having an unsuccessful candidate does not make a CD or a facility ‘bad’, within the process of IDC we must never forget that there is a responsibility on the candidate to remain engaged, take on the feedback and apply so that growth is achieved.


Of course this is a factor, but it if your goal is to become an instructor and not just call yourself an instructor then it is not as important as the previous two categories. If you have a CD that suits your ambition and a facility equipped to meet that then the price is the price and it is worth it! If all you are looking for is the cheapest option then your research will be quick, but be realistic and factor in extras like accommodation, living expenses, travel costs because many ‘cheap’ IDCs take place in locations that are expensive to get to so you’ll still need to balance your budget.

In our IDCs we offer candidates the chance to repeat IDC for free if they have not attained the grade or if we collectively feel you will benefit more from repeating, but this remedial work might come at a cost in a lot of places especially if they don’t run IDCs consistently so it might be an extra cost to enquire about. Also, what after care is provided, does the CD and/or facility have a job placement assistance program to help you find your first job so you can complete the dream that you signed up for?


PADI standards dictate an IDC can be taught between six and ten days depending on eLearning completion. These ‘minimums’ are very common durations, lets be honest it is a business and the longer they take the less overall profit is made so this can manifest itself in some long days with little time for added practice beyond that which is required to complete the IDC so it might suit you better to find a longer IDC program as the extra day(s) can offer some relaxation and they typically include extra workshops and extra presentation practice, rather than just the minimum training requirements.

Whatever you decide, be sure to prepare thoroughly, pay attention and stay involved in the sessions and be receptive to the process. I’m sure I speak on behalf of all trainers by wishing you the best of success. Have a look at our high-quality instructor courses right here: Our contributor Stephen J. Aynsley is a 4-year PADI Platinum Awarded Course Director in Utila, Honduras. Follow him on Instagram @padicoursedirectorsja or on Facebook

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