Helping as a PADI assistant instructor or Divemaster isn’t much different in an Advanced Open Water diver course, but in many ways, it can be more satisfying.
As a certified assistant, you’re invaluable to instructors teaching the PADI Open Water Diver course – after all, helping instructors mold new divers is probably the most important role you’ll ever take on. But, taking those newly certified divers and helping them navigate the Advanced Open Water Diver course is just as valuable in its own way, and offers new challenges that may lead you to instructor and beyond.
The main challenge, of course, is becoming familiar with the specialties. Whether it’s for Adventure Dives such as Wreck, Boat, Underwater Navigation etc., you’re not just increasing teaching ratios for the instructor, you’re also able to act as an inwater supervisor during the course – and the more you know, the more helpful you’ll be.
“Many Adventure Dives allow indirect supervision by the instructor,” says Karl Shreeves, PADI Worldwide Technical Development Executive. “This allows a certified assistant to be in the water with student divers providing guidance and supervision. Of course, the instructor is still responsible for assessing performance.” With a few exceptions, as a certified assistant, you can take an active role in supervising Adventure Dives and guiding divers through completing tasks. And, with a few certified assistants, a PADI Instructor can run several different Adventure Dives at the same time.
For example, imagine you’re on a boat with an instructor who is running an Advanced Open Water Diver course. Four divers need to complete the Dry Suit Adventure Dive while two additional divers are doing the Boat Adventure Dive. During the open water dive, the instructor could supervise the four dry suit divers and assess performance of the various buoyancy control skills. You could dive with the other two divers. The key inwater skills for the Boat Dive are navigating to and from the boat, making a safety stop and deploying a surface marker buoy. By coordinating with the instructor, you could make sure the divers navigate back the boat to meet up with the other group near the end of the dive. All divers ascend with you and the instructor, performing the required safety stop together, and then your two divers complete the surface marker buoy skill for the instructor to assess.
Taking things a step further, on some Adventure Dives you can even be the one to assess performance. An Assistant Instructor can teach the Peak Performance Buoyancy course – the first dive of which counts as an Adventure Dive – under the direction of an instructor (meaning an instructor is available, ready to answer questions or help with any issues). PADI Divemasters and Assistant Instructors, after completing instructor training and earning the Specialty Instructor rating, can also conduct the Digital Underwater Photographer course under the direction of an instructor.
It’s rewarding to introduce new divers to scuba diving, but assisting with the Advanced Open Water Diver course offers a change of pace. It enhances your experiences in teaching situations, and you watch the new divers you helped teach grow into more experienced divers.
Mostly, though, assisting an instructor teaching Advanced Open Water Diver is fun and it adds to diver safety. And that’s a win-win, in anyone’s book.