How to Become a Snorkeling Instructor ( A Simple Guide!)

How to Become a Snorkeling Instructor 001

Studying to be a snorkeling instructor takes time and dedication. It stands to reason that you need to already know snorkeling in order to teach the course. The question is – how much experience do you need in snorkeling to qualify as a teacher?

Working as a snorkeling and scuba instructor is a heavily regulated field. There are several clubs and associations that maintain or regulate the practice. The most popular regulating body is known as PADI or the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. PADI is responsible for issuing certifications depending on the skill level of the diver. The goal of PADI is to teach the activity by breaking it down into modules.

Snorkel Instructor vs. Scuba Diving Instructor

What exactly is the difference between these two types of instructors? The difference is the kind of certificate the instructor holds in order to teach others about snorkeling and scuba diving. First of all, it’s important to differentiate scuba and snorkeling. Of the two, snorkeling is actually easier and doesn’t require extensive training.

In fact, recreational snorkeling requires just a few minutes of practice before a complete beginner can get used to the activity. In contrast, scuba diving is much more intensive and requires extensive training before you can actually get into the water. This is because scuba diving involves the use of specialized equipment and going down greater depths. Beginner students dive anywhere from 30 to 60 feet (9 to 18 meters) while in snorkeling, the maximum dive depth is just at 2 feet.

Strictly speaking, there is no snorkeling certification. However, there is a scuba diving certification and if you want to teach snorkeling, you need to be certified as a scuba diver. Skin diving on the other hand is a method that relies completely on how well you can hold your breath with no tank.

Instructor Training - How Long?

Instructor Training - How Long

If you’re motivated to have this as your career, undergoing classes for the instructor course training of PADI should take as little as 7 or 8 months. Advancements in instructor training are counted by how many open water dives you’ve had. The only requirement that increases the waiting period would be the waiting time as a Divemaster. This is because in order to enroll as an open water scuba instructor, you need to be a divemaster for at least 6 months. If you choose to advance on your own time and just have fun however, then it might take longer.

Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Courses and Certification Levels

Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Courses and Certification Levels

PADI certifications can start as early as 10 years of age. Here are the typical scuba certification courses based on the dive skills of the person based on PADI:

Junior Scuba Diver

This is the lowest possible level, ideal for ultimate beginners in underwater sports. Junior Scuba Divers are typically aged between 10 years old to 14 years of age. Some regulating bodies call this the Junior Open Water Diver course. You start learning about the basic skill sets and perhaps even have your swim technique improved. Most snorkelling activities are done in the pool instead of on site. Basic snorkelling skills such as how to breathe or how to fit the mask are also part of this training course.

Open Water Diver

PADI Open water dives is the entry level for recreational scuba diving training. If you want a job as an instructor, then you should definitely have this level of training if you don’t have one already. The course includes both theory and practical training. Proper breathing and equipment use are all part of the course with students taught in pools before being allowed in open water.

Adventure Diver

An adventure diver is basically any Open Water Diver who has gone through at least three scuba experiences. These three scuba experiences are al electives however, which means that you’ll be choosing from a preset collection of locations that’s appropriate for your dive experience. Most of the fun usually starts here as you get to know nature more.

Advanced Open Water Diver

An Advanced Open Water Diver typically includes a deep dive which can be anywhere from 18 to 30 meters. They must also participate in three electives and an underwater navigation dive which should help them properly move around underwater. For an equivalent certification, other certifying bodies like the Scuba School Instructors require that you log in a total of 24 dive activities. Your knowledge of the activity widens.

Rescue Diver

In order to enroll in the PADI Rescue Diver training course, you need at least four open water dive experiences. As the name suggests, this particular training teaches you how to assist others in the water during emergency situations. If teaching people is your ultimate goal, then it’s crucial to train as a rescue diver first because you never know what kind of emergency situations you’ll encounter as a scuba instructor. Rescue Divers are also taught CPR and how to administer first aid.

Master Scuba Diver

To be a master scuba diver, you need to accomplish certification as an Advanced Open Water Diver and Rescue Diver. You also need to log in at least 50 dives and have take 5 different elective specialties.


To begin the complete Divemaster course, you need at least 40 dive excursions under your belt. This particular certification is really just a recognition of added experience. To get the certification of divemaster, you need to complete a total of 60 dives.

Instructor Development Course

Finally, there’s the PADI Instructor Development Course which is the course you want to take if your career goal is to be a PADI Instructor. This particular course has two aspects: the Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI) and the Assistant Instructor. Note though that you need to be a Divemaster for six months before you can even enroll the Instructor Course. Aside from the scuba and first aid training, you also need a medical statement from a physician within the last year showing that you’re physically fit for the courses.

Assistant Instructor Course

You start with the Assistant Instructor or AI program which helps expand your skills and knowledge in teaching PADI courses. The AI program basically helps improve your communication skills so that you’ll be in the position to supervise scuba diving experiences in the pool. However, completing the Assistant Instructor course only means you’ll be working under the guidance of a certified PADI instructor. It’s also possible to just take the assistant instructor course but if you want good paying jobs, it makes sense to proceed to OWSI.

Open Water Scuba Instructor

Once you pass your Assistant Instructor program, the next step is to take an OWSI certification. Once you finish this, you should develop a complete set of teaching skills needed to host scuba and snorkeling programs. Keep in mind, the IDC is the same training your teachers went through in order to teach you. The process isn’t easy however as the IDC requires you to learn all these information in just one week or so. During this time, you’ll learn how to actually teach the core courses of PADI, how to present information, and how to conduct sessions that improve education and safety. Skills you’ll learn in this course include:

  • Risk Management
  • Diver Safety
  • PADI Standards and Procedures
  • History and in Depth Knowledge

Is there an Instructor Examination?

Is there an Instructor Examination

Of course, just because you finished the Instructor Development Course doesn’t mean you’re instantly qualified for a career as an open water scuba instructor. Like lawyers and doctors, you need to take an examination to find out if you’re qualified to teach others. This education assessment is the final step you have to pass in the instructor course so you can apply for any job at a later date.

What Happens After IE?

After you successfully pass the Instructor Examination, you have two choices. You can start hosting classes and teaching others what you know about snorkelling and scuba underwater excursions – both in the pool or in the open water.

Of course, you can also opt to gain more knowledge about the sport and improve your education in the community of divers. Those who want to focus on certain skills can also take another instructor course. For example, there are specialty course options such as excursions at night, enriched air diver, or a self-reliant diver. If you advance further enough with your dive and snorkelling skills, you can actually be an instructor for IDC or even a course director. At these levels, you are in the position to teach the next generation of aspiring teachers.

How Much Do PADI Snorkel Instructors Make?

How Much Do PADI Snorkel Instructors Make

Deciding to teach snorkeling may be a passion project for you but can this profession support you financially? It really depends on where you’ll work as an instructor and the kind of people you will teach. The typical snorkeling instructor earns on a per-class basis. This means that you will earn money per person or group that you teach. An average commission of 50 to 60 dollars per day is typical teaching PADI Open Water Students.

However, some instructors can also earn on a fixed income. This is common in cruise ships or even luxury resorts around the world that offer snorkelling activities. This kind of employment can earn instructors anywhere from 1000 to 1500 USD per month.

Of course, the level of the snorkel instructor is also considered when computing salaries or commissions. A scuba instructor or snorkel instructor with an excellent qualifying certification can command high prices when teaching a select few people.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How many dives do you need to become an instructor?

You need to make approximately 100 dives before gaining the title of scuba instructor – whether you’re aiming to be a PADI instructor or certified under a different regulating body. In order to teach people, you need to first be ackowledged as an open water diver and maintain that status for at least six months or so. After that, you need to be an Advanced Open Water diver, undergo the Rescue Diver Training course, and gain experience through the PADI Divemaster course. After all that, you also have to enroll in associated water workshops including Emergency First Response (CPR) and finally, the Instructor Development Course of IDC. After you have done all that, you should already have 100 dives under your belt or a few numbers short .

Do you have to be certified to snorkel?

You don’t have t be a PADI Divemaster in order to snorkel. In fact, you don’t have to enroll in any classes at all. Snorkelling skills can be easily learned in a matter of minutes. More importantly, snorkeling means you’re only swimming on the surface of the water and would make minimal impact on marine life. In contrast, scuba diving necessitates the use of specialized equipment that could be harmful to you and aquatic life if used incorrectly. That’s why a recognized diver needs to undergo extensive training in order to participate in recreational activities.

How much does it cost to become a PADI dive instructor?

The cost of becoming a PADI instructor is heavily reliant on where you’re going to take your qualifying certification. The cost of the learning materials, equipment, and the Instructor Examination may or may not be included in the PADI instructor development course. This is why if you want to advance with PADI Instructor Certification, you have to find out exactly what is included in the cost of the course.

Prices can be anywhere from 1,798 USD all the way to 10,000 USD. The average cost of an instructor development course however is set at around 3,500USD with almost everything already included. You can find cheaper prices such as training courses that cost only 2,200 USD. However, this is exclusive of the application fees and learning materials of the course – those you have to buy yourself.

How much does PADI IDC cost?

The answer is always dependent on your starting point. If you’re counting your expenses from the beginning, then the total cost can be close to tens of thousands, counting your visits to the dive shop to buy equipment. Once you reach Divemaster level however, the expected cost to get your PADI IDC is around 4,000 USD.

What else do I need to be a PADI instructor?

Finally, keep in mind that a general assessment of your physical fitness is important. You need to have strong lungs, a healthy body, and a healthy mind in order to participate in this activity. Obviously, you need to be a strong swimmer and an assessment will be made at each level of the course. This assessment will help your PADI instructors figure out if you can advance to the next level and hopefully develop beyond basic snorkelling skills and into a full-pledged diving instructor.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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