Are you a “multiple organisation” instructor? Why?
Some of you are, some of you are not! So what and who are we?
Looking back at the evolution of teaching scuba diving throughout the last 60 years, history shows us the rise (and the fall) of many dive training organisations).
It would take just a few clicks on the internet to find out the answers to the following questions:
Which organisation was first?
Who was the founding father of the first-ever dive training system?
How did these organisations come to existence?
But more complex questions would be:
Which organisation is ‘the best? (and to what criteria is ‘the best’ defined?
Which organisation is ‘the biggest’? (and would that also imply to be ‘the best’?
How many dive training organisations are out there? (believe me, rather a whole lot!)
What are the differences between those organisations (and I am not talking about the membership fees)?
The list continues:
This article is NOT meant to start dissecting the different dive training organisations that exist; it would be like writing a complete encyclopedia, and by the time it is finished, I would probably have to rewrite and update a part of it, as most dive training organisations constantly evolve, improve and change.
So what is this article for?
During the many years of evolution in dive training, we can easily state that those dive professionals who started their career in the early years of 1970-1980 were affiliated with just one dive training organisation. This decision was mostly by choice but don’t forget; there were limited choices.
How did we get ‘hooked’ as professionals to our first dive training organisation?
Was it a friend that became your colleague? Was it the dive centre where we took our initial first scuba course? Diving and the diving business in the 70s and 80s were not the same as in the current years! Is it essential to understand the business of those years and the evolution we have gone through? Maybe yes, maybe no. It depends on how deep you want to immerse yourself into the dive business history. As the internet didn’t exist in those years, the only advice here I can give you is to look up some ‘old timers’ in the dive industry and talk in person to those instructors with 30+ years of career in the industry. But do it quickly as many of those dive professionals who were active all those years, are becoming hard to find!
Getting to today, in the year 2022, what has changed within the dive business?
First, let me take you back to dive training and its evolution. Did we change so much about the dive training in all those years? A human needs to learn to control body and mind by using dive equipment that helps us stay below the surface. Was Charles Darwin a slow learner? We, humans, have not adapted yet to scuba diving in a matter that it becomes more natural, or do you think we have already become an evolved scuba species? No! That means that
the only thing that has changed during the last seventy years is the evolution of the dive equipment! Yes, dive equipment has evolved tremendously, and no arguing there; it has made our scuba life easier and more comfortable! We could even argue that it became ‘safer’ as well?
But does all of that also apply to teaching scuba? I compare it to driving a car and learning to drive a car…
In the 1970s, a car was not equipped with power steering, nor was ABS a standard safety feature! We had to learn and train some muscles to park a car without the wheel being spun with two fingers in both directions. In addition, we had to control our brakes when making an emergency stop and avoid getting into an uncontrolled spin with the car.
Do we still teach our students to park a car the same way these days as fifty years ago? Even though they can now do it with two fingers on the steering wheel compared to using all their forces of two well-trained arms?
Do we still teach emergency breaking, even though ABS became a standard feature in every car (not talking here about the how/why ABS became a standard feature and how that improved road safety!?
Maybe teaching scuba hasn’t changed that much? We still need to absorb the theory in one way or another. We still need basic skill training in a confined place to make sure there is enough safety. Training on dealing with those everreturning mistakes like flooded masks, regulators not being replaced quick enough to take your next breath, shared air, etc. Finally, let us not forget the last step of the dive training: going into the deeper water, perfecting those skills,
and becoming self-confident, well-trained, safe divers!
No matter to which dive training organisation we are connected/affiliated, during my research of about 100 currently existing dive training organisations (check out the list on Wikipedia, I haven’t found any organisation that advocates the opposite training! Train as unsafe, fast and unfriendly as possible (or something in those ideas, words, semantics).
All dive training organisations have the same exercises in their curriculum, with a few left and right changes that make up for maybe a 1% change within the entire scuba course, but that is about it! So that can not be why we change to another agency or step into another one and become ‘multiple agencies’ affiliated?
The only other reason I can come up with is pure and simple: MONEY!
Money-related issues are partly business, services, certifications, careers and much more. As dive professionals, we pay the annual dues, asked by most of the dive training organisations for which, in return, we receive services that can be divided into many categories: insurance, helpdesk, business-related services, grow possibilities, publicity, training materials (although these are primarily payable separately, support materials, networking possibilities, dive travel opportunities and so on!
In these matters, many dive training organisations differ a lot.
Some have higher membership fees but offer much more publicity, and we all know that advertising doesn’t come for free! Some dive training organisations work under a non-profit banner, so less money goes in/out, and less money is available for services, publicity and much more! Are we willing to accept these terms? Are we aware of these differences when becoming
a dive professional, no matter who brought us into that specific organisation/agency?
When becoming a dive professional, was your professional path already made up by you? Did you start by making a tenyear or even a five-year plan, or was there no plan? Were you going to establish a sizeable international dive centre, or were you aiming to teach out of the trunk of your car, being humble and just looking to earn some money to keep on paying for
those dive trips somewhere in the world?
By looking at these two forms of both professional dive careers, isn’t there a significant difference in the support needed from the dive training organisation?
And so, is the financial part accumulated in the membership fee also different?
Maybe you started as a dive professional, teaching from the back of your car and later on have grown into buying a nice bigger van to be able to change into your drysuit without getting wet from the rain and thing next you knew, five other divers were doing the same in YOUR van, so you decided to invest in a nice trailer, so at least your van isn’t always wet on the inside after the dives, and that unique ‘smell’ isn’t coming out of the walls during the sunny days when you parked your scuba van outside the supermarket for some shopping (and so reminding you that those other divers, constantly changing in your van, are really in need of a toilet during/after each dive…or is it just that diving related smell that is always around, no matter what you do to avoid it?).
In a way, we evolve, and we change, and so do the dive training agencies; unfortunately, not always for the better!
Their profile can also change; at some moment, it becomes incompatible with yours, with your five-year or ten-year plan. Or perhaps it simply becomes inconsistent with your opinion on how you like to teach.
So what do you do?
Step into another organisation and keep being a member in both, or crossover and burn the old bridge?
In 1990-2000, more and more dive professionals saw new dive training organisations on their horizon. Some training organisations specialise in one subject of the scuba world; an example is technical diving. Before 1990, technical diving was just part of diving; it was part of the standard diving community, and there was no reason for splitting that up. (unless we go into areas such as speciality diving such as military, commercial, etc.).
Did you know that until the year 2000, several dive training agencies had decompression diving as a standard within their entry-level courses? Even today, some organisations still do!
Dive professionals started to compare the services offered by these ‘new’ organisations/agencies, the membership fees and what was provided in return. The simple truth is that the dive professionals are the customers of the dive training organisations and should act that way!
Comparing the services offered and rendered by the dive training agency is becoming the major ballgame these days!
And maybe, so it should be?
Those “old timers” we spoke of earlier will remember very well the days that the dive training agency was put on a ‘pedestal’ by them. They gladly paid and paid the membership fees and wished for (almost nothing in return but the Ccard for the newly trained student (although they even had to pay separately for this service and to ship it).
Those days were a long time ago, and now, you can choose once you have become a dive professional!
You can join other agencies; you can either switch or step in and offer multiple training organisations courses and certifications. Some organisations provide numerous training organisations, while others demand 100% exclusivity!
We can grow our business by joining the Maximus amongst them or just the opposite, choosing the underdog in the play field of dive training agencies, or perhaps both!
If it gives you the opportunity the make your dive business grow, why not join more than one dive training organisation? If the extra membership fee is worth the extra publicity, the additional services, etc.
Check it out, compare and don’t forget, it is the ‘scuba business’! You are the professional, and you are the one building the business and paying the bills. You are the customer of the dive training agency! They want your money.
Don’t forget: nothing comes for free unless it is the sunlight to make those waters we dive in a wonderful blue!
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