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PADI Professional Scuba Diving Certification Levels

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a Divemaster, Master Scuba Diver Trainer and Master Instructor? It can be confusing! However, there is a sequence to PADI Professional Certifications, just as there is for PADI Recreational levels. In this Blog, we take a look at the various professional levels, the order they fall in, and the responsibilities of each.


(Note: Because you need to be a PADI Rescue Diver before you can take professional levels, if you are not yet a Rescue Diver, you may want to read our Blog about recreational levels to get you prepared).



Introduction to Professional Levels


Let’s begin with a look at PADI Professional levels in order of achievement. Similar to PADI’s recreational levels these need to be taken in sequence and levels may not be skipped over.

  • Divemaster

  • Assistant Instructor

  • Open Water Scuba Instructor

  • Specialty Instructor

  • Master Scuba Diver Trainer

  • IDC Staff Instructor

  • Master Instructor

  • Course Director


PADI Divemaster


The PADI Divemaster course is the first level of professional diver training. To enrol on a PADI Divemaster Course or Divemaster internship you need to be at least 18 years old, a certified Rescue Diver with current EFR, and have a minimum of 40 logged dives.

PADI Divemasters have exemplary dive skills and are role models to other divers. Once certified as a PADI Divemaster you are able to work in the diving industry as a dive guide, organise dive travel and trips, and you may also be called upon to assist PADI Instructors while they are conducting PADI Courses.


Divemasters are an important part of the scuba diving industry and as such, other divers will look to you for advice, assistance, and to help with problem solving. Take a look at our Divemaster Packages here.


Assistant Instructor


The PADI Assistant Instructor certification is a step between Divemaster and PADI Instructor. To become a PADI Assistant Instructor (AI), you complete a portion – but not all – of the PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC).


The PADI Assistant Instructor Course is a great idea if you do not have time to complete a full IDC, are not sure if you want to teach, or for those who want to spread the financial commitment required for a full IDC.



Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI): AKA PADI Instructor


PADI Instructors are the most sought after professionals in the diving industry. To become a PADI Instructor you will need to have 100 logged dives, complete a PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC), be certified as an EFR Instructor, and successfully pass the PADI Instructor Exams (IE). The EFR Instructor exams form part of our comprehensive IDC program.

As a PADI Instructor, you will be able to teach all of PADI’s core courses: Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, EFR, and Divemaster, as well as programs for children, the peak performance buoyancy specialty course, and three conservation specialty courses.


Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT)


A PADI Instructor who has issued at least 25 PADI certifications and earned five additional PADI Specialty Instructor certifications can apply to be a Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT).

As a PADI MSDT not only can you certify Master Scuba Divers, you’ll also have increased chances of finding employment because you can teach more courses and you already have 25 certifications. That’s why we offer complete MSDT Instructor Internships, to take Divemasters right through to Master Scuba Diver Trainers! This is our flagship professional program here in Koh Tao!


Popular Specialty Instructor Courses at FIFTY SIX DIVE


At 56DIVE we highly recommend gaining specialty instructor ratings in at least three of our most popular specialties (and most popular specialty certificates globally) including:


Deep Diver Specialty Instructor Rating

Wreck Diver Specialty Instructor Rating

IDC Staff Instructor


Once you’ve gained some recreational certifications under your belt you may want to consider taking your Instructor training further to enable you to work with training other Instructors. As the name suggests, PADI IDC Staff Instructors assist Course Directors during PADI Instructor Development Courses.



Master Instructor


The PADI Master Instructor certification is awarded to IDC Staff Instructors who have been PADI Instructors for at least two years and meet the following requirements:

  • Have issued at least 150 PADI certifications at a variety of levels

  • Have assisted on at least two PADI IDCs

  • Have issued at least 10 Emergency First Response certifications

  • Have participated in at least three PADI professional member seminars

Course Director


The highest level of PADI Professional possible is the rank of PADI Course Director. PADI Course Directors are the only level of professional that can conduct Instructor Development Courses.

Because this is such a high ranking position, Master Instructors need to apply for a place on a PADI Course Director Training Course (CDTC) – and there are only a limited number of places available annually – and in very limited locations – so be prepared to fly!

Application is based on a number of factors that include, number of certifications issued, ability to pass the theory component of a PADI IE (to be retaken), the applicants quality record, and their contribution to the diving industry and marine conservation.



Now that you have an understanding of profession levels what’s your next step? If you are ready to start developing, or enhacing, your professional diving resume, get in touch!


For more information or to make a reservation, contact us on info@fiftysixdive.com or fill out our contact form and we’ll get right back to you.


We look forward to welcoming you to diving in Koh Tao soon!


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