By Shirley Vanderbilt
Did you know that, upon completion of your dive career training you can walk away with just about any combination of certifications you could think of, from almost any variety of certifying agencies? Are you planning to make your choice of dive training institute based on the school's reputation and the quality of instruction or upon the specific brand of certification you will receive at the end of your training? There's more to consider here than name brands. There's the quality of your training and the marketability of your skills. Does the school make it easy to acquire financial assistance to fund your education? Is the setting a beautiful, tropical resort for your apprenticeship with living coral reefs for your open water practice? Is the training pace a comfortable 40 hour week, with plenty of time off for relaxation or personal tutoring? And, more important for some of you, what are the entry requirements? Are you eligible for training and certification without prior experience, without waiting to acquire some magical number of dives? Finally, can the school offer a 100 percent placement rate to move you toward an exciting and lucrative career in the dive industry?
What you may find, once you strip away the certification labels, is that the essence of your choice of training lies not so much within a certain product but actually within the qualities of the training institution itself, its longstanding performance, reputation and the true market value of its graduates.One professional in the field who has long recognized this concept is Bob Brayman, owner of Hall's Diving Center and the International Diving Career Institute at Hall's. Bob's forward vision and dedication to quality training has led him to open the doors of the career institute to a variety of certifying agencies so his graduates will have freedom to move beyond the barriers of specific labels. Describing his school as the "industry's choice," Bob notes that his 100 percent placement rate over the past six years, the institute's 18 year reputation for consistent education and the high employer demand for Hall's graduates demonstrates the school's ability to turn out quality, apprenticed professionals. This consistency is only one of the factors that makes Hall's an excellent choice for your education.
Many years ago, Bob Brayman and his training staff set out to establish what has now become a unique, copyrighted curriculum, available only at Hall's. Based on a clear and easy learning format supplemented by workbooks, guides and videos, this curriculum is continually upgraded and redesigned to meet the challenges of an expanding industry and an eclectic student population. The emphasis of the institute is upon enhancing each candidate's training by reducing anxiety and providing ample opportunity for actual hands-on experience. Apprenticeship, as a major component of the program, places trainees with actual customers at the retail cash register, behind the repair counter, in the pool and on the boat attending to divemaster duties. For the dive industry employer, this apprenticeship proves invaluable as the new employee can be put to work without any extensive on the job training. With this approach, Hall's has cultivated a comprehensive network of potential job placements with satisfied employers.
By providing students with the credentials and certifications that open the doors of practically all employers in the industry, Hall's has revolutionized the world of dive training. It's a win-win situation; the student has more to offer the employer as well as future customers and the financial rewards to the student increase because of high profile marketability. While not geared to any specific certification agency, Hall's does offer a wide variety of choices with several dozen work related certifications available from NAUI, PADI, NASDS, YMCA, CMAS, DAN, ACUC, IANTD, American Heart Association, Lifeguard Systems, International Association of Scuba Technicians, National Safety Council and American Red Cross. This covers a whole gamut of skills-dive instructor, first aid techniques, U/W specialties, DAN oxygen, enriched air, rebreather training and equipment repair, just to mention a few.
All of the experience needed to become a successful dive professional is built into Hall's 10 week program, so even a nondiver may enter the program and graduate with the same talents as an experienced candidate. Unlike other institutes, as soon as space is available, you may enter the program at whatever point matches your experience and certification level, even if it's as a beginner. Options are also available for experienced divers and those who choose to forego the resort and retail track. Home study with a shortened residence program, full residence from basic to instructor and "instructor only" components are available. Hall's schedule allows for a great deal of flexibility in meeting individual needs.
In the heart of the Florida Keys, Hall's Diving Center on Marathon is also in the heart of the Faro Blanco Marine Resort, a casual marina setting accented by tall oaks and coconut palms, tropical flowering shrubs, quaint lighthouse and an expansive waterfront view of the Gulf of Mexico. The Keys' living reefs are just minutes from the marina. On the grounds of the resort, a Olympic sized freshwater pool doubles as underwater classroom and oasis for quiet relaxation. An attractive Mediterranean-style stucco building at the entrance of the resort houses Hall's retail dive shop, repair facilities, administrative offices and the training institute. A recently expanded modern classroom features state of the art audio/visual teaching tools and a large reference library. In this setting, students have the advantage of comfortable, well designed facilities for formal training as well as an actual resort and dive shop environment for their apprenticeship.
Hall's offers very competitive rates and connections to a wide spectrum of resources, including government grants, veteran's educational benefits and the institute's own financing and credit programs. Comfortable accommodations arranged through the institute include Faro Blanco's economy cottages, houseboats or deluxe condos with full access to the resort's facilities, restaurants and marina.
Hall's custom dive boat, the Lady Key Diver, is a 40 foot vessel serving both students and recreational customers. Students have the benefit of the warm Florida weather, a wide variety of offshore wrecks and reefs and the Keys' natural beauty.
There are as many reasons for choosing a dive career as there are students but some common themes seem to be fun, travel and profit. In the lucrative, fast growing arena of diving, jobs are now available worldwide, from romantic island resorts to challenging research projects.
If you've decided this is your path, the next step is to choose the training institute that best meets your needs and will prepare you to enter the workforce as a highly qualified, well rounded professional. Contact the staff at Hall's for more information on your training options with Bob Brayman's International Diving Career Institute. Call (800) 331-4255, in Florida (305) 743-5929, fax (305) 743-8168 or write to 1994 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL 33050.