Full Immersion Training

By Michael Lawrence

Two top dive professionals—UNEXSO’s General Manager, Ollie Ferguson, and Dive Dominica’s owner and operator, Dave Perryman—talk about what it took to make it in the dive business and where they got “it” from: Bob Brayman’s International Diving Career Institute at Hall’s.

Without the training I got, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today. I’ve dived with sharks and Humpback Whales, worked with film crews and publications from around the world, worked with some of the most beautiful international models and have led a life others can only dream of. I’m very fortunate. I found something I enjoy doing, and I have been able to make a living doing it. My instructor certification from Hall’s opened those doors for me.” These words came from Ollie Ferguson, General Manager of UNEXSO (Underwater Explorers Society) in Freeport, Bahamas.

If you truly desire a satisfying endeavor in life, achieved through the dive industry, Bob Brayman’s International Diving Career Institute at Hall’s, in Marathon, Florida, just might be able to jump-start you in the right direction. An instructor training facility affiliated with NAUI, IDEA, NASDS, PDIC and YMCA, Hall’s has been placing highly qualified individuals in the field for more than 20 years. Bob Brayman’s concept is that it’s not any certifying agency in particular that creates a true professional, it’s the quality of the training you receive. Bob’s reputation for turning out responsible divemasters, excellent instructors and all-around, well-trained industry professionals is considered by many employers to be unsurpassed.

“Of the few ex-pats I’ve had working for me, half came from Hall’s and were directly recommended to me by Bob. They’ve all done a great job,” said Derek Perryman, owner and operator of Dive Dominica and Castle Comfort Dive Lodge in Dominica, in the southeastern Caribbean. “One of the reasons for the success of my operation is my completion of the program,” continued Perryman. “I knew nothing about this industry and was kind of new to diving. It gave me the basis of in-water knowledge, and it also gave me a solid direction just by seeing how a successful dive operation works day-to-day.”

One of the keys to the success of Hall’s graduates is that the training is not just dry classroom sessions, nor is it just divemastering on the daily reef trips. It is a full immersion method of training. Yes, you do classroom work. Yes, you will assist on the boats. But more importantly, you will be in the retail shop and the repair room, you will assist with daily operations and see just what it takes to make it happen. Training takes place in the Florida Keys, a warm, inviting climate similar to where you may end up working.

But, don’t make the mistake of thinking for even a minute that this will be a vacation. “When I went up there, I just wanted to get my instructor’s license,” Perryman said. “I was expecting a little hanky-panky kind of thing and then come home with my certification. Man, did I learn fast! It was very different. It’s a no slacking, get to it or get out approach. I learned right away that this was a serious endeavor.”

Ferguson felt the same way, “Because I had worked in the industry for quite a while, I went in very confident, thinking that I would come out as one of the best in my class. The real experience was, in a word, humbling. I confronted things I never expected to. It was very, very challenging. In the end, I was happy to have just come
out passing.”

A successful instructor with a positive future functions on three distinct levels of awareness. First, stay current. You must be aware of what is going on in the industry today. Stay up with the trends in diving, training and equipment. Second, be competent. Know not only how to simply teach diving, know how to teach your divers their interactive role in the environment. Show them the world, not just the gear. Third, develop your business capabilities. If you can’t run a business and develop a working relationship with your students, you are likely to flounder in the face of competition. Never forget—for the true dive professional, diving is a business.

As Perryman puts it, “Hall’s is something for someone who wants to get into the industry seriously. This is not like a holiday thing. It is something I definitely recommend if you really want to be a part of the industry. Bob runs a top-notch, world-class training program.”

The same feeling goes for Ferguson, “The program weeds out those who are not truly dedicated. It wasn’t until I had been working in the industry confronting real-life situations that I could really appreciate the training I had at Hall’s.”

In addition to good facilities, contemporary gear, on-property housing, financing programs and government grants, you also get the benefit of the Hall’s reputation. Consider this: Hall’s boasts a 100 percent placement rate. Now that’s something you can really take to the bank!

For more information, contact Bob Brayman’s International Diving Career Institute at Hall’s: (800) 331-4255, (305) 743-5929; fax: (305) 743-8168; e-mail: hallsdive @aol.com; website: www.hallsdiving.com.