Scuba Instructors Go to Sub School
By Bill Harrigan
Learning your job on the cutting edge can be challenging and fun, the problem is knowing where to find it. Technology is changing the world so fast it's hard for anyone to keep up. If you are considering a career in diving and want to be sure your training incorporates the latest developments, try a training center such as Bob Brayman's International Career Institute at Hall's in Marathon, Florida. For two decades, Bob has continuously adjusted the curriculum to stay on the leading edge of sport diving. In fact, Hall's has helped define that edge by innovatively introducing new combinations of training to expand the perimeter of experience of its instructors. The latest additions at Hall's, the Submersible Systems Technology (SST) Submarine and the Dive Comm underwater communications system, are good examples of Bob's intent to provide the latest and most exciting training possible.
Hall's Submarine: The SST sub looks as if it belongs on the set of a James Bond movie. Sleekly constructed of aluminum and fiberglass, the sub is 16 feet long and less than four feet wide. It's a wet sub, so you ride inside wearing regular dive gear. A pilot and two passengers sit one behind the other beneath a sliding Plexiglas canopy.
The essence of the sub is speed, of course. Traveling at three and a half knots gives you a whole new perspective of the underwater world. Spatial relationships change dramatically at this speed and distances seem to shrink. Sitting in a relaxed, upright position changes your outlook as well, making it easier to swivel your head from side to side for a more panoramic view. The sub can get you upclose, too, because the airplane-like controls make it very maneuverable in the hands of a skillful pilot. There may not be a submersible like this in everyone's future, but right now it's a unique and horizon-expanding experience available only to Hall's graduates.
Underwater Communications: The silent world is wonderful, unless you have something to tell your dive buddy, then it's just frustrating. Most sport divers, though, have to make do with cryptic notes on slates or the underwater version of charades. Usually this results in a surface scene after the dive where your partner asks what you meant by that weird hand signal and you explain with your last ounce of patience that you were trying to point out the elusive Purple-spotted Stickleback Eel. Underwater communications systems can change all that, but the systems with good range and clarity utilize expensive technology that limits their application to industry, rescue and science. Hall's DiveComm dual frequency single sideband unit gives students the opportunity to learn how to operate a sophisticated system and become familiar with its capabilities. Considering the number of instructors who have gone on from Hall's to positions with metropolitan police departments, university diving programs and even NASA, this sort of training can be a useful advantage in the job market.
International Diving Career Institute: The training programs at Hall's have been developed with one basic thought in mind: to allow someone in good health but without previous training or experience to become a confident instructor with all the skills needed for a responsible and good paying job at a dive resort or on a live-aboard. The extraordinary job placement record at Hall's reflects the success of this approach and the reputation Hall's graduates have in the sport diving industry.
Ten, One and One: The heart of Hall's training is the 10 week Professional Store and Resort Instructor Training Program. Even students starting from scratch can enroll in this program and still finish in 10 weeks. Most students, however, also stay on for two additional programs, the one week Professional Rebreather Instructor Training Program and the one week Professional Deep Tech Instructor Training Program. In the course of these 12 weeks, Hall's students acquire 29 certifications from 10 different agencies, including organizations such as PADI, NAUI, American Canadian Underwater Certification (ACUC), NASDS, Technical Diving International (TDI) and the International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers (IANTD).
Professional Store and Resort Instructor: In order to provide the most useful and well-rounded instructor training program possible, Bob decided Hall's would pick and choose among the courses offered by these agencies in order to assemble the best possible combination. PADI, NAUI and the ACUC course work take the student through Rescue Diver, Boatmaster and Divemaster, while NAUI, NASDS and CMAS provide the basis for the instructor training. Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Instructor and the Instructor Specialty courses are based upon ACUC standards. Nitrox instructor certifications are obtained from both TDI and IANTD. Equipment repair technician qualifications likewise fall under several different agencies, providing coverage of many different brands, including Sherwood, U.S. Divers, Dacor, Scubapro and others. Among the other major topics covered in the program are diving accident response, resort and business operation, and sales. After completion of the instructor training during the program, on the job experience is gained through apprenticeship at the dive center.
Deep Tech Instructor: The one week Professional Deep Tech Instructor Training Program is intended to build on the experiences of the ten week program, exposing students to the more technical side of sport diving. Subjects include rebreathers, gas blending, mixed gas theory, advanced wreck diving, stage decompression and extended range diving. This course is where students get their hands on the more technical equipment such as DrŠger Atlantis I rebreathers, diver propulsion vehicles, the DiveComm system and the submersible.
Rebreather Instructor: Learning to use a rebreather is exciting, but being qualified to instruct others is where the money is made. In this one week course, students delve much deeper into rebreather theory and mechanics to prepare themselves as teachers. Academic planning and performance are practiced during classroom, pool and openwater sessions, where the future instructors learn to pass their skills on to their students. Emphasis is placed on being able to correctly evaluate the progress of students, recognizing and solving problems they may be having.
Florida Keys Facilities: Living and diving in the Florida Keys is one of the enjoyable benefits of choosing Hall's for your training. Diving is good year-round in the clear, warm water of the Keys and reefs such as Sombrero and Delta Shoal are only a short boat trip away. Hall's is also close to wrecks such as the Thunderbolt, a 188 foot long cable layer that rests upright in about 90 feet of water.
The institute is on the grounds of the Faro Blanco Marine Resort in Marathon, sharing a 2,200 square foot facility with Hall's dive center. Classrooms, pool, boat and accommodations are all at the resort.
Lady Key Diver, the institute's dive boat, is a custom 40 foot vessel with all the expected amenities. A variety of restaurants and stores are within easy walking distance of the facility.
The Money Questions: Most people considering a career in sport diving have two questions concerning money: how much will it cost to become an instructor and how much will I make afterward? I asked Bob those questions and you may find his answers interesting. First he pointed out that instruction at Hall's is competitively priced and low cost loans can be easily secured to cover tuition and lodging. Several lodging options are available to provide a range of accommodations from economy to deluxe to further control costs. Bob also referred to records showing many Hall's graduates have been placed in jobs paying above average for the industry. He ascribes this to the thoroughness of the Hall's training and the current high demand for instructors.
For more information, call the International Diving Career Institute at Hall's at (800) 331-4255. In Florida or outside the U.S., call (305) 743-5929. Requests can also be faxed to (305) 743-8168 or sent to Bob Brayman's International Diving Career Institute at Hall's, 1994 Overseas Highway, Marathon, Florida 33050.