Why More Divers Choose Pro Dive

By Bill Harrigan

Confidence can be a precious commodity. New pilots about to solo usually wish they had more. Same for first time skydivers. And, of course, there are new dive instructors with their very first students.

Confidence is a hallmark of Pro Dive graduates, a reflection of their ability and competence. In fact, Pro Dive graduates are so consistently confident in their skills it is becoming almost a mystique in the dive industry. This confidence isn’t acquired by accident or casual good luck. It is the focus of everything that makes up the Pro Dive experience. What makes things different at Pro Dive? The answer to that question is in both the past and the present.

First PADI Career
Development Center

More than 20 years ago Greg Mackay realized instructor training should be the sole purpose of a facility, not just a sideline. He dedicated the resources of Pro Dive to instruction and the rest is history. That move allowed Pro Dive to stay on the cutting edge of instructor training; in fact, it defined the cutting edge. The resulting comprehensive approach adopted by Pro Dive features levels of training similar to the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate programs of major educational institutions. The programs offered such comprehensive coverage of dive instruction topics that Pro Dive was eventually the first organization to receive the new PADI Career Development Center designation.

Phase One is like prep school, intended to prepare a certified diver for the Instructor Development Course (IDC). It includes Medic First Aid, Rescue Diver, Divemaster, DAN Emergency Oxygen Provider and Enriched Air Nitrox (EAN).

The ‘undergrad’ program starts with Phase Two. This is where an instructor’s professional foundation is established with the IDC, the Instructor Examination, Medic First Aid Instructor and DAN Oxygen Provider Instructor.

‘Postgraduate’ work starts in Phase Three, which includes instructor courses in ten diver specialties, EAN gas blending and Pro Dive’s unique Resort Operations Specialist course.

The course work is topped off with Phase Four, the program intended for experienced instructors aiming for the upper echelons of the industry. Two subjects are taught in this phase, the IDC Staff Instructor course and Pro Dive’s Course Director Prep course.

ROS Course

ROS, Pro Dive’s Resort Operations Specialist course, is the heart of Pro Dive’s career preparation. Developed and offered exclusively by Pro Dive, this unique course is recognized as the industry standard and is even certified by PADI. ROS is designed to boost new dive instructors a step ahead of their competition in the job market by giving them all of the skills most requested by resorts.

Teaching classes in open water diving is only a small part of the job for dive instructors at resorts and on live-aboards. All the extra skills an instructor needs for these positions are taught in ROS. For instance, there are many jobs involving mechanical skills that must be accomplished every day, including compressor operation and equipment repair. Both of these subjects are taught in ROS and the students get lots of opportunities for hands-on practice.

Another subject high on the list of prospective resort employers is accident management. Many resorts and live-aboards are in remote areas where proper and timely response to accidents is absolutely crucial. The advanced diving accident management classes included in the ROS course are extremely realistic. The practical exercises cover the gamut of possibilities and they are sprung on students without warning. By the time they graduate from ROS, Pro Dive students have learned to react quickly and decisively. In addition to the classroom and practical sessions, the ROS course includes a field trip to a working hyperbaric chamber.

Through the years Pro Dive has become intimately acquainted with the most requested instructor skills for resorts. To prepare its graduates, Pro Dive includes Underwater Photography, Coral Reef Ecology, Drift Diving and Multi-level Computer Diving in ROS.

As with other classes in the course, these are designed to give the students a confident expertise, not just a passing familiarity. In Underwater Photography, for instance, the object is to bring students to a point of proficiency where they really enjoy taking photographs and are proud of the results.

Many instructors applying for jobs at resorts are surprised to discover that applicants with sales experience are highly rated. But the versatility to handle retail sales and travel arrangements is almost a requirement. ROS provides the necessary training in this area, too, with its Sales and Human Relations classes. This portion of the training is particularly useful in preparation for the job market since most instructor candidates have no previous exposure to the subject.

Job Placement

Jobs are the point of all the work invested by newly certified instructors and job placement after ROS is possibly the most important component of the program. The job search process begins with preparation of a professional resume at the start of the program and continues through actual interviews. Most ROS students have interviews during the course and many have jobs waiting when they graduate. Pro Dive’s contact list is massive and its placement record is extraordinary. In fact, job placement has progressed beyond merely finding a job to matching the ROS student with the most appropriate job available. The Pro Dive job placement is like a lifetime warranty for ROS graduates. Whenever future developments call for a new job search, Pro Dive is ready to help.

Location, Staff and Facility

Having the right course work is only half of the Pro Dive equation. Equally important are the staff, the location and the facility itself. Pro Dive alumni often cite the dedicated staff and low student to teacher ratio as reasons why the training is so successful. From the first contact with Jayne Haas in administration to the final job interview arranged by Course Director Dave Lawler, students find Pro Dive’s staff members are highly motivated. They combine extensive on the job experience with the ability to pass on the knowledge they acquired on those jobs. Course Director and licensed captain Bill Cole, for example, not only handles Pro Dive’s custom 60 foot dive boat with deceptively casual skill, he teaches ROS students how to do it, too. John Hudson brings a successful career in retail to the table, giving students the benefit of an insider’s experience. The same applies to Richard Hartley, Adrianna Stillwell, Alain Jan, Mike Maynes, Annelle Carney and Travis Gainsley.

As real estate agents are fond of saying, the three most important attributes of a property are location, location, location. Pro Dive scores high in this regard with a modern facility on the grounds of the luxurious Bahia Mar resort, right between the blue Atlantic and the Intracoastal Waterway. Diving conditions are excellent all year-round, with a variety of reefs and wrecks for training. Economical student housing is available right next door and Ft. Lauderdale’s famous beaches, shops and restaurants are within easy walking distance so a vehicle is not necessary.

The Pro Dive facility includes a large, air-conditioned classroom and a fully stocked retail store. Most of the pool work is done in the deep, spacious pools of Ft. Lauderdale’s Hall of Fame complex. The open water training is conducted on Pro Diver II, a big, stable boat with full amenities.

THE Next Step

Computer technology has changed the way we do almost everything and diving is no exception. Next month, the Pro Dive story continues with an article on how the latest advances in technology are being applied to dive instruction.

For more information, contact Pro Dive in the U.S. at (888) PRO-DIVE. Toll free calls can also be made from the U.K. by dialing (800) 068-9034. From other locations outside the U.S., call (954) 761-8915. E-mail should be addressed to prodive@icanect.net. Additional information is available on the Pro Dive Web site at http://www.pro-dive.com.

THE DAN Tag Now Comes in a Brand New Aquatic Color: The DAN Tag is now even better, with a stronger, high impact acrylic design and a brand new color choice. Currently sold in amber, lime green, hot pink, light gray and electric blue, the tag is now available in aqua/teal.

The tag is produced for Divers Alert Network (DAN) by Palancar Industries of Glendora, California, and serves as an emergency ID tag. The tag attaches easily to a diver’s BC and displays pertinent personal and medical information that could be critical to the proper care of an injured diver. The front of the tag displays the diver’s name, DAN member number and DAN’s 24 Hour Diving Emergency Hotline number, along with the DAN Partners in Dive Safety logo. The other side contains a diver’s vital statistics and DAN membership information in a simple and easy to locate format.

The watertight tag is constructed of negatively buoyant, high impact acrylic. It is available in the United States, Canada, South America and Europe. It will soon be seen in Southeast Asia.

Since March 1996, a portion of the proceeds generated by the sale of each tag is earmarked for donation to the Ocean Futures Foundation, the worldwide environmental organization instituted to help stop deterioration of the ocean environment. A tag can be purchased using either Visa or MasterCard for just $8.95. For more information on ordering a tag, visit your nearest DAN Sponsor dive center or call (919) 684-2948, fax (919) 490-6330. To become a DAN store sponsor, contact coordinator Cindi Courter at (919) 684-2948, ext. 446.