A divemaster is a professional scuba diver who leads other divers. The divemaster is in charge of organizing the other divers and is responsible for the group as a whole. Most people in this field are certified through practical divemaster internships.
Common jobs for divemasters include scuba instruction, leading diving tours, salvage operations, and rescue diving. Salvage operations involve leading groups of scuba divers to recover lost equipment or cargo. Rescue divers typically accompany other groups of divers and assist in case of a problem or after someone is already in trouble.
The two main types of certification for divemasters are PADI and NUAI. While there are some difference between the two in terms of which skills are tested and when those tests are taken, the certifications are roughly equivalent. Both PADI and NAUI are recognized by employers worldwide. Other certifications exist but are not as widely recognized as PADI and NAUI. If you are planning on working in a specific location or for a specific firm, you can find out what certifications that employer accepts before investing time in your internship.
Whichever certification you choose, your next consideration will probably be monetary. Paid and partially-paid divemaster internships are available in many locations. These internships provide extensive real life training as well as some money to offset travel and living expenses. Other divemaster internships are unpaid but may offer other benefits such as more extensive training or experience, free housing or subsidized travel, or a shorter internship period for the same certification. The decision to participate in a paid or unpaid internship should depend on your current financial needs and what you want out of your internship.
Volunteer work is another way to participate in divemaster internships. Volunteers in these programs receive free or reduced cost training and divemaster certification and then spend a specific period of time using their new skills for volunteer work. Many work with environmental researchers. This can be an appealing option if you are interested in conservationism.
Timing is an important factor for you to consider when choosing an internship. If you are a current student, a summer internship may be the most appropriate option. For those with a more flexible schedule, it may be more cost effective to travel in the winter when airfare is cheaper. Seasonal changes are less significant in tropical regions, and divemaster internships take place year round.
There are a variety of reasons for enrolling in divemaster internships. Longer six month internships, especially volunteer internships, can serve as career breaks for professionals. Students may take three or four month internships as an interesting way to spend summer break or to earn a useful certification and start a career as a divemaster.