When you complete the PADI Divemaster course, you become a member of PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors.) The “Professional” part of the acronym means, that it’s something you can do for living. It’s an actual job.  Many scuba divers who have gotten certified through PADI believe that they are members of PADI. This isn’t exactly discouraged for obvious commercial reasons, but it’s factually incorrect. Members of PADI are divemasters, assistant instructors, instructors and upwards in the PADI echelon.

Thus becoming a divemaster can really be considered vocational scuba training. You’ll learn what you need to know to work in recreational scuba diving such as  guiding certified divers and assisting instructors when they teach diving courses. You’ll also learn how to take people who have never scuba dived before out on intro dives and you’ll help divers who’s been out of the water for a while refresh their skills in a safe manner.


During the divemaster course you’ll be introduced to a wide range of various skills you need to earn proficiency in. You’ll learn how to map a dive site, you’ll practise your rescue skills, you’ll lead divers in a controlled environment accompanied by your instructor and you’ll assist on a number of PADI diving courses. You will also need to learn how to demonstrate various scuba skills (such as clearing your mask, donating air etc.) to a professional demonstration level. That means doing it so slowly and exaggerated that by your example you can teach divers what to do.

The idea is that you’ll learn to demonstrate skills to such a good standard during your divemaster course, that you’ll be ready to enroll in a PADI instructor development course should you so choose.

  • 40 logged dives
  • PADI Rescue Diver or equivalent
  • PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent
  • EFR Training or similar first aid certification within past 2 years
  • Signed Medical Clearance (link)

The MCP difference

If you consider doing your divemaster training with us, there’s a number of things we must advise you on. Firstly we are not a dive shop, but a working environmental organisation. This means all of our diving activities are keyed into or influenced by our conservation efforts. In our introduction course, the PADI Open Water, we incorporate a lot more buoyancy work to make sure our volunteers actually have the skills required to do the conservation and surveying work. Most initial diver training, whether it’s PADI or another training organisation aims to make new divers safe, and reasonably proficient – because of the demanding scientific nature of our work, we have to aim quite a bit higher.

This principle very much goes for the divemaster education as well. The dives and logistics you will be in charge of will be fellow conservationists and scientific divers in training, not typical dive tourists. Our operation runs a lot more flexible than that of a typical dive center – we generally do not the have tight schedules to follow typical to recreational diving (but usually hidden to the dive customer) and it is important to take the time to do things right for our scientific purposes.

This means that in some ways a divemaster internship with us is going to be very different to that of a dive shop. There are of course certain things that you will need to do during the PADI divemaster course, to follow the standards of the program – but most of the training, dives and work will be at a somewhat advanced or  different stage, that that of a typical dive center. This will give you hands on experience with conservation work and you’ll learn a lot of marine science.

What you will NOT do, is dealing with regular walk-in-customers, or taking tourists on guided dives. The diving we undertake is different, and it’s something that’s important for us to stress to you, as you’d be disappointed if you expect the DM training to reflect the reality of most typical dive centers. It’s important for us to clarify, and it’s an important distinction to keep in mind if you plan on working in recreational diving in a casual diveshop after your divemaster program, because you’ll probably be used to standards being a little more “hardcore,” and to diver skills generally being higher, if you’ve done your training with us.

How long does it take to become a PADI Divemaster?

Because of the check-list format of the divemaster course (once you’ve done something sufficiently well, you can tick it off – same as with any PADI course) It’s possible to complete the course in as little as two to three weeks. While this may technically be possible while still adhering to PADI standards, we feel the rather grandiose title of divemaster would be somewhat misplaced. While you can certainly improve tremendously as a diver, and you can learn to perform skills to demonstration standard in two weeks, you’ll not develop any real mastery of diving. In order to become a proficient divemaster, you have to be experienced with many different kinds of conditions, deep dives, night dives, drift diving, various boats and beach entries, different kinds of equipment setup, various equipment failures, diver psychology and much much more. In our opinion anything shorter than a month or two (at the bare minimum) doesn’t make any sense. That’s just being honest. Some people do the course just to gain experience, to dive lots and improve their personal dive skills, without ever contemplating actually working professionally with scuba diving. We won’t mind teaching you in this case – those ambitions are just as valid as any other, but we won’t teach short courses. We will teach you to the level, we would want to be proud of if you did want to go somewhere and work.

Unlike many commercial PADI shops who do short divemaster courses, we ask volunteers to stay two months. (You are of course very welcome to stay longer, and we’d dearly like your help with our conservation efforts with the experience you’ll have as a DM) This length of time is long enough that prospective divemaster get enough experience and training while with us, but also gives you a little safety buffer in case you suffer an ear infection or some other trivial thing prevents you from diving for a week.

To get involved in the scientific diving after doing your divemaster training, you will need four weeks at this point in time.  That’s enough time to learn one of our survey methodologies, and to also put what you’ve learned into meaningful work in marine conservation.  Generally, this means that for an eight week divemaster course, you will have the last two weeks to help our instructors teach additional courses and work on your weak spots.  Contrast this to a ten week stay, where if all goes well, from the sixth week you will start taking part in the science and then putting it into work for the last two weeks approximately.


Below you’ll find the required minimum stays. If you have 3 or 4 months, all the better!

If non diver or very green: 4 weeks for initial training (Open waterAdvancedRescueEFR) and building experience of doing at least 40 dives, then followed by 8 weeks  for the actual divemaster course.

If all prerequisites are ok: 8 Weeks


MCP does offer instructor internships. These vary a lot in the exact make-up and duration, but a fairly common option is to progress from the divemaster training straight into the instructor course, after which you can intern as an instructor.You may want to take a look at webpage specifically about doing the IDC in the Philippines

Others arrive already being divemasters, and just need to do the instructor course. Do however please keep in mind that we’re a working environmental organisation. We have a genuine wish that you excel as an instructor, and that you get a chance to learn in the particular environment of an environmental organisation. As such our instructor internship spots are limited to one or two at time. We are however very happy to sort you with a placement at a nearby dive facility. 

Absolutely. But not with MCP. There’s two reasons why this is so. On one hand we actually want to be able to be proud of our candidates. Once you get a divemaster certification you have a professional license to work in the field as a professional diver in charge of the safety of others. That’s not something to take too light hearted, honestly. Many recreational dive shops teach the course in as little as fourteen days. Basically, to these shops, each trainee through the doors is money on the bottom line, so if you are not going to work with them, the faster you get in and out the door the better. We have completely different ambitions. The other reason we insist on taking two month is so that you also may get time to experience working in conservation. This is good for you, but it also justifies all the additional effort our instructors will put into your training.

The shortest possible duration to do the PADI divemaster course with MCP is eight weeks. This require that the candidate is already certified as a rescue diver and have 40+ dives logged. For eight week programs, candidates will complete the core training of the DM course, and if all goes according to plan, there is a bit of additional time, approximately two weeks, in which you will help MCP dive instructors teach PADI courses. That’d also serve as a small “safety buffer”, if you were to get an ear infection or something that would prevent you from diving for a bit. This means, that in a barebones eight weeks program you will be more involved in teaching scuba, rather than very involved in actual science efforts. The expected extra two weeks just isn’t enough time to get you ready to help meaningfully as a scientific diver.

For divemaster candidates who stay ten weeks or longer (from the point in time where they start the DM training), there’s enough time to meaningfully be involved in marine science. As such, unless you let us know your preference is to focus solely on scuba training (if you want to become a scuba instructor for example) you will head on into scientific monitoring training, after you complete your divemaster course. This gives you enough time to learn scientific diving with us and get to grips with the actual conservation work underwater.

Because of the scientific nature of our work, we neither want nor expect our divemaster candidates to do any marketing or recruiting of divers. As a divemaster candidate you will not be walking beaches to hand out brochures, or sit outside trying to persuade passers by to try diving. The typical ways divemaster candidates repay free internships do simply not apply to us. We are not a recreational dive shop, and are in absolutely no competition against any such establishments. Doing divemaster training with us is very, very dissimilar.

Our organisation mostly attract volunteers who are already divers; many of whom are very capable and experienced. The kind of diving we do is almost exclusively work or mission-oriented. “Guides” just aren’t needed, nor do our divers need anyone to help them with gear or other mundane tasks. Volunteers are fully expected to wash their own scuba gear, carry their tanks and plan their dives. All the work that you could possibly do to repay for training in a diveshop that offers “free internship” is either not needed, or someone is already doing it at part of their own duties. So basically, no, we do not offer free internships.

Please be aware the reason some dive shops offer free internships isn’t altruism. Trainees repay their training with their work. This can be a fair deal if you pay back by guiding divers or doing boat briefings and you want to work in the recreational scuba industry as a divemaster. In such a case all your efforts becomes part of the learning process – And although you are actually working for free, it’s all part of the learning process. Regrettably, often, it’s disguised exploitation if the work you will repay with is by sweeping floors and recruiting divers, cleaning bungalows, doing bar tending in a resort or other mundane tasks that’s not helping you become a professional diver. There are many thinly disguised “free internships” out there that are just cheap labour.

Often the biggest expense when doing prolonged professional diver training abroad isn’t the actual training itself, but rather the basic cost of living while doing it – meals and accommodation really start adding up over several months. Due to our remote location, at Marine Conservation Philippines all of this is necessarily included as part of the volunteer package. Additionally, to make fair comparisons it’s a good idea to look at the hidden fees – often cost of scuba gear rental, marine parks fees etc. are not included in quoted prices. Everything considered, in our experience doing divemaster training with Marine Conservation Philippines is generally similarly priced or cheaper that doing a similar length program elsewhere. The experience is very dissimilar however, but only you can determine if that is a good or bad thing for you.

How long you want to stay and spend on doing your DM-training depends on yourself and how much you’d want to get out of your training – Taking longer will make you better of course.Besides the cost of your manuals and materials, the cost of doing the divemaster training is the same as regular volunteers pay, so 500 USD weekly multiplied by number of weeks, which covers three daily meals, accommodation, all diving, gear rental, transportation, marine park fees, free tea and coffee, airport pickup etc.

Financially an eight week divemaster program could look something like this:

8 weeks accommodation, food, diving, gear rental, tuition: 8 x 500 USD = 4000 USD
Divemaster crewpack (manual and materials) 240 USD
PADI application fee (Paid directly to PADI, not MCP) 120 USD

A typical twelve week divemaster program for a candidate with no prior scuba dive experience could look like this:

12 weeks accommodation, food, diving, gear rental, tuition: 12 x 500 USD = 6000 USD
Open Water Course 85 USD
Advanced Open Water Course 85 USD
Rescue Diver Course 85 USD
EFR – first aid course 65 USD
Divemaster crewpack (manual and materials) 240 USD
PADI application fee (Paid directly to PADI, not MCP) 120 USD

Many divemaster candidates additionally do the enriched air nitrox specialty (85 USD) and/or the self-reliant diver course. (50 USD).

Divemaster candidates who stay on longer become very valuable team members for us, and hence you start getting discounted rates. For 13th-16th week, cost is 400 USD weekly and you can do the PADI tec40 for free. For 17th-20th week, cost is 300 USD weekly, and you can do the PADI tec45 for free. For 21st to 24th week, cost is 200 USD weekly, and you can do tec50 for free. If you do not want to do any technical training, and you stay for 24 weeks, you can instead have the last four weeks completely free.

Staying with us, and by helping doing the work we do, you will have opportunities to learn a lot of ecology and marine biology that’s falls way outside the normal scope of divemaster training. You’ll also take part in any number of activities, ranging from communicative assignments such as teaching to practical conservation work such as planting mangroves, doing underwater construction work, mapping submerged areas or any number of other skills, that you won’t learn anywhere else. The extent and what exactly these things are changes from time to time, depending on what our ongoing project needs are. We frequently receive request from partners with short notification, so we are unable to say with any certainty what a divemaster could be involved with several weeks or months into the future. What is important to understand is that we’re a working environmental organisation, and when you are not on dedicated divemaster training, you will be part of our teams. Do please read the FAQ section above about the difference between short and long divemaster programs too. .

Strictly diving related, you’ll learn to be a very capable diver with excellent buoyancy and trim, ready for advanced scientific work and technical diving. We dive exclusively in technical backplate/wing setups, and while with us you can learn how to do advanced dive planning, service scuba equipment, dive with stage tanks, get involved with technical diving and much more. All of this requires time, but by the time you finish your training you will have technical diver skills and be able to do helicopter turns, back kicks and be comfortable with different finning techniques. You’ll also be able to complete difficult tasks while maintaining perfect buoyancy control and trim, and your underwater problem solving skills will be second to none. To be very precise – we are happy to teach you far beyond the minimum you need to merely pass, and we are sure we teach to a higher dive skill standard that any recreational diveshop you can find. This too explains why our courses are as long as they are.

Divemaster candidates who stay longer than twelve weeks are able to enroll in technical diving training. (and weeks get progressively cheaper the longer you stay too) Divemaster candidates who stay 16 weeks can do the PADI TEC40, candidates who stay 20 weeks, can do the TEC45, and people who stay 24 weeks can do the TEC50 course. Technical diving training is offered for free for divemaster who stay on for that long.

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