Pro-level Training with Master Divers – Guest Post by Katie Woodroffe

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Pro-level Training with Master Divers – Guest Post by Katie Woodroffe


Katie was the winner of our 2018 Master Divers Life competition. Along with a full set of brand new Aqualung diving equipment, she won professional dive training with Master Divers all the way up to Instructor level. We have reached out to Katie and asked her, how her life (and diving career) has changed since 2018.


More than just Pro-Level preparation

It has been almost a year since I qualified as an Open Water Scuba Instructor with Master Divers and have since reached Master Scuba Diver Trainer status and gained almost 150 certifications which means I am well on the way to becoming a 2019 PADI Elite Instructor. The learning and career progression has not stopped.

I still remember the day of my IDC, when dive buddy Tom and I passed the Instructor Exams, like it was yesterday. We were nervous on the day, but both knew that we had months of excellent education and support behind us and that we would both ace the IE as long as we stayed focused.

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IE-completion-koh-tao

Master Divers pride themselves on their extremely high standards and small groups. This is apparent from entry level courses like the Open Water Diver course, right through to Pro level courses. Not only are their instructors and mentors experienced and classes no larger than 4 students, but they really help you understand the importance of continued education, ensuring correct paperwork and legal requirements are met for you as an instructor as well as your responsibilities to your students, the business of Scuba diving and how to market yourself. This has been an important part of the whole professional level of diving.

The Start Of Something New

Taking on our Course Director Gaz Lyden’s advice during our Instructor Development Course (IDC), eight months ago I began building up a website which has allowed me to use this digital medium to not only acquire new divers and retain old students, but also to educate and inspire. Blogging has been something that I did on a regular basis whilst training and working with Master Divers and I have used the many things I have learnt, from a business perspective, to develop my own channel. My focus is mainly on engaging people in citizen science and marine conservation projects, but I also write blogs about diving, as well as equipment and dive site reviews which you can all find on my new website!

The Passion Remains

As some of you may remember, I was the lucky winner of the Master Divers Life competition in 2018. I truly believe that it was my passion that I demonstrated throughout the rounds of the competition that resulted in my win, not only my passion for diving, but for marine conservation also. Teaching students to dive has been an incredible avenue to demonstrate my passion. Working as a Scuba Diving instructor can often be quite challenging, including a lot of long hours of hard work, one on one mentor ship and huge amounts of patience. My passion is my fuel.

Safety As First

Risk management is an extremely important part of an instructor’s job. One which must come before all else. Keeping students safe requires a lot of awareness, focus and pre-empting of potentially hazardous situations. Thankfully, I learnt off some of the best and most safety conscious instructors at Master Divers and I ensure that I demonstrate this in the teaching I do now, and thus ensuring that my students leave me as a safe and competent diver who do not push their own limits.

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People Skills

By becoming an Instructor, I have learnt that people skills are almost just as important as diving skills. Every student is an individual and therefore their learning speed, difficulties and successes will all be different. Managing a small group of divers that have never used Scuba equipment before can be challenging, in particular those first few breaths underwater, when new divers are likely to panic. When I deliver PADI Discover Scuba Dives now, I always make sure that I include in the briefing that it is likely those first few breaths will feel extremely strange, and you may want to lift your head out of the water. After all, we are not fish, so it is quite normal for our brains to feel slightly confused at the sensation. One on one time with students is so important; avoiding rushing and taking a relaxed attitude, allowing questions to be asked and cracking a few jokes generally puts people at ease!

Branching Out

After I qualified as an Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI) and whilst gaining experience teaching, I also worked towards becoming a Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT). This has enabled me to experience teaching some of the more advanced level speciality courses. I managed to complete this before I left Thailand but unfortunately, I have not yet been able to teach any of these over in England – my time will come I’m sure!

However, I have furthered my qualifications by becoming certified as a Servicing Technician and often spend many hours servicing, inspecting and maintaining our dive equipment. Scuba diving is an equipment intensive sport and expanding my understanding of each piece’s function and technical workings has been extremely interesting. I can’t say I have ever been one who is interested in equipment maintenance but I’m actually surprised in the amount of interest I have shown in it recently! 

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The Journey

Everything that I learned whilst training at Master Divers has inevitably gotten me to where I am now. For the past 6 months I have been working as an aquarium diver in England. Yes, very different to the big wide ocean that surrounded Koh Tao!  At the aquarium, I can deliver up to 24 PADI Discover Scuba Dives on a busy weekend day. This requires total focus on each student (up to 6 per group) and close communication and working ethic with the Divemaster or Instructor assisting with the experience. I am at the point now where I can pretty much smell a panicked diver even before they show signs! It is a fast-paced role, but the opportunity to introduce people to the underwater world is like no other. So many leave the experience mind blown, full of questions about the PADI Open Water Course and how they can learn to dive.

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Not only that, we deliver a strong environmental message to encourage behavioural change. Taking people into the aquarium and showing them the amazing diversity of creatures that can be seen, sparks a passion from a first had experience that rivals no other. Training with Master Divers prepared me to transform lives and change minds and behaviours using the medium of Scuba diving.

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