New 2010 PADI Divemaster Course, DM Online eLearning Launches

Changes Include 50% More In-Water Training, Launch of PADI Divemaster Online

Click to EnlargeMarking the first revision of its most popular professional diving course in a decade, PADI this week launched the revamped PADI Divemaster Course at the DEMA Show in Las Vegas.

With 50 percent more in-water training and the introduction of the PADI Divemaster Online Course, the new 2010 Divemaster course maintains the integrity of the existing curricula, while modernizing and improving them overall. The goal was to produce dive leaders who are trained in diver safety techniques and who can lead others with confidence and experience.

Reflecting the goal of producing more skilled and experienced leader, the course revisions include:

  • An increased diving experience prerequisite.
  • More in-water and workshop time with the instructor, learning the practical aspects of divemastering supervision, leadership and role-model skills.
  • Practical experience in all programs/experiences divemasters are authorized to conduct once certified.

In addition, the dive theory knowledge requirements were revised for more-effective learning. Until now, divemaster candidates have had to master instructor-level dive theory in a single step. The revised course creates a better bridge between Rescue Diver and Open Water Scuba Instructor.

Specific Course Revisions

Because student materials for the new PADI Divemaster Course announced this week are only available in North America, it will be some weeks before Aquanauts will begin offering the course. But as soon as the new manuals and exams arrive in Thailand, the course will be available here.

Once it is, students can expect the following changes to the existing DM course:


Knowledge Development

Click to EnlargeThe heart of the PADI Divemaster program’s knowledge development goes digital in the revised 2010 course. PADI Divemaster Online launched Nov. 16 and can be utilized by students instead of purchasing a PADI Divemaster Manual and watching the PADI Divemaster DVD.

The PADI Divemaster Online Course includes eight topics — chapters 2-9 from the Divemaster Manual – and like other PADI eLearning programs includes Knowledge Reviews online. As per the norm, students have lifetime access to the PADI Divemaster Manual online.

A special Dive Theory Review is also available online. This separate PADI eLearning module is focused on practical training and offers a review of the theory from prerequisite courses including physics, physiology, and more. Separating this module from the main course is beneficial for Divemaster candidates who do not plan to continue on to instructor.

The PADI Divemaster Online Course and Dive Theory Online can be started by anyone – not only Aquanauts students – on this page. Of course, Divemaster candidates don’t have to go online to complete their course, They can still attend live presentations.

The new 2010 Knowledge Development units consist of:

  • Supervising Diving Activities
  • Assisting with Student Divers
  • Diver Safety and Risk Management
  • Divemaster-Conducted Programs
  • Specialized Skills and Activities
  • Business of Diving and Your Diving Career
  • Awareness of the Dive Environment

Regardless of whether or not eLearning is utilized, all Divemaster candidates must attend a live presentation on “The Role and Characteristics of a PADI Divemaster.”


The new Divemaster Final Exam is now written in more familiar terms to better assess comprehension of all the knowledge development topics, including dive theory. In a change from PADI’s usual eLearning method, however, those in the PADI Divemaster Online course cannot take the final exam online. To reduce opportunities for cheating, the exam must be taken in person in the presence of an instructor.

DM candidates who take advantage of the Dive Theory Online can “test out” of the divemaster dive theory exams. Because Dive Theory Online develops instructor-level knowledge competency, it exceeds the PADI Divemaster Course requirements.

In-Water Training Changes

Click to EnlargeWith its enhanced focus on developing practical skills, in-water training takes an even more-prominent role in the new 2010 PADI Divemaster Course. The training is broken down into two modules, a Dive Skills Workshop and Practical Application Skills.

The workshops and assessments give candidates the training and experience they need in confined or open water to carry out jobs as divemasters. The biggest change here is that PADI eliminated its internship and role-play training options. Now candidates take turns leading, demonstrating and conducting, while other candidates act as participants.

The elimination of PADI’s “internship” option should not be confused with the Aquanauts internship program, which is a packaging of courses, accommodations and equipment. In Aquanauts Divemaster and PADI Instructor programs, no role-playing is needed as all interns work with real customers on a daily basis.

Dive Skills Workshop

In this workshop, you model how to perform a skill in a way that divers can easily emulate. Candidates must earn a score of 5 on at least one underwater skill when performing their demonstrations. Skin diving skills have been added to this workshop, to assure that divemaster candidates can effectively role-model these skills for the skin divers they train and snorkelers they supervise.

In addition to the demonstration, the revised Divemaster Video (which is part of PADI Divemaster Course Online) illustrates these skills for candidates as well. Emphasis should be on meeting the skill objectives in a role-model demonstration rather than on one specific technique.

Practical Application Skills

Here Divemaster candidates gain experience with general skills they will need in their divemaster careers. Skills include:

  • Dive Site Set up and Management — Learn how to manage the dive site, work with emergency equipment, set floats, flags and descent lines, manage diver accounting procedures, and practice the social and customer service aspects of working with students and customers.
  • Dive Briefing — Practice giving a dive briefing for a familiar dive site covering the 10 points of an effective briefing as noted on your Divemaster Slates.
  • Search & Recovery Scenario — Practice searching for and lifting lost items to the surface. Again, those who have completed the PADI Search & Recovery Diver Specialty can be excused from this skill test by their instructor.
  • Deep Dive Scenario — Practice the safety-related skills relevant to diving below 18 meters (60 feet). Again, those who have completed the PADI Deep Diver can be excused by their instructor from this test.
  • Mapping Project – Unchanged from previous course.

Divemaster-Conducted Programs Workshops

In these additional workshops, Divemaster candidates work with real customers (under an instructor’s guidance) or play the role of a certified DM to conduct a Scuba Review, Skin Diver / Snorkeling program and a “Discover Local Diving” experience.

Practical Assessments

Finally, in the water, Divemaster candidates are graded by their instructors on how well they perform the core duties of any good DM. Students are evaluated on skills such as the ability to organize a dive, assess a site, coordinate and supervise divers, recognize and overcome difficulties. These are done both in the swimming pool and in the sea.

Overhauled Materials

Of course, with the new 2010 PADI Divemaster Course come all new materials. Here’s what’s changed and what the changes include:

  • Divemaster Manual –Increased from 200 to 300 pages, the new DM manual places increased emphasis on the divemaster’s responsibility to role-model care for the environment. In addition, each chapter includes a case study based on real scenarios, which illustrates the value of sound judgment and other leadership skills.
  • Divemaster Video / DVD – Revised with all new footage, including a Demonstration Quality Skills feature that shows role-model demonstrations of scuba and skin diving skills.
  • Divemaster Slates – Revised slightly to match course content.
  • Divemaster Final Exam – Includes a new exam booklet, answer sheet and answer key for instructors.

Again, the course will be available at Aquanauts as soon as materials are available in Thailand. Those who enroll now in Aquanauts Divemaster or Instructor internships will be upgraded to the new course free.

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