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PADI Divemaster Course Info

The PADI Divemaster rating is the first professional rating in the PADI system. Working closely with a PADI Instructor, in Divemaster program you expand your dive knowledge and hone your skills to the professional level. PADI Divemaster training develops your leadership abilities, qualifying you to supervise dive activities and assist instructors with student divers.


During the PADI Divemaster program, you learn dive leadership skills through both classroom and independent study. You complete water skills and stamina exercises, as well as training exercises that stretch your ability to organize and solve problems. You put this knowledge into action through series of practical training exercises.


Who is a PADI Divemaster?


The dive community expects several characteristics of an individual with the PADI Divemaster rating.


These include:


  • Exemplary diving skills. The PADI Divemaster’s skills can be used as demonstrations for student divers.


  • Rescue skills. The PADI Divemaster can prevent and manage accidents, and demonstrate role model rescue skills for student divers


  • Professional-level knowledge of dive theory. Depth of theoretical knowledge goes hand-in-hand with expertise and professionalism. This is the foundation for problem solving and creativity in the divemaster’s duties, and for subsequent growth as a PADI Assistant Instructor.


  • Competence as a certified assistant. PADI Divemasters know how to support instruction by handling logistical, supervisory and limited educational duties under an instructor’s supervision.


  • Dive management and supervision abilities. PADI Divemasters accept appropriate, limited responsibility for certified divers within the context of leading or managing diving activities. This requires good people skills and good judgment along with a strong working knowledge of dive environments and activities. The PADI Divemaster assists the dive operation with risk management.


  • Ethical role model behavior. PADI Divemasters are expected to display common honesty and courtesy, and follow accepted, responsible dive practices. Their behavior reflects well on them, the dive operation for which they work, and the PADI organization.


  • Enthusiasm and fun. People learn to dive for the excitement, adventure, and challenge – or broadly, for fun. They look to PADI Divemasters to assist them in having fun within their interests and skill levels. Divers expect PADI Divemasters to be pleasant and sociable individuals to interact with. The PADI Divemaster assists with the dive community’s diver retention efforts.

Course Goals


To develop the previous characteristics in an individual, the PADI Divemaster course has five broad goals:


  1. To develop the knowledge, attitudes, judgment and skills for supervising certified divers in shore-based and boat-based diving activities.

  2. To develop the knowledge, attitudes, judgment and skills for assisting with training divers in PADI courses.

  3. To develop the knowledge, attitudes, judgment and skills for independently conducting specific PADI programs for certified divers and nondivers (e.g., Scuba Review, Discover Snorkeling, PADI Skin Diver course).

  4. To develop the candidate’s dive theory knowledge, waterskills, rescue skills and experience to the levels necessary to enter the PADI Assistant Instructor course and the PADI Instructor Development Course.

  5. To promote each candidate’s growth to meet individual needs and interests, and to meet the dive community’s needs and expectations in dive leaders (e.g., risk management, personal health and safety, the needs of the dive retailer).


What PADI Divemaster can do:


As a certified PADI Divemaster you can


  • Assist PADI Instructors with students

  • Conduct PADI Scuba Review programs for certified divers

  • Lead certified divers on Discover Local Diving experiences

  • Lead PADI Scuba Divers on guided dive tours

  • Teach and certify PADI Skin Divers

  • Teach PADI Discover Snorkeling programs

  • Work at local dive centers, on live-aboard dive boats, yachts and at exotic resort locations



  • Be at least 18 years old

  • Be certified as a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or have a qualifying certification from another organization

  • Be certified as a PADI Rescue Diver or have a qualifying certification from another organization

  • Have current (within 24 months) CPR and First Aid training

  • Have completed and logged at least 40 dives. For certification minimum of 60 dives are required.

  • Have current (within 12 months) medical clearance for diving signed by a physician




Required Materials


The candidates are required to have the following materials. As Divemaster program is a professional level course, students may already have some or most of the required materials. Thus, course materials are not included in the course price. Divemaster candidates purchasing the materials from Pro-Diver Development for the course enjoy discounts from the Recommended Retail Prices.


  • PADI Divemaster Manual 

  • Divemaster Slates

  • PADI Instructor Manual

  • The Encyclopedia of Recreational Diving

  • RDP – eRDPML

The above included in Basic DM Pak (code 60150). You'll also need the following:


  • RDP –Table





The course consists of academic topics, stamina and skills exercises in the swimming pool, workshops both in the swimming pool and open water and practical applications also both in the swimming pool and open water.


Academic Topics


Most of the academics are done by self-study. Candidates are required to read the Divemaster Manual and complete appropriate Knowledge Reviews at the end of each chapter prior to the classroom session. The classroom sessions are more discussion on the topics rather than lectures. Thus, the number of sessions and the time they take vary.


The topics include:


  • The Role & Characteristics of the PADI Divemaster

  • Supervising General Diving Activities for Certified Divers

  • Assisting with Student Divers in Training

  • Diver Safety & Risk Management

  • Divemaster Conducted Programs

  • Specialized Skills and Activities

  • The Business of Diving and Your Diving Career

  • Awareness of the Dive Environment


In addition, the candidates are required to independently study dive theory topics including dive physics, physiology, RDP use - both table and the electronic Multilevel Recreational Dive Planner (eRDPML). diving equipment, general diving skills and environment from The Encyclopedia of Recreational Diving.


PADI offers a stand-alone eLearning Dive Theory program on-line that you might want to utilize while studying. The program is accessible at and costs USD262 (payable by credit card directly to PADI). The on-line Dive Theory has gotten good reviews from those who have done it, but is entirely optional.


There are two separate exams covering topics from the Divemaster Manual and independent study. There are 60 questions per exam. The passing rate is 75% (ie. 45/60) for each exam.


Emergency Assistance Plan


Each Divemaster candidate must complete an Emergency Assistance Plan individually for a dive site. If you did this for a Hong Kong dive site during your Rescue Course, you may be able to use the same one to meet the requirement.


Waterskills Development  


Waterskills development consists of stamina exercises, skills development and practical training exercises, and takes place mostly in the swimming pool. You’ll develop the basic diving skills from your Open Water course up to demonstration quality (i.e. for Divemaster it is not enough just to be able to do the skills, you’ll need to be able to adequately demonstrate them), and learn how to assist in Open Water course. Please see the following pages for training exercises and performance requirements.


Waterskills Exercises


There is no passing score for any single exercise, but a combined score of 15 or more is required prior to certification. Candidates must complete all exercises prior to certification.


Exercise 1: 400 Meter Swim

The candidate must swim 400 meters without stopping using no swimming aids and using any stroke or combination of strokes desired. If a candidate stops, the exercise is incomplete and must be repeated.


Points          Time

   5             under 6 min, 30 sec

   4             6 min, 30 sec to 8 min, 40 sec

   3             8 min, 40 sec to 11 min

   2             11 to 13 min

   1             more than 13 min

Incomplete  stopped

Exercise 2: 15 Minute Tread (or Float)

Using no aids and wearing only a swimsuit, the candidate will stay afloat by treading water, drown proofing, bobbing or floating for 15 minutes, with hands (not arms) out of the water during the last 2 minutes. A candidate with a physical challenge that makes it difficult/impossible to hold hands out of the water is exempted from that portion of the exercise with no effect on the score.


Points         Criteria

   5             Performed satisfactorily

   3             Stayed afloat, but hands not out of water entire 2 minutes

   1             Used side/bottom for momentary support no more than twice

Incomplete  Used side/bottom for support more than twice


Exercise 3: 800 Meter Snorkel Swim

Using a mask, fins, snorkel and swimsuit only (no BCD or flotation aids) and swimming with the face in the water, the candidate must swim nonstop for 800 meters. The candidate may not use arms to swim, unless the candidate has a physical challenge that limits leg use and arm-swimming is the individual’s normal swimming method while diving. If a candidate stops, the exercise is incomplete and must be repeated.


Points        Time

   5             under 14 min

   4             14 to 16 min, 30 sec

   3             16 min, 30 sec to 18 min, 30 sec

   2             18 min, 30 sec to 21 min

   1             more than 21 min

Incomplete  stopped


Exercise 4: 100 Meters Inert Diver Tow

Wearing full scuba equipment, the candidate must push or tow an inert diver in full scuba at the surface 100 meters nonstop without assistance. Note that this is a swimming power evaluation (speed-against-drag) not a rescue evaluation. If a candidate stops, the exercise is incomplete and must be repeated.


Points        Time

   5             under 2 min, 10 sec

   4             2 min, 10 sec to 3 min, 15 sec

   3             3 min, 15 sec to 4 min, 20 sec

   2             4 min, 20 sec to 5 min, 30 sec

   1             more than 5 min, 30 sec

Incomplete  stopped

Exercise 5: Equipment Exchange

Candidates must demonstrate the ability to solve unanticipated problems underwater by exchanging all scuba equipment (except exposure suits and weights) with a buddy while sharing one regulator (buddy breathing). Candidates must earn a score of 3 or higher as described in the evaluation criteria.









Task performed in a well-thought-out, efficient and purposeful manner with no sign of problems. Very low anxiety level. Looks routine and fun.

Task performed competently with a relatively low anxiety level. Problems encountered were easily and efficiently handled.

Complete exchange occurred without surfacing. However, numerous problems were encountered that delayed the speed and efficiency of the performance. The grade is also appropriate for a buddy who was overly dependent on the other, and who, in essence, had everything done for him.

Significant problems demonstrated, and exchange completed only after one or both team members surfaced


Inability to complete the exchange, or exchange completed but required one or both members to surface more than once.

Confined Waterskill Assessment and Development


The Confined Waterskill Assessment and Development has two purposes: to verify that the candidate can perform the 24 basic dive skills from the PADI Skill Evaluation, and to train the candidate to perform these skills to demonstration quality. You’ll have plenty of time to practice these skills.


Skill Evaluation

The candidate must demonstrate 24 basic dive skills, with all skills earning a 3 or higher, and the total score for all 24 skills at least 82 points. The candidate must earn a score 5 for at least one of the skills. You don’t have to earn the required scores in your first attempt.


Skill Evaluation Scores

Score         Characteristics

   1             Candidate unable to perform exercise.

   2             Exercise performed with significant difficulty or error.

   3             Exercise performed correctly, though too quickly to adequately exhibit or illustrate details of the skill

   4             Exercise performed correctly and slowly enough to adequately exhibit or illustrate details of the skill.

   5             Exercise performed correctly, slowly and with exaggerated movement – appeared easy.



24 Dive Skills for Skill Evaluation
  1. Equipment assembly, adjustment, preparation, donning and disassembly

  2. Predive safety check (BWRAF)

  3. Deep water entry

  4. Buoyancy check at surface

  5. Snorkel-regulator/regulator snorkel exchange

  6. Five point descent

  7. Regulator recovery and clearing

  8. Mask removal, replacement and clearing

  9. Air depletion exercise and alternate air source use stationary

  10. Alternate air source – assisted ascent

  11. Free-flowing regulator breathing

  12. Fin pivot (neutral buoyancy)

  13. Five point ascent

  14. Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent (CESA)

  15. Hovering motionless for 30 seconds

  16. Underwater swim without a mask

  17. Remove and replace weight system underwater

  18. Remove and replace scuba unit underwater

  19. Remove and replace scuba unit on the surface

  20. Remove and replace weight system on the surface

  21. Vertical, head first skin dive

  22. Swim at least 15 metres/50 feet underwater on a single breath while skin diving

  23. Snorkel clear using the blast method after ascending from a skin dive

  24. Snorkel clear using the displacement method after ascending from a skin dive


Diver Rescue Assessment and Development

This exercise is the simulated rescue of an unresponsive, non-breathing diver. It applies a pass-fail evaluation criteria.


  1. The “victim” is in full scuba equipment and submerged around 25 meters from the “rescuer” (DM candidate). The rescuer starts from the pool deck, shore or boat as appropriate.

  2. The rescuer enters the water, locates and surfaces the victim, properly checks for and initiates breathing, tows the victim while removing own and victim’s weights, mask and scuba unit, and removes the victim from the water.

For logistical reasons, this exercise may be conducted either in open water or pool setting.




Practical Applications and Workshops


The Practical Applications and Workshops are intended to develop Divemaster candidates’ diving skills in specialized situations and to train the candidates for the programs Divemasters can run after certification.


Skill 1 – Dive Site Set-up and Management

Divemaster candidates are required to set up a dive site and manage pre-dive preparation, including:


  • Choosing a location appropriate for divers to assemble equipment.

  • Preparing emergency equipment, such as a first aid kit and oxygen unit.

  • Greeting divers as they arrive at the site/boat and providing direction. For example – where to place equipment, location of nearest facilities, etc.

  • Organizing a dive roster and reviewing check in and check out procedures with divers.

  • Preparing and setting a float/dive flag if diving from shore, or ensuring the descent line and dive flag are ready, as appropriate, when diving from a boat.

  • Choosing an appropriate vantage point from which to monitor the dive.

  • Being accessible to answer diver questions and prepared to assist divers both before and after the dive.


Skill 2 – Mapping Project

Candidates must:

  1. Survey with a buddy, a dive site or portion of a dive site assigned by the instructor, including underwater and surface features, with sufficient detail and accuracy for creating a map of the site.

  2. Create a map of the dive site, showing (as applicable to the site) underwater relief, important points of interest, recommended entry/exit areas, local facilities, and potential hazards.


Skill 3 — Dive Briefing

Divemaster candidates will conduct a dive briefing for a familiar dive site covering all 10 points as listed below and on the Divemaster Slates.


  1. Dive site name

  2. Site description

  3. Your role and how divers can recognize you underwater, if appropriate.

  4. Entry and exit techniques

  5. Dive procedures

  6. Emergency procedures

  7. Signal review specific to the dive

  8. Roster and buddy check

  9. Environmental orientation

  10. Predive safety check



Skill 4 — Search and Recovery Scenario

Divemasters can assist in PADI Specialty courses and supervise activities from various PADI Specialty courses. While completing PADI Specialty courses is recommended it is not compulsory. The Search&Recovery Scenario covers the core content of the PADI Search&Recovery Specialty course.


Divemaster candidates are required to


  • Demonstrate a methodical search of an area to find a small submerged object.

  • Demonstrate a methodical search of an area to find a submerged object not more than 10 kilograms/25 pounds negatively buoyant.

  • Tie the following knots correctly underwater: the bowline, two half-hitches and a sheet bend.

  • Demonstrate how to safely rig and bring to the surface an object not more than 10 kilograms/25 pounds negatively buoyant using an appropriate lifting device.



Skill 5 — Deep Dive Scenario

Divemaster candidates are required to complete a Deep Dive including the following:


  • Before the dive, prepare emergency breathing equipment, and position it at the safety stop depth.

  • Descend using a reference line, wall or sloping bottom as a visual guide only, while staying with a buddy and controlling the descent rate.

  • Navigate with a compass at least 20 kick cycles away from and back to the reference line or designated spot.

  • Use a depth gauge and timing device, or a dive computer to monitor an ascent rate no faster than 18 metres/60 feet per minute while using a reference line, wall or sloping bottom as a visual guide only.

  • Perform a 3-minute safety stop at 5 metres/15 feet before surfacing without holding on to a reference line for positioning.


Workshop 1: Scuba Review in Confined Water

Divemaster candidates will run a simulated Scuba Review program. This is done as a role-playing exercise: the course staff and/or other divemaster candidates will play the role of certified divers doing a Scuba Review and will simulate commonly encountered problems.


The candidates must

  • Access Scuba Review program standards in the PADI Instructor Manual.

  • State Scuba Review knowledge assessment options

  • Demonstrate all Scuba Review skills

  • Recognize and correct problems during skill practice


Workshop 2: Skin Diver Course and Snorkeling Supervision

Similar to the Scuba Review, candidates will run a simulated Skin Diver course or Snorkeling tour. The workshop can be conducted in either confined water or open water.


The candidates will


  • Give the Skin Diver course briefing or a snorkeling tour briefing.

  • Conduct a Skin Diver course confined water or open water dive; or lead a snorkel tour, demonstrating control and supervision.

  • Recognize and correct problems during the skin dive or snorkel tour.

Workshop 3: Discover Scuba Diving Program in Confined Water

Divemaster are not automatically allowed to independently run Discover Scuba Diving programs (a try-out). There are additional requirements for Divemasters to qualify to run the program independently in confined water. Only instructors are allowed to run Discover Scuba Diving programs in open water.


  • Access Discover Scuba Diving program standards in the PADI Instructor Manual, and explain a divemaster’s role as an assistant during a confined water experience.

  • Locate the Discover Scuba Diving Leader Internship Requirements in the PADI Instructor Manual, and explain how a divemaster qualifies as a Discover Scuba Diving Leader.

  • Demonstrate proper positioning relative to the participants as directed by the instructor.

  • Recognize and correct problems during the experience.


Workshop 4: Discover Scuba Diving Program – Additional Open Water Dive

Divemaster can run an additional Discover Scuba Diving dive in open water after the participants have completed the program with an instructor. For the additional dive, you will need to


  • State the ratio and supervision requirements for an additional dive (subsequent to an initial dive with an instructor) for Discover Scuba Diving participants conducted by a PADI Divemaster.

  • Give a dive briefing appropriate for Discover Scuba Diving participants for an additional open water dive.

  • Lead the dive, demonstrating proper control and required supervision.

  • Recognize and correct problems during the dive.

Workshop 5: Discover Local Diving in Open Water

Candidates must:

  • Access Discover Local Diving program standards in the PADI Instructor Manual.

  • Assess dive site conditions, and plan the dive.

  • Give a Discover Local Diving briefing.

  • Lead a dive, demonstrating control and supervision.

  • Recognize and correct problems during the dive.

  • Demonstrate how to deploy a surface marker.



Practical Assessments


During the course you’ll apply you skills to real-life situations. You’ll be working with the instructor on actual courses.


Practical Assessment 1: Assisting with Open Water Diver Students in Confined Water


Candidates must:

  1. Organize the pre-dive setup of equipment by Open Water Diver students for confined water training dives.

  2. Coordinate student diver flow during confined water training dives.

  3. Supervise Open Water Diver students not receiving the immediate attention of the instructor during confined water training dives.

  4. Assist an Open Water Diver student in overcoming a learning difficulty in confined water.

  5. Respond to, or prevent, student diver problems as they occur.

  6. Demonstrate a skill for student divers in confined water.


Practical Assessment 2: Open Water Diver Students in Open Water


Candidates must:

  1. Conduct an environmental assessment at an open water training site and report to the instructor appropriate recommendations about the suitability of the site for training entry-level student divers.

  2. Organize the pre-dive setup of equipment by Open Water Diver student divers for open water training.

  3. Assist in the preparation of an open water training site.

  4. Coordinate student diver flow during open water training.

  5. Supervise Open Water Diver student divers not receiving the immediate attention of the instructor during open water training.

  6. Respond to, or prevent, student diver problems as they occur.

  7. Lead student divers on an underwater tour (ratio 2:1) for pleasure.

Practical Assessment 3: Continuing Education Student Divers in Open Water


Candidates must:

  1. Coordinate student diver flow during open water training.

  2. Escort continuing education student divers under the indirect supervision of the instructor during open water training and report performance and learning difficulties to instructor.

  3. Assist a continuing education student diver in overcoming a learning difficulty.

  4. Respond to, or prevent, student diver problems as they occur.

Practical Assessment 4: Certified Divers in Open Water


Candidates must:

  1. Conduct environmental and diver assessments, and take other appropriate supervisory steps based on the assessments.

  2. Conduct an appropriate pre-dive briefing for a dive site.

  3. Account for buddy teams entering and leaving the water.

  4. Respond to, or prevent diver problems appropriately



How long does the course take?

It all depends…


The Academic portion of the course, as well as skills practice and all other waterskills can be completed fairly quickly, the practical application part may take some time.


There are two ways to complete some of the Practical Assessments:


  • simulated exercises, or

  • internship.


We prefer the simulated exercises option and if we have more than one candidate, this will be workable. It is easier to arrange and shortens the course time, but does require a group of Divemaster candidates.


In simulated exercises you will function as a Divemaster to other Divemaster candidates or staff members (DMs or instructors). In this case we can introduce more problems for you to solve and make the exercises more challenging without unnecessary pressure of getting things wrong as the divers having problems are not in real danger. It is also very good fun… With simulated exercises the course takes typically 4-8 weeks from start to finish.


The internship option is suitable if you are the only candidate. In this case you are to assist and conduct programs in real life situation under the guidance of your instructor. The internship option takes longer as the required courses and programs you’ll need to assist with, and programs you need to run, span over longer period of time and require actual students or certified divers in adequate numbers. Thus, these may not be available whenever you are.





After a successful completion of all course requirements AND having logged at least 60 dives (including dives showing experience in night diving, deep diving and underwater navigation) candidates submit a completed and signed Divemaster Application to the appropriate PADI Office, along with one photo and registration fees (or credit card information). The PADI Divemaster registration fee - including the membership for the current year - is AUD196 (2017).




Summary of Course Contents and Sample Schedule


The below schedule is for reference only. The actual order of sessions is likely to be different: we will be mixing academics, pool and open water diving. There are certain requirements to the order of sessions, but those will be built into your actual schedule.


The classroom sessions and pool sessions are estimated to take approximately 3hrs, open water sessions are based on a half-day boat. Thus, if we do longer sessions, we should be able to achieve more in that particular day.


Classroom sessions


Session 1            Introduction & Administrative procedures. Divemaster Video


Session 2            Chapter 1  Role and Characteristics of a PADI Divemaster.

                          Chapter 2: Supervising Diving Activities


Session 3            Chapter 3: Assisting With Student Divers

                          Chapter 4: Diver Safety and Risk Management


Session 4            Chapter 5: Divemaster Conducted Programs


Session 5            Chapter 6: Specialized Skills and Activities

                          Chapter 7: The Business of Diving and Your Career

                          Chapter 8: Awareness of the Dive Environment


Session 6            Dive Theory Review

(Session 7)          Exams


Pool Sessions


Pool 1                 Watermanship exercise 1: 400m swim

                          Watermanship exercise 2: 15min float

                          Skills circuit 1


Pool 2                 Watermanship exercise 3: 800m snorkel swim

                          Skills circuit 2

                          Equipment Exchange


Pool 3                 Workshop 1: Scuba Review in Confined Water


Pool 4                 Workshop 3: Discover Scuba Diving Program in Confined Water


Pool 5                 Practical Assessment 1* — Open Water Diver Students in Confined



Open Water sessions


OW Day 1             Skill 1 — Dive Site Set Up and Management

                            Skill 2 — Mapping Project

                            Diver Rescue


OW Day 2             Skill 4 — Search and Recovery Scenario

                            Skill 5 — Deep Dive Scenario


OW Day 3             Skill 3 — Dive Briefing

                            Workshop 5: Discover Local Diving in Open Water

                            Workshop 2: Skin Diver Course and Snorkeling Supervision

                            Workshop 4: Discover Scuba Diving Program – Additional

                            Open Water Dive


OW Day 4             Practical Assessment 2* — Open Water Diver Students in

                            Open Water*


OW Day 5             Practical Assessment 3* — Continuing Education Student

                           Divers in Open Water*


OW Day 6             Practical Assessment 4* — Certified Divers in Open Water



*) for internship option, in conjunction with an on-going course (Open Water, Advanced Open Water or Rescue course) or fun divers as appropriate

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