Master Scuba Diver Versus Divemaster

Jerry Otte   Oct 17, 2019

Master Scuba Diver versus Divemaster. Which should you choose?

by Jerry Otte, PADI Master Instructor

One of the most common training related questions I hear from experienced scuba divers is, “What is the difference between PADI Master Scuba Diver and PADI Divemaster“?

PADI Continuing Ed FlowchartI'm sure part of the confusion over these ratings relates to how similar their names are. Master Scuba Diver and Divemaster sound similar and even look similar.

In addition, both courses also come at pretty much the same point in the PADI courses flowchart. Following the Rescue Diver course, scuba divers can elect to pursue either Master Scuba Diver or Divemaster. The course requirements are much the same.

Yet for all the similarities, a Master Scuba Diver and a PADI Divemaster are very different. Let's start by examining Master Scuba Diver.

The Master Scuba Diver rating is the black belt of scuba diving. It represents the highest non-professional diver rating in the PADI system. Divers achieving this rating must complete the PADI Advanced Open Water course, the PADI Emergency First Response course, five PADI specialty courses, and the PADI Rescue Diver course. In addition, they must have 50 log divers verified by a PADI Instructor with a rating of Master Scuba Diver Trainer or above before applying to PADI for the rating.

By contrast, PADI Divemaster is the first professional level certification in the PADI system. This is where a diver moves from developing dive skills to developing dive leadership skills. Quite often, PADI Divemasters progress to the PADI Instructor ranks where they learn to both lead certified divers and train divers at all levels.

To enter the PADI Divemaster program, a diver must have completed the PADI Rescue Diver course, must have a current CPR and first aid certificate, and must have proof of 40 logged dives on open circuit scuba. Once accepted into the Divemaster program, the Divemaster candidate must complete a rigorous course designed to expand their diving knowledge, develop diving leadership skills, and cultivate role model dive skills. Divemaster candidates are evaluated in each of these three areas and must achieve minimum scores established by PADI. At the conclusion of the program, a Divemaster candidate must have logged a minimum of 60 open water dives.

Once the Divemaster candidate completes the requirements for the Divemaster rating, they must complete an application and apply to PADI for the rating. A committee at PADI reviews Divemaster applications, score sheets submitted by the PADI Instructor running the Divemaster course, and approves or rejects the application.

In the simplest terms, those of you trying to understand the difference between Master Scuba Diver and Divemaster might think of them like this. Master Scuba Diver is the highest rating in recreational diving. Many Master Scuba Divers go on to enroll in additional specialties, become Technical Divers or enter the PADI Divemaster program. PADI Divemaster in contrast is the starting point for those who want to share diving with others in a professional capacity and develop dive leadership skills. Divers interested in working in the dive industry should consider PADI Divemaster as this is where most dive professionals start their careers.