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Best places to become a Dive Instructor in Central America

Central America boasts some of the most stunning diving spots in the world. With its diverse marine life and wide range of diving destinations and high level Professional Dive Career Centers, it's no wonder that many aspiring divers flock to this region to pursue their quest to turn their passion in to a diving career.

In this blog, we'll explore some of the best destinations to become a dive instructor in Central America. And we have a some great recommendations that will help you to make an informed decision.

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1. Best Professional diving Destinations in Central America

Costa Rica diving on the Pacific Coast

Costa Rica may be better known for its lush rainforests and diverse wildlife, but its Pacific coastline also offer fantastic diving opportunities. With its warm waters and abundant marine biodiversity, Costa Rica is a hidden gem for divers.

There are a handful of dive centers that offer instructor courses. Most of them have course directors or instructor trainers on staff with many years of experience. Playas del Coco is the main town for diving in Costa Rica and it is here that you will find the best diving in Costa Rica. Besides the local dive sites around the Gulf of Papagayo. Many divers come for diving with oceanic mantas at Catalinas Islands or the Bullsharks at Bats (Murcielago Archipelago). Playas del Coco is conveniently located 30 minutes from Liberia International Airport you will find daily flight connections to all mayor destinations in Europe, North America and parts of central and South America.

Murcielago Bats Islands in Costa Rica

Why would you choose to become an instructor in Playas del Coco ?

  • High quality training with Career Centers (like Rich Coast Diving)

  • World class diving with Manta rays and Bullsharks

  • "Diving for life" with your instructor or divemaster course

  • Great for outdoor activities with National parks nearby

  • Safe and easy country to travel around with short travel distances

  • Visa for tourists is 90 days and if you are lucky they give you 180 days !

  • History of conservation and a wide range of marine conservation projects

  • With year round diving there are employment opportunities for new instructors

  • Conveniently located with daily flights to mayor destinations


Belize, with its pristine waters and the second-largest barrier reef in the world, is a diver's paradise. The country offers many opportunities for professional courses, with numerous dive centers and resorts catering to divers of all levels. Ambergris Caye, are the most popular destinations due to their bustling diving community and proximity to the Belize Barrier Reef.

While the Blue Hole is Belize best-known dive site, there's much more to discover. The waters are clear and warm, offering great conditions for beginners and some exciting diving for the more advanced diver. Getting to the mayor dive locations requires a bit of effort. Either flying to Belize city or crossing the border from Mexico. Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye, and Turneffe Atoll can be accessed by either ferry or flight.

Belize offers very limited options for those looking to become a dive instructor and instructor development courses might not be available year round.

Map destinations dive instructor course and certification

Roatán and Utila, Honduras

Roatán, situated in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Honduras, is renowned for its breathtaking underwater landscapes and diverse marine ecosystems. The island is home to numerous dive resorts and training facilities that offer instructor development programs.

Instructor courses in Roatán provide training in some of the Caribbean's best dive sites. From vibrant coral gardens to thrilling wall dives, divers-in-training have the opportunity to explore a variety of underwater environments while honing their teaching abilities under the guidance of seasoned instructors.

Utila stands as the tiniest among the Bay Islands and remains less developed than its counterpart, Roatan. Scuba divers flock to Utila for its great underwater sites, including the opportunity to encounter migrating whale sharks. Utila is another top destination for dive professionals in Central America. Known for its affordable dive courses and laid-back atmosphere, Utila attracts divers from around the world seeking quality instruction in a relaxed setting.

Why would you choose to become an instructor in Honduras ?

  • Wide choice of Career Centers that offer PADI and SSI instructor courses

  • Some great Caribbean diving sites

  • With many dive centers there are employment opportunities for new instructors

  • Cheaper cost of living than most other Caribbean destinations.

2. Different types of Training Centers

When becoming a dive instructor you have the choice between different training organisations like PADI, SSI, SDI and others. PADI and SSI are by far the most popular and certify thousands of scuba divers every year. Therefor most jobs are available with PADI and SSI dive centers and we highly recommended that you check what certification organisation is most common in the place where you want to teach. And if you are looking to travel the world as a dive instructor then the PADI Dive Shop Locator or the SSI center locator will give you a pretty good idea of which shops are most common in which area. The past years SSI has become the worlds fastest growing diving organisation that has taken over most of Europe, Asia and now North America. PADI is still dominant in most of the Caribbean and Central and South America. What is great about SSI is that they show job offers online on the SSI website. As where for PADI, dive jobs are only accessible for PADI professionals.

When you have determined to go for PADI or SSI then you have choice of different training centers. With PADI there is a wide range of options but most likely you will go for a PADI CDC (Career Development Center) or a PADI 5 star instructor Development Center. Read more about the options HERE to make an informed decision.

Dive Instructor in Costa Rica

As a dive instructor candidate you want to receive your training from the most experienced PADI Course directors and staff instructors. PADI CDC generally do the most training and are up to date with all standards. But what is the difference between an "Instructor Development Center" or "Career Development Center".

PADI 5 star Instructor Development Center

PADI Five Star Instructor Development Centers (Five Star IDCs) are dive centers that meet all PADI Five Star Dive Center standards, plus offer PADI instructor-level training. Five Star IDCs have at least one PADI Course Director on staff and are committed to offering PADI Instructor Development Courses and continuing education opportunities to dive professionals. These businesses excel in using the PADI System of diver education to introduce people to scuba diving, and then provide the continuing education that allows individuals to progress on to the dive professional level.

Logo PADI Career Development Center CDC

PADI 5 star Career Development Center

The PADI 5 Star Career Development Center (CDC) classification is awarded to PADI Five Star Instructor Development Centers and Five Star Instructor Development Dive Resorts that dedicate their businesses to professional development for dive instructors. These dive shops meet the highest requirements for training PADI Professionals and offer career-oriented programs to prepare scuba diving professionals for employment in the dive industry, as well as offer job placement assistance for program graduates.

If you are considering to become an SSI professional then you will have the following options. Either SSI Instructor Training Center or the highest rated SSI center which is a SSI Career Center. Generally speaking SSI Career Centers have 2 Instructor Trainers and conduct more professional training per year. So a SSI Career Center is an equivalent to the PADI CDC.

PADI IDC Dive Instructor Graduates and certification

3. Where to work as instructor after you graduate from the IDC

Now is a great time for people that are looking to find a career in the diving industry. Currently there are over 800 jobs posted on the PADI and SSI websites. So if you are looking to start a career in diving then now is a great time to start. And the dive industry is as diverse as any other industry. There are many different types of diving operations (dive centers, dive resorts, diving liveaboards, etc.) in many different parts of the world. And the industry needs people with all sorts of knowledge skills like photographers, marine biologists, marketeers, technicians etc. So start exploring, the world is yours to discover !

Teach Scuba Diving in Costa Rica

4. Where can to gain experience and skills as young dive instructor

When you graduate as dive instructor you will be looking for your first job. During our Instructor Course (IDC) we offer the Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT). This is a PADI instructor that can teach 5 specialties. This rating already gives you an advantage in the job market. Here at Rich Coast Diving we are proud that all of our divemaster and instructor candidates have found employment in the diving industry. We actively help our instructors to gain experience and help them applying for their dream job. Here at Rich Coast Diving we offer a very special program which is an Instructor Internship. This three month program includes the IDC and MSDT. And a month before and after your graduation you will work with our team to gain experience and certify your first students. Have a look at our website for more details.

Dive briefing before the dive in Costa Rica

Once you have gained a year or two of experience and you are serious about staying in the diving industry we highly recommend you start developing more skills like:

  • Learn an additional language

  • Teach different Specialty Courses

  • Become a service technician for scuba gear

  • Become a compressor technician

  • Develop your photography or video skills

  • Learn photo or video editing and post processing

  • Get experience with social media marketing and online campaigns

  • Become an assistant manager if you enjoy managing people

  • Become a Staff Instructor (PADI) or Assistant Instructor Trainer (SSI)

By getting more skills you will guarantee yourself a job in the diving industry and a higher income which will help you do what you love in the future.

5. How to plan your budget and become a dive instructor

Becoming a dive professional is not cheap but definitely worth it and a great achievement. And if you compare professional dive courses with any other outdoor sports you will find that it is actually not that expensive at all.

We highly recommend that you do not base your decision for a certain dive center on the cheapest price offered. Every dive center and destination has different costs and different ways of pricing their courses. Instead we highly recommend you do your homework by reading reviews, testimonies of previous students, read blogs and look for experienced staff that can help you start your dream career. Contact a Dive Career Center to help you make an informed decision based on your interests as a diver.

Plan your budget as a dive instructor or divemaster

6. How to apply for your first dive instructor job

Here at Rich Coast Diving we are proud that all of our professional candidates (Divemasters and instructors) have found employment after graduation. As a Career Center it is our goal to train dive professionals that are ready to be employed and have the experience they need to start their first job.

We offer divemaster and instructor internships where you get experience with dive briefings, guiding divers, assisting on courses, repair equipment, prepare diving and snorkeling trips, work in sale and retail and much more. As part of these internships we also offer a career development workshop in which we help the candidates to write a successful CV, cover letter and application email. If required we will also write a recommendation letter and help our students find the right dive center, live aboard or other dive operation for their first job.

As a career center we have created an online community where our graduated candidates are sharing their experiences as dive instructors and give advice to new instructors and divemasters looking for a job.

Starting your first diving job

7. Start your diving career today !

Central America offers a wide range of diving destinations, each offering its own unique blend of natural beauty, marine life, and diving experiences. Whether you're drawn to the clear waters of Belize, the vibrant reefs of Honduras, or thrilling marine life encounters of Costa Rica and its interesting marine conservation programs, you'll find plenty of options for pursuing your dive career certification in this captivating region.

Before embarking on your diving adventure, be sure to research the various Career Centers and Diving Organisations to find the best fit for your needs and preferences. With dedication, passion, and the right training, you'll be well on your way to start your dream life as dive professional.

If you want to know more about starting your dive career in Costa Rica then our staff is ready to help you taking the first steps. Contact us for more information at:

Rich Coast Diving

Mrs. Céline Monfort

WhatsApp +506 8610 0914

Logo Rich Coast Diving

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