Where do I want to work?
After reaching the Divemaster qualification, working as a Dive Guide is more than likely the next thought that comes to mind. Is your confidence and love of travelling going to take you abroad, or stay in well known waters around your home country? Ask yourself what you want to see underwater and if you are a sun loving person or not. The sun can be very welcoming at the beginning, but it’s not for everyone. Constant heat temperatures, way up in the 30+s, every day can be challenging if you are not used to the climate.
Are you a person who can cope with small Island life eg. on the Maldives or other remote places, or do you prefer more mainland resort areas with lots of hustle and bustle?
Which passport do you currently have and would you require a visa etc. to travel to that country of choice? This brings me to the next point that must be taken into consideration.
Can you obtain permission to live and work in the country of your choice?
If you stay in Europe, this is usually no problem with an EU passport. Working as a Dive Guide abroad, in some exotic country might prove more challenging. Check with your employer what is required, ask if they organise your necessary paperwork, or if you have to manage it yourself. If you require a visa, make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 6 months and you have enough time to apply for the visa. Remember, keep your passport current, it is not always easy to renew one if you are in a remote place. What about work permits and resident permits, are they required, if so, for how long? In some countries you will be asked to go for a medical at the local hospital, they take a blood sample and x-rays of the lungs.
Do you require Health Insurance?
As a Dive Guide this is of paramount importance. Check out your diving insurance and your health care policy first. Do you require an extra health insurance in your choice country, to cover potential doctors fees and hospital costs if ever required. Is your diving insurance up to date, which should cover any Hyperbaric unit costs too. What about medication? If you have an underlying condition that requires medication, make sure you have prescriptions from your doctor, and check the meds are available at your destination.
Take Safety into consideration.
Bear in mind the volatile situation in some countries at the present moment. Safety is paramount, so make sure you have enough resources to get out of the country if necessary. Dive Guides in areas where there is civil war, war zones and conflicts are not required, natural disasters areas are not uncommon in far flung places, but also lack tourism. Taking care of your passport and money is a must. Some countries regard EU passports as valuable commodities, which can be easily sold on to third parties.
Living standards and cost
Do you have a job as a Dive Guide to go to, or are you going in search of a job? If you have position to go to, check out the accommodation offer (if any) and the cost of living there. Check out food prices, rent, water etc and make sure you can live on the offered wage you will receive. Remember drinking water is not a given thing in many parts of the world, bottled water will have to be bought! Some dive centres offer accommodation, some offer a meal, others leave these things up to the Divemaster, so check your situation before leaving.
If you are in search of a job as a Dive Guide, make sure you have enough resources to be able to stay there for a while to canvas the local diving centres. Check that your budget will be sufficient with enough left over to travel back, or to go to a new destination if required. Standards of living and living costs vary, so you would need to plan ahead if you do not have a fixed position to go too. Remember, things often cost more than expected, resources soon diminish when no cash flow is coming in. Being prepared for the unexpected and having enough resources left to move on is good common sense.
Property or Rental Accommodation at Home
This is a big decision that you will have to make before leaving the country. What about the property that you are leaving behind? When you leave your property for good, make sure everything is tied up before departing. It is no fun trying to deal with property owners when you are abroad. Internet access is not always available and electricity is not always a given thing!
If you plan to return to your property at a later date, make sure you have someone keeping an eye on it, or rent it out until you return. Remember to make amendments to your post delivery and any other authorities that you need to contact be departing.
Departure and onward journey
Before packing and departing, you need to think about when and where you will be arriving to. Will you arrive at night or daylight hours? Will you need to travel from the airport to the dive centre, if so is it far? Remember you will have all your dive gear etc, so travelling will not be light. Arrange a pick up from the dive centre staff if possible, if not, check out the possibilities of getting from A to B
Enjoy the lifestyle once you are there and maybe look to progressing to your Instructor level certification.
Photo taken by Janet Bulmer @ DiveSMART Gozo