Here's the straight answer to your dive career inquiry...
Fred Grieger - Instructor - Commercial Diver / Aerospace Engineer
March 12, 2008 at 11:18:33
Here is the straight answer regarding some of your inquiries:
1) Hall's Diving Center has always been a NAUI pro facility; and has always also been one of the best (if not the best) instructor training facilities in the US. You cannot go wrong by going there.
2) Overpriced ? This should strike a nerve with every instructor out there. Dive training has been grossly UNDERPRICED, since certifications began to be issued in this sport 40 years ago. This goes for all levels of training. Entry level courses today are still taught for $350 or less, nearly half of what it really costs to PROPERLY train an entry level diver; and most leadership training too has been underpriced in order to encourage as many people as possible to enter the sport. The problem is that diving instruction is a "hobbyists trade", and no one can make a proper living ONLY at providing dive training, because the industry players are still led by people with poor business acumen, little knowledge of economics, and who are driven more by emotion and ego rather than practicality; which leads to your other question....
PADI -vs- NAUI: PADI has become the largest training agency; but bigger isn't better (just ask the dinosaurs). NAUI and YMCA were the first and remain the oldest training agencies in the US: and have by far the highest training standards. Having been an instructor for NAUI, PADI, and YMCA at some point during the past 30 years, I today would not affiliate myself with any agency other than NAUI, simply because the training standards (in spite of having been diminished somewhat to try and compete with PADI, much to my chagrin), remain the highest. I continually receive comments from my former students; who on dive trips to the Caribbean remark on the obvious difference they observe between most new divers trained in the PADI shop retail system, versus the NAUI "complete training" ideology. It is not enough to teach people some skills, and some academic facts so they can pass a test....entry level divers must be taught the comprehensive fundamentals of this Sport AS WELL AS BE INSTILLED WITH THE DISCIPLINE TO DIVE ACCORDING TO THOSE PROCEDURES AND SKILLS. This isn't something that can be conveyed in a 3 or 4 day course like is possible with PADI. While I'm on my soap-box; I want to state again an action by NAUI that has disappointed me, which has been in lowering the minimum age for SCUBA certification to 10 years old. This was managegment caving in yet again to pressure from PADI; who leads the charge in diminishing standards year after year in an effort to "fertilize" the industry with as many certified divers (certified does NOT mean qualified) as possible to whom the manufacturers can sell equipment. It is time that the dive training agencies woke up and smelled the coffee; that delivering dive training must be done so with regard to the economic realities of it's costs; just as in re-selling a retail item like a regulator. Retailers are forced to comply with certain MSRP (minimum suggested retail prices) for products they re-sell; ... So too should dive training be sold in terms of the quality of the providor; and NAUI has proven for the past 4 decades to be the premium product, while unfortunately having to deliver that product at below cost thanks to their competitors shoving INFERIOR training down the throats of dive tourists the world over.
Last, most of what you also read and hear is true; mainly due to my aforementioned diatribe on economics. It is virtually impossible to earn a decent living as a SCUBA instructor, there is no sugar-coating this. The only way is to either own a dive-shop, own a live-aboard charter operation, or do it part-time next to having a "real job" from which you can actually earn a living, with the acceptance that your income from part-time teaching will barely cover your own costs of training, insurance, equipment, etc. etc.. Those are the hard and true facts about this sport and industry, and this economic model will remain so until the heads of PADI, NAUI, and others get together and stop bashing each other; and instead realize that quality must come first...in products AND in training; and to convey a top quality product has costs that must be accounted for in the pricing model. As it stands, the price we can charge for training hardly justifies the expense and effort of even becoming an instructor....but that is the sad truth.