Master… of SCUBA?

When I started SCUBA diving, I had this idea I would only be taking one class to get my certification and that would be it. After all, once you’re certifed you can go anywhere and do anything. That lasted about 2 days. Before I was even completed with my Open Water Diver class I had signed up for and begun my Advanced Open Water class. With that came a lot of knowledge and a lot of fun dives. Essentially the reason for classes (besides your core certification) is to allow you to become more familiar with your environment and the tools you are working with. This includes deep dives, wreck dives, night dives, etc.

At this point in my diving “career” I’ve realized additional classes can help me expand what I already know and allow me to help my fellow divers. Having said this there are a few “areas” or classes that I want to take:

  1. Emergency First Response / Rescue diver – for obvious reasons.
  2. Dry Suit diving Рfor use in really cold conditions (like northern California)
  3. Search and Recovery – this gives diving another purpose and a potential business opportunity

Once you complete the Rescue diver course you have two options on the PADI course list – Master SCUBA Diver or DiveMaster. Master SCUBA Diver is the last stop on the recreational scuba side. That means you’re in a league of your own and you have the most knowledge outside of the professional community. The other option is DiveMaster. This path is on the professional side of diving and develops your leadership abilities, qualifying you to supervise dive activities and assist instructors with student divers.

So now I have a dilemma. Which side of the road do I choose? I like the Master SCUBA Diver because I will have the training and experience in a wide variety of environments – beyond most regular divers. I will also avoid the downsides of the professional side like being required to carry Insurance and/or being liable for the divers around me. On the downside, the Master certification requires I complete 5 other courses (other specialities) before I can complete the Master course. Personally that sounds like a lot of money just so that I can say I’m more well rounded than most “recreational” divers.

The other choice is DiveMaster and the more I read about this route the more I like it. I like the idea of developing my leadership abilities and as far as I can tell I won’t have to complete any other underlying courses besides the Rescue Diver. Even if I have to carry insurance, I can always sign up with a Dive shop (which will pay for my insurance) and when I do help instruct I will get paid for it.

So what would you do? Would you take it to the next level or not? What kind of Master.. would you be?