Setting-the-Bar

Setting the Bar

By Brian Shreve

Why didn’t I get that rating? Can’t I just apply for it?

These are questions we frequently hear from instructors new to TDI. Whether coming in as a technical instructor crossing over from another agency or as an SDI instructor venturing into the professional technical realms, the answer is typically the same.  Some other agencies offer administrative upgrades to instructor levels. SDI does this – if an instructor has training and documented experience (dives) in a specialty area, they can submit an application, pay a fee, and become an instructor in that specialty.  Other agencies do that with technical ratings. However, with very few exceptions, TDI doesn’t. TDI has a more rigorous instructor development path, requiring experience as a diver and teaching experience as an instructor at lower levels before moving on.

So how do I become a TDI instructor?

Let’s say you are an SDI Instructor who wants to upgrade to TDI.

  • The first step is to become a certified diver at the level you want to teach. Say, for example, you want to teach TDI Advanced Nitrox and Decompression Procedures. You would need to meet the prerequisites, which include being certified as a TDI Advanced Nitrox Diver and a TDI Decompression Procedures Diver. TDI recognizes equivalent certifications from other organizations; see this chart for equivalencies.
  • Additionally, you need to show experience teaching at levels below this. These are usually for a certain number of certifications in courses considered sport diving foundations for the respective technical ratings.

In our example, you would need to show experience teaching Nitrox Diver courses to enroll in the Advanced Nitrox Instructor course. Current standards require you to have issued ten diver-level Nitrox certifications.

Similarly, for the Decompression Procedures Instructor course, you need to show experience in conducting deep or technical dives with students. Current standards require either ten SDI Deep Diver certifications, ten SDI Advanced Adventure certifications or ten TDI Advanced Nitrox certifications. You can also teach some combination of the three that total ten.

Once you meet the prerequisites, you can enroll in a TDI Instructor course for Advanced Nitrox or Decompression Procedures. These are conducted by an active TDI Instructor Trainer (IT) who is authorized to teach at these levels. Instructor courses often involves co-teaching the course with the IT as well as separate evaluation, coaching and counseling sessions. Once you meet all the requirements, the IT will sign your TDI Instructor Registration form.

What if I’m already a tech instructor with another agency?

With the brand recognition that TDI has, instructors from other agencies often desire to cross over so they can offer TDI courses. Some agencies, with standards and course progressions similar to TDI’s, this is a simple process. In addition to the standard crossover documents, the instructor just provides copies of their technical instructor credentials and student counts. The instructor is then evaluated against the same standards and prerequisites as an instructor coming up through TDI’s ratings would be. If all prerequisites are met for a given level, then that level is awarded during the crossover. One thing to note, however, is that all lower level prerequisites must also be met.

If the instructor meets the prerequisites for a given level, we approve their crossover. Bear in mind, however, the instructor must meet all prerequisites, including those for lower-level certifications.

Let’s say, for example, a WXYZ instructor wants to cross over as a TDI Extended Range instructor.

  • She holds an equivalent WXYZ rating, which TDI recognizes.
  • The next step is evaluating student counts. These must meet TDI prerequisites, starting with Advanced Nitrox and Decompression Procedures.
  • Her student counts show ten Nitrox divers. This meets the prerequisite for Advanced Nitrox Instructor.
  • The instructor has certified two Deep Divers and three divers at WXYZ’s equivalent to Advanced Adventure. She’s also certified three divers at their equivalent of TDI Advanced Nitrox. That gives her a total of eight. TDI standards, however, require ten. So, to crossover at the Decompression Procedures level, the instructor must show proof of certifying two more divers at one of these levels.
  • The instructor hasn’t issued any WXYZ technical diver certifications. This means she doesn’t meet the Extended Range Instructor crossover prerequisites.

Thus, even though TDI recognizes her instructor rating and agency, the fact she doesn’t yet meet the prerequisites would initially limit her crossover to Advanced Nitrox Instructor. As her TDI student counts build, these can count toward the future crossover of her Extended Range Instructor rating.

The other situation is one in which TDI either doesn’t recognize the agency’s ratings for crossover (due to disparity in course progression or in standards), or the instructor desires to crossover a rating for trimix, overhead, or closed circuit rebreathers. In all of these cases, an evaluation with an active TDI Instructor Trainer (holding IT ratings for the level being crossed over) must be done to cross any ratings over.  In some cases, the evaluation may be as little as one dive and an academic session. Others may require the instructor to complete what basically amounts to an instructor course if their original agency is greatly divergent from TDI’s standards and course progression.

Setting the Bar

By holding crossover instructors to the same standards as we do our own TDI instructors. TDI can maintain the high quality of instructors that the agency is known for. TDI instructors have the experience and background to teach the courses they hold instructor ratings for.

Interested in becoming a TDI instructor? Contact the TDI Training and Membership Services department at training@tdisdi.com or use the TDI Instructor Locator on the website to find a TDI Instructor Trainer near you!

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