Those that keep up-to-date with such things are already aware, but PADI has recently revamped their Divemaster course.
Looking at the changes can be confusing, and a tad daunting, so I’ve broken down what these changes mean for you, based on where you are in your dive career. Simply jump to the header that describes you.
No intention of becoming a divemaster
Let's get the easy one out of the way. If this describes you, then you don’t have to do anything. Keep diving like you always have been.
Want to become a divemaster
Want to start before 1 July, 2011. If you are starting your DM training prior to July 1, 2011, then you can use either the old curriculum, or the new one. The new program requires 40 dives to begin, whereas the old one only requires 20. If you have less than 40 dives, then, you must enroll in the old program.
You may be enrolled in the old program by a shop that still has the previous materials that they need to move. This is not a big deal. PADI is trying to improve the course, but that doesn’t mean the previous course was bad by any means. If you are given a choice, then go for the new one (why not?).
Want to start after 1 July, 2011. The new program doesn't mean anything to you. You must use it, so don’t worry about the difference.
Certified by a non-PADI agency. PADI recognizes certification by other agencies as a pre-requisite for a DM course. If you want to do your DM training under PADI, but have a non-PADI rescue diver equivalent certification, then it's no big deal. Look at the previous categories based on when you want to start to determine where you are.
Want to stay a divemaster. If you have no intention of advancing beyond your DM certification, then there’s nothing you have to worry about. You’ll still be a PADI divemaster, even after 1 July 2011.
Want to continue on to instructor before 1 July, 2011. If you plan on continuing training to become an instructor soon, you’ll have to eventually get the new materials. Thus, if you haven't bought your instructor pack yet, you should try to get the new one.
If you, like me, already have the old pack, then you will eventually have to upgrade to the new DM materials if you want to certify divemasters after July 1, 2011. You must also learn the curriculum changes so that you can teach the new curriculum, just like any instructor.
Want to continue instructor training after 1 July, 2011. The instructor materials you buy will probably be the new ones, so there’s nothing different you will have to do.
If you are an instructor who wants to certify divemasters after 1 July 2011, then you will need to get the new instruction materials, some of which are available on the PADI Pro website. As with any changes, you need to familiarize yourself with them so that you are teaching the current standard.
If you will certify divemasters before 1 July 2011, then be prepared to teach either the new course or the old one, depending on which materials your student has. This is nothing new that you didn’t learn during your instructor training.