What to expect during your IDC!

If your Instructor Development Course is getting close, then chances are you’re feeling a little excited and a lot of nerves! I can’t lie, the general comment I heard from nearly every instructor before mine was that the PADI IDC is stressful! Having done the IDC myself in August 2017, I can now say that I also agree with that majority. Don’t let that put you off! The IDC is not long in the grand scheme of things, usually ranging from around 7 – 14 days. After that, it is a case of the Instructor Exam, just 2 days, where an examiner from PADI comes to grade you on the things you have learned during your IDC.

Please note, I am a PADI Instructor, so all information here is in regards to the PADI Instructor Development Course only.

Being prepared for the IDC is key for success!

What actually is the PADI IDC?

The PADI IDC is actually made up of 2 parts: The Assistant Instructor course and the Open Water Scuba Instructor Course. Most people do both and become an Open Water Scuba Instructor, however, you can just do the first section and become a PADI Assistant Instructor. A common misconception is underestimating how much time is spent in the classroom. As a divemaster, you learn all about the practical side of diving and assist on many courses. The IDC is about putting that into practice and how to effectively pass on your knowledge to students.

Who can take the Instructor Development Course?

You must already be a PADI Divemaster. If you are a divemaster or equivalent with a different agency, I suggest contacting PADI directly to see if you can still take the PADI IDC and what the requirements are.

You must have 100 logged dives, and have been Open Water Diver certified for at least 6 months. You must also have obtained Emergency First Response certificate in the last 2 years, and you need a signed medical statement no more than 1 year old. You can find more information on the PADI website.

Idc padi dsd

You will soon be conducting your own DSD programs!

Ok, so what will I be doing during the IDC?

Like I said above, there is a fair bit of time spent in the classroom, watching and listening to presentations and also preparing to give your own presentations. The days can be extremely long, and sometimes you will just need a bar of chocolate and a huge coffee to stay focused. I was lucky to have only myself and 2 others in my IDC, meaning that we all got a lot of time to go over any things we were not sure of. There is also a practical side, with presentations in the pool and the open water, where you will simulate teaching students.

PADI prescriptive teaching presentations

So, for your I.E you will be given a question from a knowledge review, from any course an OWSI can teach. You then assume your students answered this question wrong, and give a short presentation to guide them to the right answer. Don’t panic, you don’t just get thrown in the deep end. There is a guideline to follow, telling you exactly what to include (like training aids, dive related stories, key points etc) and you will get to practice different presentations during the IDC so you are ready for the I.E.

PADI IDC skill circuit

Yep, all 24 skills, to demonstration level and scored out of 5. You already had to do this for your Divemaster, and the good news is the skills are exactly the same and scored in the exact same way! If it has been a while since you did the whole circuit it could be worth watching a video online. It is worth noting that in your I.E, you will be given 5 random skills to perform and not all 24. You also have to go over Rescue Skill 7, Unresponsive Diver at the Surface. Again, this is at demonstration level, so nice and slow, pointing out all critical attributes.

IDC confined water presentations

You will be assigned a skill from any course, so anything from regulator recovery to a panicked diver. You then have to brief the skill, demonstrate, make sure your students perform the skill and meet performance requirements, and then debrief. You have slates in your PADI IDC Crewpack to help you step by step. You learn how to organize your students, effectively use an assistant and provide positive reinforcement.

Open water presentations

Very similar to Confined Water Presentations, but you now need to take the conditions and environment into account. There are no demonstrations this time, but very thorough briefings. In both presentations, your students are given problems that you have to catch, and there is even space on your slate for you to write which problems you anticipate happening! For example, if you are given the skill of fully flooded mask clear, you can already anticipate that perhaps your students won’t fill the mask, won’t apply pressure to the top of the mask, won’t exhale through the nose.

Instructor diving scuba

IDC theory and exams

Your course director will go through all the courses from Discover Scuba Dive through to Divemaster, as well as information on specialties. This takes a few days, as all details are covered. You will become very acquainted with your Instructor manual, which you should already have from your Divemaster. It is an overload of information, depths, ratios, numbers, and standards! All this helps you with the exams you will do during the I.E. There is the open book (meaning you can have your instructor manual available) Standards and Procedures exam where you can expect questions on ratios, depths, and documentation. Then there is the 5 part theory exam,  with 12 questions each on Physiology, Physics, RDP, Equipment, and Skills and Environment. If you are worried about exams, you can find some practice questions at scubaexams to brush up on your knowledge and increase confidence!

The PADI IDC is intense, and you may end up on the brink of tears, but don’t despair. The light at the end of the tunnel is the I.E, in my opinion, it is nowhere near as hard or stressful as the IDC. Maybe I was lucky, but our examiner was lovely and encouraged us to ask any questions and seek advice. The weekend of the I.E flew by, and I was left wondering what I was so worried about! It is inevitable you will be anxious, but it will bring you closer to the fellow candidates too and you will likely remain friends for life!

Finished the IDC? Check out my tips for finding your first job as a Dive Instructor!

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About Me!


Hi! Thanks for stopping by. I am a 20 something writer from the UK. As a PADI Dive Instructor, if I am not exploring life underwater, I am getting on a plane to find adventure on land. I love to share my travels with my readers – with a big focus on solo female travel, budget saving tricks, and of course Scuba Diving. I love to connect, so feel free to reach out on social media! I am always open to ideas and collaborations – just drop me and email!

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