5 Things I learned in applying for the PADI CDTC

To add a bit of context, the PADI Course Director rating is the highest and most respected rating in recreational scuba diving.

To become a PADI Course Director, you must earn a spot in a Course Director Training Course (CDTC).

Here are the 5 most resonating things I learned in my journey to become a PADI Course Director:

5. Sometimes, the best way to test the water is to take the plunge

I really didn’t really dream of applying for the 2020 CDTC. I wanted to take it slow and accomplish the requirements bit by bit. Anyway, the initial plan was to take the EFR Instructor Trainer course as a minimum requirement for the application and then slowly work my way to completing the application procedure and NOT EXPECT to get accepted. But the PADI Regional Manager at that time motivated me to just do it and because well, you won’t know unless you try.

4. A lot of preparation helps….. Paranoia doesn’t

A few of the requirements included taking the written and classroom portions for the PADI Instructor Exams with a higher passing rate compared to the instructor candidates taking the same exams. What score did I study for? 110%. I wanted to put a bit of leeway so that if I didn’t make 100%, I would still make the cut.

Days before the exam, instead of being confident with the exam topics that I’ve been teaching for the last decade, I was more paranoid about failing. One needs to be trained to handle assessments better to avoid over-exertion.

The last exam I lost sleep over

The best way to succeed is to prepare and over-prepare. How do you know if you’re already prepared? When you do it and you can’t get it wrong. Leave the paranoia behind. That just weighs you down.

3. Know your peers

Who are you supposed to talk to when you’re about to take the next biggest step in your life? The ones that have already been there and done that.

We were given two ears to listen and one mouth to talk. As humans, we were designed to listen more and talk less. Ranting about your stressors to people that have never been to what you’re going through won’t help. Listening to people that don’t know what’s about to come just adds to the stress and paranoia that you’re already giving yourself. So, give yourself a break. Talk to someone that’s already in the position that you want to achieve.

I’m thankful that I had PADI Course Directors around me that I could ask for emotional support from. The shortest conversations with them gave me confidence in what I’m about to tackle.

2. Accept the good together with the bad

There can only be a maximum acceptance of 100 PADI Course Director applicants in a year with two programs. One in Kota Kinabalu in March, and one in the Dominican Republic in June.

I initially did not qualify for the KK program because there were too many applicants, some of them with better ratings than I had. Disheartened with the decision, I was already geared up to reapply for the next program in DR. But then COVID-19 happened.

Unexpectedly, I received a call from the PADI office letting me know that there was a slot that I could fill. I got in! No more beating myself up for not qualifying.


Part of life is knowing your season. Seasons come and go regardless of your willingness or rank. Always remember to stay prepared so that if when that season comes, you can face it headstrong.

Finally, here I am. Off to become the next (YOUNGEST?) Filipino PADI Course Director. PADI Instructor Development Courses handled by yours truly coming soon!

Ivan is currently a PADI Master Instructor. He became a PADI Divemaster in 2005 and earned his PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor rating in 2008. After receiving his Master Instructor status in 2017, he is currently on a mission to become a PADI CD that does not dry up.
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