PADI Course Director (CD) is the highest level of certification among PADI Professionals. It is a title that only a few hundred professional divers worldwide hold. In a nutshell, these top-level trainers are the people who teach others how to teach diving.

PADI course flow chart

Becoming a Course Director requires hard work, commitment, and passion for diving and teaching. It is not easy! So, is it possible to become a CD in your 20s? The answer is, yes, it is possible but incredibly rare!

In this article, we will showcase three young CDs from Europe, the Middle East, and the US and explain how they achieved this impressive milestone at a young age. We will discuss their dedication, commitment and purpose to hopefully inspire you to pursue your dream of becoming a Course Director yourself.


Edwin Joel Lodder (UK) completed his CDTC in the Dominican Republic at the age of 23 in 2023. Diving since he was 17, Lodder recalls, “I was working for a small media company while completing my schooling when I decided to pursue a Marine and Natural History Photography degree. It felt like the perfect fit, but I lacked the necessary scuba diving qualification for the underwater element. That’s when I enrolled in an Open Water Diver course with Ocean Turtle Diving.” After completing the course, he became a dedicated diver completing a Divemaster internship at the dive center before starting university. During his studies, Lodder qualified as a PADI Instructor.

Edwin Joel Lodder speaking at his CDTC in the Dominican Republic.
Edwin Joel Lodder speaking at his CDTC in the Dominican Republic.

Hassan Khayal (UAE), a 29-year-old CD from the Middle East, started his diving journey as a child in the early 2000s. “I knew from the moment I started my Open Water Diver course that I wanted to become a PADI Course Director. I vividly remember visiting the PADI website the day I received my study materials for the course and memorizing the requirements for each certification on the path to becoming a Course Director!” He completed his CDTC at the age of 24. “Diving wasn’t just a hobby; it was my lifelong calling. Turning my passion into a career made me wake up excited to go to work every day, knowing that I was living my dream,” says Khayal.

Hard Work

Jack Fishman (USA), who became a CD in 2022 at the age of 29, had been diving since he was 9 years old. “I started my scuba diving journey in 2001, in a pool practicing Seal Team missions on a family vacation.” When he was 18, Fishman worked as a camp counselor at Seacamp in the Florida Keys. Assisting the Dive Safety Officer and local PADI Instructors, he saw their dedication to the children. This experience fueled his passion for becoming a scuba instructor. “In 2012, one year after my summer at Seacamp, I returned to the Keys to Rainbow Reef Dive Center (RRDC) in Key Largo. Here I decided my purpose was to inspire others about actions they could take to help save the ocean. At RRDC, I went from Advanced Open Water Diver all the way to Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT). I never worked harder in my life to achieve my goals, which told me that I was on the right path,” remarks Fishman.

People looking at fish identification slates

Support System

All three young Course Directors had a supportive network that helped them achieve their dream. Their families, the dive centers they worked for, and their communities offered them the necessary encouragement, guidance, and resources to succeed.

Lodder’s family, his manager and his fellow PADI Instructors have greatly supported him. Khayal shared the journey to becoming a CD with his older brother, “[He] had the same goals and dreams as me, so we were also able to support each other along the way. Without our bond and teamwork, we would not have achieved as much in diving or become PADI Course Directors so young.” For Fishman, his work at PADI AWARE and PADI helped him continue to grow and develop his training skills as a PADI Staff Instructor.


The young Course Directors’ unique purpose fueled their passion for diving and teaching.

For Khayal, it was a childhood dream that he pursued relentlessly, “I was lucky to know the path I wanted to embark on, so I focused my teaching efforts and related activities to streamline my path towards becoming a Course Director in an expedited manner.”

For Fishman, it was a desire to share the joy of diving with others and promote ocean conservation efforts at a higher level. “I am now the Community & Campaigns Manager at PADI AWARE, and my role is to develop new conservation programs for PADI Dive Centers, as well as create new conservation diving courses. This dream wouldn’t be possible without the skills and training as a PADI CD,” adds Fishman.

Hassan Khayal speaking at his CDTC in 2018
Hassan Khayal speaking at his CDTC in 2018
Diver with fins on hands, sliding in a water slide
Photo Courtesy of Hassan Khayal

For Lodder, it was a combination of personal growth and business development. “We have some customers who used to joke about when I would get a ‘real’ job. However, their perspective changed as I continued to teach and prove the potential for success. They now realize that making this endeavor a career is not only possible but achievable.” Lodder also found it valuable to witness the growth of the dive center, as it is deeply intertwined with his sense of purpose. He reflects, “It’s incredibly satisfying to know that I’ve played such a pivotal role in our dive center’s success and ongoing growth. We’re now one of the busiest dive centers in the country.”

Becoming a PADI Course Director in your 20s is a remarkable achievement that requires dedication, hard work, a support system, and purpose. The stories of Lodder, Khayal, and Fishman show us that it is possible to achieve this milestone at a young age with the right mindset, training, and support.

Whether your purpose is to inspire others, promote ocean conservation, or grow personally and professionally, becoming a Course Director can be a life-changing experience that opens up new opportunities and challenges. So, if you are a young diver who dreams of becoming a CD, remember that anything is possible if you have a passion for diving and teaching, a willingness to learn and grow, and a supportive network that believes in you.

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