Some divers travel thousands of miles to complete instructor training in a resort destination, but divers in North America have plenty of great options closer to home. When choosing where to do your PADI® Instructor Development Course (IDC), there are a few things to consider:

What is your dream scuba diving job? If you’re interested in public safety diving or scientific diving, completing your IDC in an area where visibility is mixed and dry suits are common will help you hone these skills. Alternately, if you want to work as a dive instructor in a resort area, choose a destination where you can get experience working on a dive boat.

How much time can you take off from work? After figuring in travel time, you’ll need at least two weeks to complete the IDC and IE (instructor examination). If you’d rather use this vacation time for something else, perhaps a celebratory dive trip, scheduling your IDC and IE over a few weekends closer to home may be a better option.

Do you plan to teach scuba near where you live? Learn priceless local tricks and tips by completing your scuba instructor training in the area where you plan to teach. Find out where to look for local marine life, how to set up a navigation exercise in surge-y conditions, or other essential logistics specific to your area. After you become an instructor, you can team teach with other local IDC candidates from your class and enjoy support from the local diving community.

There are many places to do your IDC course across the United States. Each IDC Center has  its own areas of specialization and benefits. Below is a small cross section of PADI IDC centers in the United States to illustrate the similarities and differences among different locations and dive shops. To find a PADI IDC course in your area, visit the PADI Dive Shop locator and filter for Instructor Development Center or Career Development Center.


There’s a saying among California divers, “if you learn to dive here, you can dive anywhere.” The golden state has diverse diving opportunities including: boat, shore, wreck, technical/deep, dry suit, altitude and diving in kelp forests. Divers also must learn how to deal with current, surf and surge. All this is to say, scuba instructors who train in California come away with a broad skill set.

Featured IDC Centers

Diver Dan’s – Santa Clara, CA

Diver Dan’s in Santa Clara has a 24-year history of excellence in instructor-level training with a focus on personalized attention. They have a convenient, on-site pool and offer a low-price guarantee on dive equipment.

Eco Dive Center – Los Angeles, CA
As the name suggests Eco Dive Center emphasizes eco-friendly business operations. The shop is family-owned and operated with a large retail and training facility in the heart of L.A., close to local beaches and dive boats.

Ocean Enterprises – San Diego, CA
Ocean Enterprises has two PADI Course Directors and is an approved MyCAA school. Ocean Enterprises’ large retail and training facility is located close to some of the industry’s largest equipment manufacturers. They offer year-round instructor training, rebreather instructor training and Public Safety Diving courses.

Scuba Center Temecula – Temecula, CA
Scuba Center Temecula offers year-round training and is VA-approved. Their course linking philosophy means divers move through the ranks quickly and helps new instructors gain certs and diverse teaching experience.


Home to the Puget Sound, the second-largest estuary in the US, Washington state is one of the most productive marine environments in North America and a great place for critter-loving divers to level-up to instructors. Instructor candidates can perfect their dry suit and shore diving skills while making friends with Dungeness crabs, giant Pacific octopuses, and learning to spot Pacific spiny lumpsuckers and wolf eels.

Featured IDC Centers:

Seattle Scuba Schools – Seattle, WA

Seattle Scuba Schools has two full-time Course Directors and offers year-round IDC training including: evenings and weekends, a two-week intensive and an IDC program that starts in Seattle and finishes in Bonaire. Full face mask and DPV instructor training available.

Underwater Sports – Locations throughout the Seattle metro area
With locations in Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Edmonds, Federal Way and Olympia, Underwater Sports is the largest PADI dive center in the Pacific Northwest. They offer a massive gear selection and a variety of class options to fit any schedule.


Many people are surprised to learn landlocked Colorado has one of the largest populations of scuba divers in the United States. As a result, there are an abundance of PADI IDC Centers with experienced dive staff who help aspiring dive professionals chart a path to a part-time or full-time scuba career.

Featured IDC Centers: 

Flatirons Scuba & Travel – Broomfield, CO
Flatirons is a self-described “global adventure center” offering training in both recreational and technical scuba diving.

Underwater Phantaseas – Lakewood, CO
IDC candidates at Underwater Phantaseas benefit from an on-site, heated, indoor pool and the opportunity to learn from two course directors.

One World Dive & Travel – Greenwood Village, CO

One World Dive & Travel has two fully-digitized classrooms and extensive kids scuba programs.


The second-largest US state offers a variety of diving opportunities including clear-blue springs, wrecks and a national marine sanctuary. Divers in Texas are also just a short flight away from some of the Caribbean’s best diving.

Featured IDC Centers:

Gigglin’ Marlin – Houston, TX
With two PADI Course Directors on staff, Gigglin’ Marlin offers year-round PADI Pro training. Their program focuses on having fun while gaining confidence and teaching students in a learning style that fits their needs.

Sugar Land Dive Center – Sugar Land, TX

Serving Houston, Katy and the surrounding area, Sugar Land has two platinum-honored PADI Course Directors and offers flexible scheduling options (including completing your IDC and IE in the Caribbean). Sugar Land offers housing, job placement assistance and the option to complete your training in Chinese, English or Spanish.

Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a popular destination for aspiring dive professionals. Warm, clear water and frequently-scheduled IDCs and IEs are two of the main reasons hundreds of divers choose Florida for their PADI Instructor training.

Featured IDC Centers:

Florida Keys Dive Center – Islamorada, FL
Florida Keys Dive Center boasts a 100 percent success rate for instructor candidates and is a VA-approved PADI Career Development Center with two course directors.

Horizon Divers – Key Largo, FL
Horizon Divers offers small, personalized courses and flexible scheduling in addition to a full range of pro courses – including technical diving.

Rainbow Reef  – Key Largo, FL
This VA-approved PADI Career Development Center has three course directors and a deep water SCUBA training pool. They also offer rebreather training.


The Mid-Atlantic offers varied diving opportunities including wreck and boat dives, lakes and quarries. If you need to schedule instructor training in colder months, you can start your training in Virginia and road trip or fly to Florida for your instructor examination.

Featured IDC Centers: 

Nautilus Aquatics – Sterling and Vienna, VA

Nautilus Aquatics has a full-time course director and puts a strong focus on real-life skills needed to work as a dive professional. The Open Water portion of the IDC can be completed in Florida or Puerto Aventuras, Mexico.

Blue Planet – Washington D.C.

Small classes, flexible scheduling and a commitment to conservation are a few of the reasons to choose Blue Planet Scuba. The dive shop works closely with environmental organizations and local communities to foster sustainability and ocean health.


We couldn’t leave out the passionate diving communities in the midwest. In Missouri, there’s the famous Bonne Terre Mine (with 18C/56F water temp and great visibility year-round). Ohio offers opportunities to hone your wreck diving, dry suit and technical diving skills.

Featured IDC Centers
Columbus Scuba – Columbus, OH
Level-up your skills and become a dive professional at family-oriented Columbus Scuba. Technical dive training opportunities available.

Y-Kiki Divers – St. Louis, MO
Y-kiki Divers certifies hundreds of divers every year. Their experienced instructor development staff can prepare you for a variety of scuba careers.

Visit the dive shop locator on to find these and other PADI IDC Centers in the United States – or wherever you live. Learn more about becoming a scuba instructor.

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