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Hi Everyone,

Just a couple of questions, My Girlfriend and I have had just about enough of this, and after a short visit to Koh Tao back in February I fell in love with it. Both My girlfriend and I are rescue level Padi Divers and will be taking dive master to Instructor courses both in Koh Tao. We will be able to sustain our lifestyle for about a year or so, after that we will need to work.

1. After obtaining Divemaster; is it hard to find a diving outfit that will let you lead dives and get payed? I want to follow the rules and it seams difficult to get a work permit.

2. After obtaining Instructor, is it hard to find a placement with a outfit that will pay us? This is our passion and would love to use it as our source of income.

3. As the internet has been a great resource tool, we found out we can bring our Dog, does anyone think this could be a dad idea?

4. We also have work as professionals in the food distribution industry and were thinking abut starting a little breakfast and lunch place. Would it be possible to start up and rent a property to begin? If so what kind of capitol would we need to get off the ground?

Any feed back would much appreciated! Thank you
 

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Hi

I lived and worked in Koh Tao for eleven months in 2006 and 2007. I initialy found my self at a dive centre picked fairly arbitrarily from the padi website. I ended up at one of the bigger shops and I did all my courses from Open Water to Divemaster with the same place.

I think if you find yourself a shop that looks good, and settle down to do your Divemaster and Instructor apply yourself and make a good impression you do have a chance of finding a job.

In my experience dive centres have so many DM and IDC candidates passing through that they never have difficulty finding staff. Also by the same token they rarely employ people from outside their own pool of ex students. When I worked as a DM we regularly had people dropping their CVs in to our office and pretty much all of them went straight in the bin. They rarely need to look outside to fill their jobs. An exception to this would be if there were special requirements for the job vacancy such as languages. If they need a specific language speaker and there isn't someone with that language coming through the ranks then they may look outside.

The visa situation in Thailand is a difficult one. It may have changed since I was there but somehow I doubt it. 90 percent of people working in Koh Tao, myself included, don't have work permits. You would have to be lucky to find a company that could provide visas and work permits for all their expat staff as the government insists that a certain ratio of Thai to foreigner is maintained.

As with the DM, finding placement as an Instructor is usually easier with the dive centre you trained at. Most IDC centres offer internships. This in my opinion amounts to little more than free labour. It's because there are so many new instructors and DMs in Koh Tao that the dive shops can get away with this. They don't need to pay employees and worry about work permits when they have endless interns working for nothing. In the case of Open Water Instructors qualifying for their MSDT they even pay the dive centre to work there whilst they build up their certifications. Unfortunately this is just the way it is...

I was lucky in that when I finished my DMT there was a job available. People come and go all the time from Tao and if you find yourself in the right place at the right time you could well find yourself with a job. There were people I did my DM with who had no luck at all. The bigger dive centres can be a bit cliquey in the way they hire and fire and some people couldn't get a look in.

In my opinion there are already too many dogs in Koh Tao. But don't let that stop you bringing yours with you. :)

As for setting up a business there I can't really comment. I know some people who tried and failed with a motorbike rental business. Koh Tao is pretty saturated so at a guess I would say it would be a challenge.

With the sheer numbers of people competing for jobs that pay relatively little there tends to be a high turnover and I think this unfortunately results in a somewhat unprofessional and shortsighted potential workforce. I currently work out of Bali in Indonesia and many of the companies here will not employ DMs and instructors that cut their teeth in Thailand. Again this us partly due to there being plenty if people coming through the ranks in this country but it also reflects on the way a lot of people conduct themselves. Koh Tao is seen as a party island and the people it trains sometimes don't reach the standards that the industry (particularly in the view of luxury Liveaboards) in this part of the world hold themselves to.

If you can lift yourself above this then there is a career for you. Consider othe places like the Similan Islands and other countries if looking for long term job options.

Sounds tough doesn't it, but like I said if you are serious and committed there is a good chance you will find what you are looking for.

By the way... The diving in Koh Tao is good on a good day but other places in the world put it to shame. If you want good diving then look beyond Koh Tao. If you want a good overall lifestyle, reasonable diving and everything that goes with being involved in one of the biggest Diver training centres in the world you could do a lot worse than Koh Tao.

Good luck and all the best with your new adventures.

Tom

Underwater Photographer wwwdotarewedreamingdotcom
 

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You guys are asking the right questions!

I moved from the Bay Area to Koh Tao 10 years ago for exactly the same reasons! At the other end of those years I am now managing a dive center and still enjoying my time here.

I'll answer your questions as best I can, inline...

1. After obtaining Divemaster; is it hard to find a diving outfit that will let you lead dives and get payed? I want to follow the rules and it seams difficult to get a work permit.

If you are planning on staying long term, it's is possible and advisable to set up your own company - and issue yourself a work permit. After the course, it is not easy to find a place that will pay you to lead dives. Many places are happy to let you do it for free. However, I disagree with previous poster. There are shops that only care about languages, but in our experience, they are the shops that care only about volume, not quality. Assuming you have no languages (fluent, not just passing knowledge) then try to find a shop that focuses on standards and safety - then you will fit in much better.
By matching the shop and your personality, you will not only be happier, but have much better long-term prospects for employment.
Having a work permit puts you on top of the food chain as almost all dive centers want to hire people with permits (but not actually pay for them!)


2. After obtaining Instructor, is it hard to find a placement with a outfit that will pay us? This is our passion and would love to use it as our source of income.

As previous poster said, there is a great deal of supply and not so much demand. The whole industry is very much a pyramid scheme - get people in and then get more and more training out of them. As you climb the pyramid, there is less and less supply, so harder and harder push marketing comes in. While it may not always be true, The people at the top of the hill - Course Directors - are fanatical marketers, rather than passionate divers (ouch....but true).
If you think of yourself as a product - what is your unique value to any dive center? Are you REALLY outgoing and vibrant? Are you technically minded? Can you websites? Do you have a safety background (Paramedic)?

3. As the internet has been a great resource tool, we found out we can bring our Dog, does anyone think this could be a dad idea?

Okay - this is a different issue. I would not recommend it. Your dog is not used to packs of wild street dogs. These dogs do and will kill each other. I am sure your dog wonderful and well behaved, but throughout Thailand the other dogs are very often (nearly) feral. This is especially true on Koh Tao. If you look to other places, thee may be places that you can safely have a dog without so much fear (Khao Lak, parts of Phuket)

4. We also have work as professionals in the food distribution industry and were thinking abut starting a little breakfast and lunch place. Would it be possible to start up and rent a property to begin? If so what kind of capitol would we need to get off the ground?

Now THIS is more interesting. This would appeal to many smart dive operators. (As a confession,we opened our own cafe this year). It would also be wise for you guys to do it. But please remember that in places like Koh Tao, where thousands (not joking) of other people have come to "become dive instructors" and ended up opening bars, clothes shop and cafes...it would be harder to compete.

In the end, I hope the above is not depressing. It is all possible. However, in my years of doing this - I think having passion and a large stubborn streak gets you further than anything else. Most people do this for a very short term solution and it is a very negative investment (spend WAY more on education, travel, equipment, useless certifications than receive in income). If you want to do this and hope to have some fun, do some good diving and hang out on beaches....then jump right in.

If not....
 

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@wicked-diving,

Thank you for the information! Trust me it goes a long way. When I had my holiday in February to Koh Tao it was almost like a scouting mission, so I understanding what you mean. For what you said, could be taken as discouraging to others but to me it is a challenge. I have too consult, market, and sell myself along with my companies products each and everyday. (work for Sysco foods) I work on commission so I have that hunger and knowledge to succeed. From what you are saying it seems to be a free for all so maybe I will just use my time as a sabbatical from my current life for a year or so. Who knows maybe I'll be the guy everyone wants to hire.

Thank you VERY much for the information about our dog. I spent all of my time in Chalok Baan Kao and became familiar with some of the local street dogs. It's funny our dog is boonie dog (jungle dog) from Guam but she is very much adapted to a domesticated life so I think leaving her home would be a good idea.

Thank you for sharing the information about opening a place. I did scout the island and I have some idea's about what might work very well on the island. Since this is what i do for a living I have faith I could bring something to the table to make the island a little more happy. Could you please share what kind of hurdles I would have to jump to do a start up. I have read about the scams involving restaurants and it is hard to sort out whether the people claiming to be scammed were just not ready to do what they did. What kind of legal work ie; permits, licensing etc will i need if any?

Again thank you for the information! If you are willing any other information would be super helpful and I am a firm believer of what goes around comes around.
 
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