Dorota Sierakowska: How did your diving adventure start? What fascinated you about this sport?
Honorata Kacprzak: I loved water sports since I was a child. It all started with swimming and learning about water rescue, then also sailing and kitesurfing. When I finally started diving at the age of 14, I immediately fell in love with this sport. I knew I would do it for the rest of my life. Moreover, right after starting my basic diving course, I started exploring the path to becoming a diving instructor!
What fascinated me in diving is not only the possibility to commune with nature and see beautiful animals in person, but also have the chance to forget about the everyday hustle. No one is in a rush underwater, there are peace and quiet around. To me, diving is a form of meditation.
DS: You are one of those people who turned their passion into a career. How did this transition look like?
HK: As I mentioned before, since I started diving, I knew I wanted to turn my passion into a full-time career. Slowly, but gradually, I had been taking steps in this direction. I participated in numerous courses, and I was spending every possible moment (and all my savings!) on diving trips and gaining experience. In 2012, I became a certified scuba diving instructor and started to train divers after hours of regular work in the corporation.
However, 15-hour workdays, combined with training trips almost every weekend, were physically exhausting. I had to decide which way to go. My job in a corporation paid really well, but to me, the choice was easy: I knew I needed to follow my heart. One day I just made a choice: I went to the office and gave my notice. This was when I became the co-owner of a diving center I worked in.
There wasn’t so far a single day in which I would have regretted this decision.
Honorata quickly fell in love with underwater world.
DS: What career opportunities are there for a diver?
HK: In many countries, including my native Poland, scuba diving is still considered a seasonal sport, and instructors treat their job as a side hustle. Fortunately, it has been changing over the last years. People travel more and want to explore fascinating diving sites all over the world.
Nevertheless, in general, wherever the summer is relatively short, diving instructors have less earning opportunities than in resorts in sunny, tropical countries. In some touristy spots, instructors dive several times a day with their customers.
Becoming a diving instructor is only one option, though. Organizing diving trips is a tempting alternative. Such a form of traveling is becoming more and more popular and gives fantastic opportunities to see different parts of the world.
I firmly believe that regardless of the chosen place, one principle works: If you love what you do, then you become the best at it, and the money follows. Following your passion isn’t as reckless as some people think.
DS: How much can you earn in this profession?
HK: This is a tough question because the salaries of diving instructors vary a lot. The actual earnings depend on a few factors such as the place and frequency of dives, the types of courses instructors run, the number and destinations of diving trips they organize, etc.
If an instructor chooses to work only a few hours a week (which is possible), they don’t earn much and they need additional sources of income. However, an instructor who owns a diving center, actively trains new divers, organizes events for companies, as well as diving trips (both domestic and international), and has a shop with equipment, can easily have repetitive five-figure months.
Earnings also depend on the specific destination. Small diving centers can’t offer large salaries, but large, well-known diving centers pay really well and cover accommodation expenses.
There are many career opportunities for divers.
DS: What do you like about your work the most? What are the biggest benefits of diving for a living?
HK: I absolutely love frequent diving trips!
The opportunity to visit new dive sites, as well as the smiles on my students’ faces, fill me up with joy and satisfaction. I love igniting the spark of passion in new divers.
DS: Professional divers usually travel a lot. Is there any dive site in the world that has made the greatest impact on you?
HK: My list is long! 😉 Every dive site is different and has its own specific charm. Moreover, even two dives at the same place can give us a completely different experience due to changing conditions.
Diving really is a sport for everyone. Many people love diving on the reef among the colorful animals, while others find wrecks more exciting. Some prefer to dive in caverns or in the waters with limited visibility.
Dive sites around the world offer various experiences and emotions, and this is why I find it exceptionally hard to identify just one or a few favorite ones. Sometimes I enjoy diving in shallow waters and admiring a beautiful reef; sometimes, I need a satisfying, deep decompression dive, and sometimes I prefer enthusiastic encounters with animals. It depends on my mood.
The sad part is that even though I dive so frequently and plan to dive my whole life, I won’t be able to see all the beautiful underwater places the world has to offer. After all, 70% of our planet is covered with water!
Wreck diving offers a unique experience.
DS: What are the biggest flaws and challenges related to your profession?
HK: Even a dream job has drawbacks. Diving instructors’ work is often associated with frequent tropical holidays and a carefree lifestyle. When it comes to scenery, it’s often true—but diving trips aren’t holidays at all. Instructors have significant responsibility for people they dive with, for the safety over and under water, and often the organization of a trip in general. It’s a 24-hour a day work.
DS: What characteristics should a professional diver or diving instructor have?
HK: There are absolutely no requirements as to the specific personality traits of the diving instructor. Obviously, they must love their work and be responsible—but the rest is flexible. Every instructor is different and has an individual style of teaching – and this variety is great for customers.
Each instructor has their individual style.
DS: How long does it take to learn to dive and feel confident underwater?
HK: Each of us has a different predisposition to diving. Some people feel confident from the very first dive, others need a lot of training to feel safe. It’s important to remember that the beginner course gives us only basic skills. If we want to really feel confident underwater, we should never stop learning.
DS: What are your dreams related to diving?
HK: I have so many dreams connected to diving that I can’t fit them in one answer! I’d like to dive everywhere in the world, but I know it’s impossible 🙂
More frequent dives with sharks and underwater visits to the islands of Socorro and Galapagos are among my biggest dreams.
Also, it would be great if everyone in the world had the opportunity to try this sport—so that they never have to regret that they missed a chance to explore 70% of our planet!
More frequent dives with sharks are among Honorata’s biggest dreams.