Line Pulls from CDA
Line Pulls from CDA
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A Day in the Life of a Commercial Diving Instructor
“I give them their very first dive and it’s like Christmas morning. I take their helmet off and they’re like, ‘Whoa!’ You can see it on their face. It makes a difference. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. And I often tell them, ‘I started the same place you did.’ And that’s because I did. When I got into diving I didn’t know how to change the oil in my car and I made it all the way up to SAT diver which is about as high a diver as you can go -- all because I was good at listening.”
-- Mike Barron, CDA Technical Institute instructor with over 26 years experience in the field
If you think instructors have it easy and that students are expected to wake up earlier, stay later, and work harder -- you’ll be sorely mistaken at CDA Technical Institute.
“My average day? I get here about six in the morning and do a pre-dive check on the dock stations because the freshmen don’t do that yet,” said Mike Barron, who had 26 years of experience in the field as an inland and offshore commercial diver across North America before becoming an instructor at CDA Technical Institute. “After that we’ll have breakfast and then morning formation. Then we go out on the dive station and I make sure to do my safety checkups and analysis. You don’t just do that in school, you do that in the real world too every time you put a diver in the water.”
Divers are in the water around eight and it’s drills around the clock all morning.
“I usually get two groups of divers in the water before lunch and two after lunch,” Barron said. “My stations average about 75 minutes per dive.”
The reason for the quick pace and the long days is to allow students as much time in the water as possible. CDA Technical Institute boasts a minimum of 3,000 minutes in the water upon graduation. That’s one of the highest in the country and ensures that students have as much experience and education as they can once they go out into the field.
“The first week they’re in the pool so they’ll get about 150 minutes in the pool every day,” Barron said. “The next week is about 180 minutes a day. And then the following week they’ll dive with me in the river on their very first river dive and then they’ll probably get 60 to 90 minutes in there.”
Mike is the first instructor many students see as they learn basic safety, figure out how to put their gear together, go on their first dives, and chart their sessions.
But Mike is also often the last instructor students see. That’s because Mike, along with all the instructors at CDA Technical Institute, see their role as someone who is preparing them for the real world -- not simply getting them to graduation.
“I think as instructors, we help them start finding a job from Day 1,” Barron said. “That’s not a requirement, but I want to be preparing the students from the day they get here. You help them understand how to get a job in commercial diving.”
And nothing makes Mike happier than when students want to stay in contact, because he knows it means the investment has paid off.
“As soon as they start looking they’ll find a job,” Barron said. “I stay in touch with a lot of students. I often call my students my children and I don’t mean that disrespectfully. By the time they leave here I know their names, I usually know their wives’ or kids’ names. There’s a buy-in there, there’s a synergy. They’ll tell me ‘I just got this job at so-and-so or I just spent 60 days offshore.’”
Mike takes a deep breath and smiles.
“And it feels good.”
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