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Marine Conservation Philippines

Marine Conservation Philippines (MCP) a registered non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to preserving and protecting coastal resources in the Philippines through education, volunteerism and research.

About Marine


Using science to understand how local and global pressures affect marine ecosystems, we empower, engage, and build local and national capacity to reduce and adapt to these pressures, aiming for a sustainable future for the Philippine people and environment.


The world around us is changing and marine ecosystems are in more peril than ever before. Realizing this urgency, we bring people with diverse backgrounds and skills together to build financial, social and scientific capacity to respond to unprecedented threats to food security, societal stability and ocean health. We believe it is our collective responsibility to act and affect meaningful change, and that it is only through the choices we make and in how we influence others that we can ensure the world we are building will continue to include thriving and life-supporting marine ecosystems. To realize this vision we will tirelessly work to educate the public and influential decision makers to recognize the immeasurable value of the marine ecosystem, vastly improving the societal and natural environment of the Philippines, now and in the future.

Why do your Divemaster Course with MCP?

If you consider doing your divemaster training with us, there’s a number of things we must advise you on. For a start all of our diving programs are keyed into or influenced by our conservation efforts. In our introduction course, the PADI open water, we incorporate a lot more buoyancy work to make sure our volunteers actually have the skills required to do the conservation and surveying work. Most initial diver training, whether it’s PADI or another training organisation aims to make new divers safe, and reasonably proficient – we have much higher aspirations and do extended training and pad the courses with extra dives.

This principle very much goes for the divemaster education as well. The dives and logistics you will be in charge of will be fellow conservationists and scientific divers in training, not typical dive tourists. Our operation runs a lot more flexible than that of a typical dive center – we generally do not the have tight schedules to follow typical to recreational diving (but usually hidden to the dive customer) and it is important to take the time to do things right for our scientific purposes.

This means that in some ways a divemaster internship with us is going to be ery different to that of a dive shop. There are of course certain things that you will need to do during the divemaster program, in follow the PADI standards of the program – but most of the training, dives and work will be at a somewhat advanced or different stage, that that of a typical dive center. This will give you hands on experience with conservation work and you’ll learn a lot of marine science.

What you will NOT do, is dealing with regular walk-in-customers, or taking tourists on guided dives. The diving we undertake is different, and it’s something that’s important for us to stress to you, as you’d be disappointed if you expect the DM training to reflect the reality of most typical dive centers. It’s important for us to clarify, and it’s an important distinction to keep in mind if you plan on working in recreational diving in a casual diveshop after your divemaster program, because you’ll probably be used to standards being a little more “hardcore.” if you’ve done your training with us.

I choose to take my Divemaster at Marine Conservation Philippines because it gives the opputunity to do really interesting inviromental work, while taking dive courses. It is a perfect blend of diving, conservation and social life where you meet a lot of passionate divers and a knowledgable staff that provides superb guiding related to professional diving. MCP makes it possible to work real scientific surveys and to teach the local communnity about diving, while getting really fine polished dive skills.
Kevin Holm
After completing my Advanced Open Water with Marine Conservation Philippines, I knew whenever I would do my DIvemaster Training, i would definitely do it with MCP. And here I am, back at the base studying for my DM exam. Over the past few weeks, I have learned a whole lot about what it means to be a professional but also how to be the most environmentally aware and a zero impact diver. MCP has taught me so much more then just the regular PADI Pro knowledge.
Nina Giordano
Becoming a dive master and being involved in marine conservation were two things I wanted when I decided to become a diver. Marine Conservation Philippines was the first NGO I came across and I was impressed with all the information on the web page, all the great things they have accomplished since their origin, and the training they offer to all divers no matter the level. Now I'm here doing my DMT and was never happier about a decision I made.
Stevie B. Gyori Hakyo

How long does it take to become a Divemaster?

Because of the check-list format of the divemaster course (once you’ve done something sufficiently well, you can tick it off – same as with any PADI course) It’s possible to complete the course in as little as two to three weeks. While this may technically be possible while still adhering to PADI standards, we feel the rather grandiose title of divemaster would be somewhat misplaced. While you can certainly improve tremendously as a diver, and you can learn to perform skills to demonstration standard in two weeks, you’ll not develop any real mastery of diving. In order to become a proficient divemaster, you have to be experienced with many different kinds of conditions, deep dives, night dives, drift diving, various boats and beach entries, different kinds of equipment setup, various equipment failures, diver psychology and much much more. In our opinion anything shorter than a month or two (at the bare minimum) doesn’t make any sense. That’s just being honest. Some people do the course just to gain experience, to dive lots and improve their personal dive skills, without ever contemplating actually working professionally with scuba diving. We won’t mind teaching you in this case – those ambitions are just as valid as any other, but we won’t teach short courses. 

Unlike many commercial PADI shops who do short divemaster courses, we ask volunteers to stay two months. (You are of course very welcome to stay longer, and we’d dearly like your help with our conservation efforts with the experience you’ll have as a DM) This length of time is long enough that prospective divemaster get enough experience and training while with us, but also gives you a little safety buffer in case you suffer an ear infection or some other trivial thing prevents you from diving for a week.

Weeks Minimum stay

If you arrive as a non-diver you will need 4 weeks for initial training (OW, AOW, Rescue, EFR) and building experience of doing at least 40 dives. Then you are ready for the 8 weeks on the actual divemaster course.

Pieces of plastic

By organizing weekly cleanup events, MCP divers and community groups remove an average of 10.000 pieces of plastic garbage from the sea.  Every. Single. Month. 


Annually, MCP research and conservation teams do close to a thousand mission dives, to monitor health of coral reefs, remove ghost nets, clear litter or aid authorities with MPA infrastructure. 

Years of dive experience

Our Instructors have been diving and teaching for many years.  Most are seasoned veterans and technical divers. They’re always happy to share their knowledge with you.

Years of Conservation

Since MCP was founded in 2015, we’ve always been working together with the local community. We use scuba diving as a tool to conduct underwater scientific work. 

Divemaster Program FAQ

As with most things in life, there always a few little things that come to mind when reading through lots of information. Below are a few of the most frequently asked questions that we get from our prospective Pro Level Internship candidates.

Staying with us, and by helping doing the work we do, you will have opportunities to learn a lot of ecology and marine biology that’s falls way outside the normal scope of divemaster training. You’ll also take part in any number of activities, ranging from communicative assignments such as teaching to practical conservation work such as planting mangroves, doing underwater construction work, mapping submerged areas or any number of other skills, that you won’t learn anywhere else. What exactly these things are changes from time to time, depending on what our ongoing project needs are. What is important to understand is that we’re a working environmental organisation, and when you are not on dedicated divemaster training, you will be part of our teams.

Strictly diving related, you’ll learn to be a very capable diver with excellent buoyancy and trim, ready for advanced scientific work and technical diving. We dive exclusively in technical backplate/wing setups, and while with us you can learn how to do advanced dive planning, service scuba equipment, dive with stage tanks, get involved with technical diving and much more. All of this requires time, but by the time you finish your training you will have technical diver skills and be able to do helicopter turns, back kicks and be comfortable with different finning techniques. You’ll also be able to complete difficult tasks while maintaining perfect buoyancy control and trim, and your underwater problem solving skills will be second to none. To be very precise – we are happy to teach you far beyond the minimum you need to merely pass, and we are sure we teach to a higher dive skill standard that any recreational diveshop you can find. This too explains why our courses are as long as they are.

Yes, but not with MCP.  Once you get a divemaster certification you have a professional license to work in the field as a professional diver in charge of the safety of others. That’s not something to take too light hearted, honestly. The other reason we insist on taking two month is so that you also may get time to experience working in conservation. This is good for you, but it also justifies all the additional effort our instructors will put into your training. If you want to fast track your education and are willing to put in the hard work in an intense program, you can shave off a few weeks at Bongo Bongo.

Because of the scientific nature of our work, we neither want nor expect our divemaster candidates to do any marketing or recruiting of divers. As a divemaster candidate you will not be walking beaches to hand out brochures, or sit outside trying to persuade passers by to try diving. The typical ways divemaster candidates repay free internships do simply not apply to us. We are not a recreational dive shop, and are in absolutely no competition against any such establishments. Doing divemaster training with us is very, very dissimilar.

Our organisation mostly attract volunteers who are already divers; many of whom are very capable and experienced. The kind of diving we do is almost exclusively work or mission-oriented. “Guides” just aren’t needed, nor do our divers need anyone to help them with gear or other mundane tasks. Volunteers are fully expected to wash their own scuba gear, carry their tanks and plan their dives. All the work that you could possibly do to repay for training in a diveshop that offers “free internship” is either not needed, or someone is already doing it at part of their own duties. So basically, no, we do not offer free internships.

Please be aware the reason some dive shops offer free internships isn’t altruism. Trainees repay their training with their work. This can be a fair deal if you pay back by guiding divers or doing boat briefings and you want to work in the recreational scuba industry as a divemaster. In such a case all your efforts becomes part of the learning process – And although you are actually working for free, it’s all part of the learning process. Regrettably, often, it’s disguised exploitation if the work you will repay with is by sweeping floors and recruiting divers, cleaning bungalows, doing bar tending in a resort or other mundane tasks that’s not helping you become a professional diver. There are many thinly disguised “free internships” out there that are just cheap labour.

Often the biggest expense when doing prolonged professional diver training abroad isn’t the actual training itself, but rather the basic cost of living while doing it – meals and accommodation really start adding up over several months. Due to our remote location, at Marine Conservation Philippines all of this is necessarily included as part of the volunteer package. Additionally, to make fair comparisons it’s a good idea to look at the hidden fees – often cost of scuba gear rental, marine parks fees etc. are not included in quoted prices. Everything considered, in our experience doing divemaster training with Marine Conservation Philippines is generally similarly priced or cheaper that doing a similar length program elsewhere. The experience is very dissimilar however, but only you can determine if that is a good or bad thing for you.

How long you want to stay and spend on doing your DM-training depends on yourself and how much you’d want to get out of your training – Taking longer will make you better of course.Besides the cost of your manuals and materials, the cost of doing the divemaster training is the same as regular volunteers pay, so 450 USD weekly multiplied by number of weeks, which covers three daily meals, accommodation, all diving, gear rental, transportation, marine park fees, free tea and coffee, airport pickup etc.

Financially an eight week divemaster program could look
something like this:

8 weeks accommodation, food, diving, gear rental, tuition:
8 x 450 USD = 3600 USD
Divemaster crewpack (manual and materials) 200 USD
PADI application fee (Paid directly to PADI, not MCP) 120 USD

A typical twelve week divemaster program for a candidate with no prior scuba dive experience could look like this:

12 weeks accommodation, food, diving, gear rental, tuition:
12 x 450 USD = 5400 USD
Open Water Course 85 USD
Advanced Open Water Course 85 USD
Rescue Diver Course 85 USD
EFR – first aid course 65 USD
Divemaster crewpack (manual and materials) 200 USD
PADI application fee (Paid directly to PADI, not MCP) 120 USD

Many divemaster candidates additionally do the enriched air nitrox specialty (65 USD) and/or the self-reliant diver course. (50 USD).

MCP does offer instructor internships. These vary a lot in the exact make-up and duration, but a fairly common option is to progress from the divemaster training straight into the instructor course, after which you can intern as an instructor.

Others arrive already being divemasters, and just need to do the instructor course. Do however please keep in mind that we’re a working environmental organisation. We have a genuine wish that you excel as an instructor, and that you get a chance to learn in the particular environment of an environmental organisation. As such our instructor internship spots are limited to one or two at time. We can however sort you out with a placement in a recreational diveshop, should you wish so.