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  • Writer's pictureTeam OTC

Let us help you sail a different course!

Have you ever thought I would love to be paid to be on the water all day? The watersports industry has seen dramatic changes over the past decade, which means there is a huge demand for watersports instructors and the offer of rewarding long-term career paths. You maybe looking to stay within the UK or spreading your wings to warmer climes! Today we speak to James Hardy who has carved out a hugely successful career as a watersports instructor, he talks about what it takes to make it. If you would prefer the neoprene suit rather than the wool one then this is the blog for you.


The journey to your dream job starts by gaining RYA qualifications on a watersports instructor course. These qualifications demonstrate you have the ability, experience and competence to teach watersports. The RYA standard is internationally known and it is always a prerequisite of any watersports job application. Here at The Official Test Centre you can start that journey with us, we run a number of different courses for all levels and all abilities. Let us help you sail a different course.


By Emma Nicholson.

I started off asking James what personality traits make a good instructor, he said: "Keen, determined, passionate and enthusiastic, for me the biggest one is enthusiasim. Being enthusiastic and really loving your sport takes you a long way as an instructor."


"Everyday is a learning day. Jump at opportunities that come your way. You won’t regret it!"

When you qualify as a watersports instructor it’s possible to work in a wide variety of stunning locations around the world, I asked James has he worked anywhere exotic? He said: "I actually haven’t, something for the coming years though, I’ve always remained in the UK. I do however get to go and work in some pretty amazing places within the UK. hot, sunny and exotic places are definitely a perk of the career though and something to take advantage of as it can take you anywhere."


"Go for it and soak up as much wisdom, advice and knowledge you can. Everyday is a learning day."

I asked James what would he say are the key skills for a career in watersports? James said: "Good verbal communication skills and getting on well with others. Passion for watersports, using initiative and working well in a team. Having good soft skills is a really key ingredient. You don’t have to be the best windsurfer, winger or sailor in the world, but if you can be enthusiastic and communicate to a variety of people then you are on to a winner."


"Its like you are developing people, but through sport it's great."

Would James say training to become a watersports instructor is a great alternative to university? He said: "If you have a passion for watersports, it's the best alternative, it's a no brainier really. I didn’t go to University and did exactly that. I went and got some basic qualifications to get me started in the industry, so come summer I was ready to work and spread the watersports hype!"


"A long term career in the industry is there if you want it to be."

James added: "As an instructor you can build a long-term career in the industry. Or move into similar areas such as managing watersports activities. I know it’s sometimes seen as a summer job/stop gap between university and that's completely cool, but there is a genuine career path if you want it.


"There are plenty of avenues of being an instructor in the watersports industry, from managing centres, outdoor education within schools, performance coaching, roles within the RYA, instructor training & development, video & photography, holidays, retail, watersports product design, the list is endless!


"I bet if you spoke to anyone in those current jobs now, I would bet they started off in the industry as an instructor at a centre or club near them. So a long-term career in the industry is there if you want it to be."


"Being multi-qualified does make you more versatile to an employer."

Does James think training in multiple disciplines is a good idea? He said: "I would recommend it yes, but don’t just go and grab every qualification out there. Always start with the one you are most passionate about and then look at others as they become more of interest.


"Being multi-qualified does make you more versatile to an employer, but it also gives you variety and keeps things fresh through your instructor career."

What would James say are the rewards of being an instructor? He said: "Oh the list is endless, but knowing that everyday you have are giving a group or an individual weather that be kids or adults a great time on the water and increased their own enjoyment or confidence through sport! And all whilst having a fab old time yourself, what more do you want!"

What advice would James give to someone just dipping their toe in the water and setting out on their RYA journey? He said: "Go for it and soak up as much wisdom, advice and knowledge you can. Everyday is a learning day. Jump at opportunities that come your way. You won’t regret it!"

I asked James, as an instructor you aren’t just developing peoples abilities in the sport or activity, you are also developing their confidence to do the sport, this must be so rewarding? James said: "This is the most rewarding thing about being an instructor. Its like you are developing people, but through sport it's great."

Does James feel lucky to earn money doing what he loves? James said: "I feel incredibly lucky to earn money and make a living from doing what I love everyday. You will get told this a lot by people. You're unlikely to became a millionaire, but the lifestyle you lead, the people you meet, and places you have the opportunity to work are amazing and different from most careers out there. It's a career that you shouldn’t over look and if you are thinking about it, just do it, jump on an instructor course to get you started and see where the journey takes you."

Call The Official Test Centre on 07817 717904 to find the right RYA qualifications for you and let us help you sail a different course!

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