We already know that we will need to get a diving certification to take part in some trips and diving activities because the diving centers will ask us about our experience and for some specific certifications.
There are a lot of certification agencies, but the most extended in the World is PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) with more than half a million diving certification each year.
Established in 1966, PADI is the biggest association of diving professionals in the World with over 100,000 professionals and more than 6,000 associated diving centers and resorts. The main characteristic of the PADI certification system is that they broke in different levels the previous single universal training process. The aim is to systematically develop and improve the diver’s skills and experience.
PADI certification system
Starting from zero as an absolute beginner, we can become a professional diver or a diving instruction following the path established by the PADI certification system. Every course and level requires some effort to read the books (or e-books in a modern online learning system) sometimes complemented with the viewing of a few videos, practice and demonstrate some skills in confined and/or open water environment and, usually, a knowledge assessment in form of a test or completing the knowledge review of each chapter of the course manual.
But don’t be scary about going back to school. We’ll go through all this process accompanied and supervised by PADI certified instructor, who will be more a mentor than an examiner.
The basic steps of the PADI certification system are 7.
Open Water Diver: it’s the starting level that will allow us to dive without direct professional supervision. We’ll learn the basic skills and after get the certification we’ll be qualified to dive to moderate depths and always with good conditions.
Advanced Open Water Diver: after get our Open Water certification, we will get in touch with some diving adventures such as deep dive, navigation or search and recovery (some of them are just an introductory level of the PADI Specialty Dive courses). Once we complete 5 Adventure Dives we’ll become Advanced Open Water Diver. There are two required dives: deep and navigation.
Rescue Diver: we’ll learn about rescue skills and accident management abilities and expand the self rescue and accident prevention skills already acquired in previous courses. This is the most challenging and rewarding course. To enroll in this course you need to have Emergency First Response Primary and Secondary Care (CPR and First Aid) training within the past 2 years.
Specialty Diver Courses: related to specific skills, activities or environment courses. Some examples are Wreck Diver, Deep Diver, Enriched Air Diver or Night Diver. To check a complete list of courses please visit www.padi.com
Master Scuba Diver: after finish our Rescue Diver course, complete 5 Specialty courses and with almost 50 dives logged we’ll qualify for Master Scuba Diving. This is the last level in recreational diving and the previous step to become a professional scuba diver.
Divemaster: this is the first level of professional training and we’ll qualify to supervise some activities and assist an instructor in training courses. It is a comprehensive program where we will further fine-tune our diving skills and learn about supervision, management and dive knowledge. To earn the certification we’ll need almost 60 logged dives at the end of the course.
Open Waters Scuba Instructor: this final step is divided in two levels. The first is the Instructor Development Course (IDC) and it is sub-divided in another two phases: the Assistant Instructor (AI) course (which completion will qualifies us as PADI Assistant Instructor) and the Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI) program. The final level is the two day Instructor Examination.
There are some other PADI certification levels, basically related to young learners, technical diving and teaching instructor training. Related to recreational scuba diving, the certifications are:
- Junior Open Water Diver (minimum 10 years) and Junior Advanced Open Water (minimum 12 years) are the same as adult versions with the only difference that they require diving with adult supervision and have some additional limits until they’ll be 15 years old.
- Seal Team and Bubblemaker are introduction to scuba diving for child of 8 years or older.
In future post we’ll write about other certification agencies (such as SSI or NAUI).