There are many scuba agencies in the world. Almost all of them have high standards of training and provide comprehensive diver training. Does it matter which one trains you?
All certification agencies in the world meet the same minimum standard for open water scuba instruction (the first level of certification). All open water courses include a syllabus of diving theory (physics, physiology, and so on) and practical skills. Classroom or homework supports the student whether a rookie or experienced diver who is looking for more. IANTD requires 12 hours for open water and 16 hours for open water nitrox classroom sessions. IDEA requires minimum 24 hours. NAUI requires 14 hours. YMCA requires 12 hours of instruction. PDIC and SSI require 6 sessions. NASE and PADI require 5 sessions. Both PADI and SSI follow the national training standards; there is no significant difference between them. NAUI, PADI, SSI, and others teach the basics very well, and all are extremely safety conscious.
Almost all agencies require pool sessions before going to open water. Let’s look at open water dive requirements. IANTD requires four to six for open water diver certification; five for open water nitrox, two of which must be nitrox dives. CMAS, IDEA, NASE, and PADI necessitate 4 open water dives. NAUI, PDIC, SDI, and YMCA require 4 open water and 1 skin dive. Only SSI requires 5 open water and 1 skin dive.
Some agencies allow that the number of lecture hours and pool sessions are given at the instructor’s discretion. Also, it is not uncommon to see some instructors exceed an agency’s minimum standards. The standards also specify age and health minimums for all students.
However, it’s the instructor who makes the difference, not the agency’s standards. Most agencies survey students who got certified. Students are asked if training standards were met or not. Students are also welcome to add comments. For example, PDIC sends a postage-paid questionnaire to all students allowing for instructor evaluation without any bias and NAUI provide a form in their education materials. With these forms, training agencies not only control their instructors with quality assurance programs, but also get a better picture of how to do better marketing.
Statistics indicates a strong correlation between dive accidents and lack of experience, but not correlation between accidents and origin of the certification. So does it matter which agency trains you? No! The bottom line is, it’s the instructor who makes the difference, not the agency. So, your mission is to seek an experienced instructor.
There are many very good and reputable dive-training agencies. Most if not all are listed below:
ANDI American Nitrox Divers International
BSAC The British Sub-Aqua Club
British Sub Aqua Association
CMAS Confederation Mondiale des Activites Subaquatiques (World Underwater Federation)
DAN Diver’s Alert Network
HSA Handicapped Scuba Association International
– International Association for Handicapped Divers
IANTD International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers, Inc.
IDEA – International Diving Educators Association
NASE National Academy of Scuba Educators
NAUI National Association of Underwater Instructors??
NOAA National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
PADI Professional Association of Dive
PDIC Professional Diving Instructors
– Professional Scuba Association
SSI Scuba Schools International
TDI Technical Diving International
Young Men’s Christian Association National SCUBA Program
Agencies change/modify their standards from time to time.?? One should contact agencies for updates. This article is not influenced by bias. Thus, this article’s goal is to inform new and experienced divers, and not to defame and cause unfair competition.