What Is The Most Popular Freediving Certification Agency?

One of the questions we get asked all the time is which of the number of Freediving Certification Agencies out there is the most popular.

We recently ran the a global visitor study (that is the largest we know of) via this website, FaceBook, Twitter and direct emails to our readers to gather some info on some of your freediving habits and two of the key questions we got answers to are – do you hold a freediving certification and if so which certification agency you hold a certification with.

The results are…

Do You Hold a Freediving Certification?

Do You Hold a Freediving CertificationNo real surprises there as, unlike Scuba Diving, there is no requirement to have a Qualification to go Freediving.

What Is The Most Popular Freediving Certification Agency?

Then to the main question – for the 37.7% that hold a Freediving Qualification, which agency are you certified with?

Most Popular Freediving Agency.002


The clear leader is AIDA International with 33.4% which is hardly surprising as they have had an education program since 1999.  The two big surprises are SSI (23.1%) and PADI (17.9%) – SSI is a relative newcomer to the Freediving education world however shows that there is a real possibility of coming into Freediving Education with a professional package targeted well at take market share.  PADI is also a surprise as it doesn’t have an official Freediving program however qualified instructors can create a Freediving Speciality Course or of course people can qualify in their Snorkelling Speciality.

CMAS and Apnea Academy are relatively localized European Freediving Agencies and although our survey had a global reach we mainly had English speaking respondents.  Feasibly we could expect a larger market share if the traditional strongholds of France and Italy (respectively) had been more involved in the survey.

F.I.I and Performance Freediving (PFI) are dominant in the US market but their low market share in our survey indicates the more global reach of other agencies.

IANTD is a legacy Freediving Certification (that doesn’t seem to even list Freediving as a speciality on it’s website) however experienced instructors can still be found all over the world.

What do you think of the results?  Let us know in the comments below or in our Forums.


  1. I’m surprised there were no Apnea Total certified divers there, there’s more than 10,000 of them out there.

  2. I’ve trained with both PFI and FII (and live near and still do train with Martin Stepanek), and I like them both equally.

  3. Could you please add some more information about the study itself?
    It would be very helpful to know how you did it.
    (How did you run it? Online? How did you select the participants? Where did the participants come from? How many participants did you question? …)

  4. To be clear (we’ve updated the text slightly above to reflect this) – this was a global reader study via this website, FaceBook, Twitter and direct email to our email subscribers.

  5. Almost off topic, but… would be also interesting to know the reasons why freedivers decide to get certified at all, and why have they chosen their specific agency.

    • i first learned freediving by myself,without buddy (without internet,it was the late 90s) it took me 2 or 3 years to freedive to 23m.(I am ashamed to say it was very unsafe, as i was alone ) After that I took a course and it took me to 32m and 4mn30 static within a few days.I realized then i could have learned as much in a beginner course than in my first years of isolated trials and errors.And more importantly i realized how important it is to always dive with a buddy.
      I agree you don’t have to get certified ,but it is just a safer and faster way to progress.
      If you can not go to a place like Dahab where you meet a lot of freedivers who are happy to give advice,you can try to learn just from reading forums ,but the right information is often hidden in the middle of a lot of b.s..To dig the right information in forums is energy and time consuming.Better learn the important stuff about safety ,physiology,physics of diving ,rescue,training concepts,frc,mouthfill training ,co2 tolerance etc trough courses ,and after that dig in forums to discuss with other freedivers of specific training methods ,pros and cons of cardio training,pros and cons of “no warm up” etc etc

  6. What matters most is that their trainers are all trained to the most elevated degree through PFI’s instructor program. It’s the first stage in advancing the abilities and security methodology that will get you off the surface and into the depths and it’s a must to find institutions that that will give you the right knowledge for this.

  7. Thanks Stephan very informative indeed, SSI #2 is quite impressive. Knowing that Mares just bought them it would be nice to see more exciting Freediving product from the Italian firm hint hint… ;). PADI at #3, I can’t quite wrap my head around it.

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