Before you go scuba diving which organization should you choose?

To many people this might seem like easy decision but for first time scuba divers you might be overwhelmed with all the different organizations or agencies out there. There are more than 50 different organizations with mostly similar standards. 

I must point out that as a recreational scuba diver this decision should be really easy because all scuba diving agencies recognize each other, which means even if you have a PADI open water certification you can still scuba diving with a SSI instructor.  I must note that this is a little different when it comes to technical diving.

However, choosing an organization should be more considered when you become a professional scuba diver. Why, as I said before scuba diver agencies recognize each other right? Well yes it is true for fun dives, however a PADI Open Water Instructor cannot teach another organization like an SSI Open Water Course.


So to summarize:

Recreational Scuba Divers can dive all over the world with different organization instructors or guides. There are no right or wrong choices, but feel comfortable with the instructor who will teach you. 

Professional Scuba Divers can only teach the organization they are signed up too. So if you decide to become an instructor choose carefully.

What Are The Top 5 Organizations?

1. PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), founded in 1966 in Illinois
  • Padi is the largest diving certification and training organization in the world.
  • Padi was one of the first organizations to offer part of the training from online media or DVD.
  • Overall a diver will be trained the same way anywhere in the world due to the strong standards with little to no freedom of changes.
  • Teaching materials are important and available in 26 languages.
  • Each candidate diver is obliged to purchase the training kit of their level.
2. SSI (Scuba Schools International), founded in 1970 in Colorado
  • SSI offers the same standardized training similar to PADI, the same everywhere in the world.
  • Each diver candidate can purchase the training materials for their level but are not obliged too. 
  • SSI has a large library of educational media available in different languages. 
  • Some SSI courses are free which is help convince a candidate to continue their training with SSI
  • Like PADI, SSI offer many specialty course to help educate divers to a higher level.
3. NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors), founded in 1959 in California
  • NAUI can be considered as a non-profit association, however, it has been evolving towards a more commercial activity. 
  • An instructor is independent but can be attached to a school or dive shop.
  • NAUI courses respect the standard and procedure but has some pedagogical freedom to be inspired by sources other than NAUI to enrich and diversity the training.
  • The training materials are mainly in English.
  • Again like other organizations standards are the same across the world.
4. CMAS (World Confederation of Underwater Activities), created in 1959 in Italy
  • CMAS is a non-profit and global organization, however, its roots lie in western Europe.
  • Although CMAS being a non-profit, the training is not free. Often the instructors are volunteers and certify through their diving club that is a member of a local federation. 
  • Each country has its own federation, FFESSM in France, FCAS in Cuba etc.
  • Certification cards have 2 sides, one side is the level and the other is the information specific to local federations. 
  • Each federation has mostly its own teaching material which can be very different from one federation to another.
5. RAID (Rebreather Association of International Divers), founded in 2007 in Sweden
  • RAID was originally developed for rebreathers, however, they are now the worlds fastest growing organization for recreational and technical levels.
  • RAID differs from the rest of the industry by having comprehensive online training system.
  • RAID has over 60 online programs with a no classroom approach with online training with no paper, books or plastic to have zero impact on the environment.
  • As per the rest of the organizations standards are the same across the world.

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About The Author

Anthony Laverty

Anthony Laverty

Anthony is a professional scuba diver, company owner and blogger. He has spent the last 10 years travelling around the world collecting stories and diving new locations.


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