Is scuba diving something you’ve dreamed of, but don’t know where to start? Are you a diving enthusiast wanting to take your skills to the next level? Maybe, it’s been a while since you disappeared off to an underwater world, and could do with a bit of a safe diving refresher? Then this blog is just for you! As an experienced diver myself, I’m often asked where to find the best diver training and who the main dive certification agencies are.
So, read on if you are teetering on the edge, or hoping to expand your knowledge enough to potentially make a career out of your passion for diving.
Before you know it, you could be out there finding all sorts of hidden treasures, enjoying the experience as an entire family, instead of being the one left holding the bags on the beach.
It can even turn into a full-time job, here in the UK or off foreign shores, if your dreams stretch that far.
Having dived for many years and catering for my customers’ underwater vision challenges all day long here at Dive Sight, I can tell you, there is so much more to learning to dive than you might think.
Any Dive Instructor goes through weeks and weeks, if not more, of rigorous training. They need to be competent not only keeping themselves safe at all depths underwater, but also be able to spot signs of danger and panic, or an emergency with breathing equipment, in their groups. Something you need to learn about too, to keep you and your dive buddy safe, as well as the technicalities of the equipment.
So, by learning to dive with one of the main five dive certification agencies, you are guaranteed training of the highest standard, covering safety, technical, and practical information you need to truly enjoy a whole lifetime of diving ahead of you.
It’s exciting and very achievable once you find the right place to learn.
Although the basic diving skills are the same at entry level, dive certification agencies may then offer slightly different teaching styles and formats, depending on their procedures and students’ requirements.
I’ll start with PADI, who offer training for a more recreational diver.
PADI is the most recognised of the dive certification agencies and worldwide dive training organisations, having signed off over 60 million diving certificates. This makes it the largest training agency in the world, certifying 78% of all divers.
Their trademark The Way the World Learns to Dive® begins often with a ‘Discover Scuba Diving’ half-day diving experience. This doesn’t lead to a dive certification, but it allows you to test the waters, so to speak, in a pool or safe pool-like environment. There is an option of an open water dive too if you want to move straight on.
The PADI Open Water Diver certification, though, takes you on a bigger journey, and allows you to dive anywhere in the world. Three options are available for you to work towards your scuba diving certificate:
There are some great deals by combining your scuba diving course with one of the 500 PADI worldwide resorts. Check them out when we’re safe to travel again.
And it’s not just for adults.
PADI also cater for the children with their Bubblemaker or Seal Team classes. From eight years up, there’s nothing stopping them from joining in. A great way to start, and in either a pool or other confined water area, they’re bound to have fun, and you can relax knowing they’re safe!
And the over 10s can go all out for the Open Water Diver course and earn the Junior Open Water Diver certificate. What’s not to love?!
SSI is another of the globally recognised dive certification agencies, offering recreational dive training, along with technical training, for over 45 years.
Personalised diver training is based on their Diver Diamond Methodology, focusing on knowledge, skills, equipment, and experience. And with a unique approach of ‘Comfort through Repetition’ you can be assured of heaps of hands-on practice to hone your hobby!
Once you have graduated with your Open Water Diver certificate, you can dive anywhere around the world. Or choose to go on to wreck diving, free diving, deep diving and you can even become an SSI Ocean Mermaid!
And with the My SSI App you’ll receive digital training materials, online dive log, and your certificates will be uploaded once you qualify.
There’s plenty of scope if you want to check out SSI as an option.
NAUI have been training ‘the best divers in the world’ since 1960. With their motto of ‘Dive Safety Through Education’ you can see why they’re not only one of the most popular, but they’re also the leaders amongst non-for-profit dive certification agencies.
If NAUI is the training agency you choose, rest assured you will be super safe. Their leaders must meet specific standards, and all training is based around the concept, of “Would I allow this person to teach, or dive, with someone I love?”
NAUI courses cater for all levels, so whether you are a first timer or an experienced diving enthusiast, you can always increase your skills and ability to become a more secure and independent diver. You might even consider progressing to making diving your career - search and rescue diving, or specialist underwater jobs, such as ecology or archaeology.
And as possibly one of the most flexible of the dive certification agencies, NAUI offer other training programmes specific to their students’ needs – from night diving, deep diving, cave diving, and ice diving
Your choice of dive certification agencies really depends on what you want to get out of your diver training. And next on our list of the main five, is the BSAC.
From a complete novice to an experienced diver, BSAC literally have a raft of Internationally recognised training standards on offer.
You start with Ocean Diver for entry level, core skills, taking you to a maximum depth of 20 metres in open water, both in the UK and abroad; then Sports Diver which covers more challenging open-water skills, to 35 metres; Dive Leader training is available if you want to further progress in both skills and technical techniques, as well as being able to lead your own dives; and the highest standard of certification is First Class Diver.
Along with more than 30 Skill Development Courses (SDCs) BSAC instructors encourage your training to be taken at your own pace. Which is why, if you don’t cope with time restrictions or pressure of learning too much at once, then holiday diving courses aren’t for you.
The best way to start is by finding your local BSAC Club to give it a try if you’re not 100% sure.
And last, but by no means least, is SDI. Possibly one of the most innovative and modern of the dive certification agencies, offering entry level to advanced dive training since opening their hatches in 1998.
Known for their ‘no nonsense’ approach to diving instruction, SDI know how quickly diving changes and progresses with the times. So, their dive training includes the most modern learning materials with awesome photography and graphics, really enhancing your learning experience
SDI focus on making diving a true family experience, so their training goes through from the Open Water Diving certificate, Advanced Diver, Rescue Diver, Master Diver and SDI Dive Master – you really can stretch your skills and experience with SDI. And if you want to share your love for the diving experience with others, the final stage for you could be SDI Instructor Trainer.
Of course, you should also remember that water is one of the greatest body, mind, health, and fitness tools we have access to.
Your life will be truly enhanced whether you take up diving as a hobby, sport or on a more professional level. And it’s open to everyone (provided you can swim to a basic level), even if you have mental or physical disabilities or eyesight problems.
No matter where you learn to dive, or step up to the next level, with all the dive certification agencies I’ve mentioned, you can be certain your safety, underwater knowledge and skills, and your overall diving experience are at the heart of what they teach. So, once you’ve decided to take the plunge, call Dive Sight for any help you need with underwater vision. With a personalised prescription dive mask, we’ll make sure you don’t miss a thing!