You want to scuba dive. After your breakfast, you are sitting on your office chair and turn on your computer. After a search process for a couple of minutes on Google, you realize that there are some scuba diving institutions like PADI, CMAS, SSI, NAUI, BISAC and such. Although you don’t know what they really are, you realize that there has to be an election among these. But according to what? What are the differences between them? And before anything else, what they really are?
First, relax. Take a cup of coffee and read the following dive agency article equably. If you have anything to ask, use the comment section at the bottom.
What Are Diver Certification Organizations?
They are the organizations that lay down scuba diving course standards. The majority of them are corporations, but there are also non-profit organizations like underwater federations.
CMAS*** is a confederation. So, it is a non-profit organization. Majority of the underwater federations of countries around the world form this confederation.
* PADI: Professional Association of Diving Instructors
** SSI: Scuba Schools International
*** CMAS: Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques – World Underwater Federation
What Are the Differences Between Dive Organizations (Agencies) ?
Consider these diver certification organizations like universities. Let’s take Stanford and Cambridge as an example. These universities are located in UK and US, having different lecturers, rectors and instruction structures. But they both have Electrical Engineering departments.
What are the differences between a Stanford and a Cambridge electrical engineering department graduate? They are both electrical engineers, but they have different diplomas.
The answer is the same with the diver certification organizations. All of them “craft” divers.
Core skills are almost the same for all dive agencies, but the training philosophy varies.
If a dive organization is a corporation, like PADI and SSI, it generally has more features to offer. They produce courses for children, more specialty programs and such.
Because the more they produce, more they earn. This is not something good or bad. A corporation should earn money to sustain.
This kind of dive agencies generally feature the “fun side” of diving.
One of the SSI mottos was “Serious Diving, Serious Fun.”
PADI always tell us that “Diving is Fun.”
I agree. Diving should be fun unless you are an underwater police or a commercial diver welding the oil platform in 100 meters everyday.
But scuba diving also requires severity and discipline ofcourse.
Non-profit scuba diving agencies like CMAS on the other hand are a little bit more on the “dive side” rather than the “fun side.” They are generally not customer-centered as much as the commercial ones.
Difference between a non-profit and a commercial dive agency is like the difference between a photography and scientific article blog. Non-profits give the information needed, commercials also do it but in an adorned way that makes the subject having more appeal.
There are also a mixture of non-profit and commercial type of approach. A good example can be NAUI*. It is a non-profit organization, but try to build a perception that scuba diving is an outdoor activity with a lot of fun but still has a tight form. NAUI is much like a synthesis of both.
Which Diver Certification Organization to Choose?
You know the differences now and your coffee is almost finished, so is mine. Let’s renew them.
Choosing a dive agency is generally made unconsciously. A diver candidate generally doesn’t even know what a dive agency is when he/she comes through a dive center door.
As an instructor, when I meet someone who wants to be a scuba diver, I realize that he/she doesn’t even know the existence of the dive agencies. And that’s normal. When we want something badly, we generally don’t search for it because we want the subject under any condition.
But because you reading this article, you want to be conscious and made a search about it.
Here are some helpful suggestions about choosing a diver certification organization. A dive agency should better:
- Be a member of RSTC (Recreational Scuba Training Council). RSTC is an organization that agrees with its world wide member about the minimum safety standards that have to be applied.
- Be a member EUF (European Underwater Federation). EUF is a non-profit company located in UK. Its mission is to sustain the quality and safety of the dive training. EUF certifies the dive agencies with deserved ISO standards. You can download the EUF brochure here.
- Be recognized around the Globe. The dive certification you get should not only be valid in your country. You may want to travel for diving. The most recognized ones are PADI, SSI, CMAS, NAUI and BSAC.
Instructor Does Matter!
Diver certification organization is important, yes. However, instructor that will teach you scuba diving and apply what the dive agency he/she is a member of says is also important.
If you want to learn scuba diving in a good way, dive center and instructor choice is vital (read: How to Start Scuba Diving).
How do you think a diver certification organization should be?
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