What is the Best Scuba Certification?

What is the Best Scuba Certification?

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever”

Jacques Cousteau

5 Top Scuba Diving Certifications

The following are the top certifications in the world.

  1. PADI – Professional Association of Diving Instructors
  2. SSI — Scuba Schools International
  3. NAUI — The National Association of Underwater Instructors
  4. BSAC– The British Sub Aqua Club
  5. SDI — Scuba Diving International

In my opinion, PADI is the best and most popular, so we’re going to focus on them.

First off, let’s check out the 2 top benefits that come with being certified.

2 Top Benefits of Being a Certified Diver

We could dive jump straight in, touch on a few top certifications, and then focus on the best.

But you might have wondered a couple of times in the past: is it illegal to dive without being certified? And what are the major benefits of getting certified?

The best divers take the time to get trained before they take the plunge. It’s not because they’re afraid.

It’s because they’re smart.

They know that one shouldn’t take unreasonable risks. Now, don’t get me wrong, scuba diving is awesome. It’s an invitation to a whole new world. An exploration of a magical underwater kingdom. 

1. Safety

One of the major benefits of being certified is safety.

It makes sense to prepare oneself if one’s going into unfamiliar territory, right?

Because there could be dangers when diving that are not part of our everyday reality. The great side-effect of safety is that it directly affects your capacity to have fun underwater. 

Say you’re familiar with your gear, you know what each one does, how to use each, and what to do if there’s a problem, you won’t be anxious about being underwater.

You may have butterflies the first few times (that’s normal).

The fact that your certification training has equipped you with diving skills means you can really focus on exploration and enjoyment. 

2. A World of Opportunities

It’s possible that right now, you’re just thinking of scuba diving as a hobby. You’re just thinking of recreation.

I get it.

That’s often how it starts. In time, you’d realize that I wasn’t exaggerating when I wrote “a world of opportunities” above.

In time, you could decide to become an instructor. Yeah, you could. In time, you may want to even be a professional diver. 

You’d probably realise how awesome diving is that you’d want to explore the next level so that you can help others discover its spell.

Perhaps you’d want to travel to different countries and be a part of some expeditions.

Who knows?

Maybe one of these days, you’d opt for getting paid to do something that’s great fun.

Who knows?

You’d need to be certified to explore all the captivating opportunities that’d open up.

Getting certified is simply one of the smartest things you could do.

Now, let’s review the top certification available. I will be going into detail about the other certifications in later articles.

For now though, let’s dive in with PADI.

underwater cave

PADI Certification

PADI has been around for decades. It’s the largest provider of scuba diver education in the world. And is the gold standard among scuba divers.

Two friends gave birth to the organization in 1966 in Illinois, Chicago. (The company’s website has it that a bottle of Johnnie Walker was a witness on the occasion). 

It started humbly, but because of the value it provides, it’s grown rapidly.

From the get-go, its essence is reflected in its name: Professional Association of Diving Instructors. The founders stressed the “professional” element from the association’s birth.

Little wonder you can take PADI’s courses and find PADI instructors in virtually all parts of the globe.

At first, it grew slowly. By 1967, it had introduced recreational diving, first diver’s certification requirements, first advanced diver course, and first speciality diver programs.

It currently has many courses from beginner to professional levels. 

There’s even a course I’d call “scuba lite.” It’s actually known as “Junior PADI Scuba diver”.

It’s for those who don’t have much time, and who want to get the fundamentals. With that, you’d need to be accompanied by a guide when you dive. 

And, there are many other courses for those who have the time and prefer to go the whole hog. Apart from the general courses on scuba diving, there are also specialty courses on certain vital facets of diving. 

The fee for taking the courses varies based on the content and the level (as it should be). But on the whole, the fees are highly reasonable.

You could get started with as little as $150. Even the advanced courses are reasonably priced.

You can get started with some of these courses online. Then, later, you’d have to complement the training with a PADI dive shop or a certified instructor in any part of the world.

The PADI Open Water eLearning package is becoming more and more popular so you get more time actually diving in the water when you get out there!

Below are the courses you can get started with online.

  • Boat Diver
  • Deep Diver
  • Digital Underwater Photographer
  • Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV)
  • Drift Diver
  • Dry Suit Diver
  • Enriched Air Diver
  • Equipment Specialist
  • Night Diver
  • Peak Performance Buoyancy
  • Search and Recovery
  • Underwater Navigator
  • Wreck Diver

One of the activities that make PADI a leader is also its active role in the preservation of the underwater world for future generations.

As such, divers certified by the organization are environmentally conscious. 

PADI Certification Levels

The following are the categories divers can take courses in. 

  • Beginner
  • Continuing Education
  • Professional

The levels are self-explanatory. The courses in the Beginner and continuing education category are definitely for advanced students.

Those in the professional category are more appropriate for those who have decided to take things further a notch and want to work in the industry and engage in training others.

Below is a list of some of its courses..

  • PADI Scuba Diver Or Junior PADI Scuba Diver
  • Open Water Diver (OWD) Or Junior Open Water Diver
  • Advanced Open Water Diver (AOWD) 
  • Scuba Diving Certification Level for Rescue Divers
  • Master Scuba Diver
  • Dive Master
  • Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI)

Let’s check out one or two.

PADI Scuba Diver Or Junior PADI Scuba Diver

If you don’t have much time, this is the certification to get started with. It’d teach you the fundamentals and you’d be able to start diving.

But, there’s a caveat: You must always have a professional diver with you when you do. You can’t even go diving with a certified instructor, it must always be with a professional diver. And, you shouldn’t exceed 40 feet when you do.

Open Water Diver (OWD) Or Junior Open Water Diver

If you have more time and you’re interested in being an independent diver, this is the course for you. You’d not only learn the fundamentals, but you’d be taught how to effectively handle your gear. 

This is by far the most popular SCUBA course on the planet!

You’d become a certified diver, and you don’t need a professional diver to accompany you when you go diving.

This is more like it if you ask me.

If you’re a young person, you’d be able to go to depths of 40 feet (12m), while as an adult you’re free to go deeper, to a depth of 59 feet (18m).

scuba divers on a bike underwater

Advanced Open Water Diver (AOWD) 

As its name implies, at this level, you’d deepen what you’ve learned before and master some advanced stuff, too. And, (drum roll, please) you’d be able to go really deep.

How deep? 100 feet (30m). 

Are these courses hard? The truth is that they’re not. Remember that PADI has been training folks for decades.

So, they know what works and the best way to teach. So, there’s no need to be anxious at all. And would this take too much of your time?

No. Some courses can be taken in just 4 days. 

Of course, you’d need to factor in the time needed to study the course material. But that depends on you. Remember that earlier we learned that the academic part of the certification for a lot of courses can be taken online. 

Taking scuba diving certification is no tougher (read: not difficult) than some other certifications you’ve taken in the past.

Fortunately, there are many seasoned professional instructors around the world who are eager to guide you.

Don’t Forget Your Dive Insurance!

Before you go out on any dive trip or holiday, it is essential to make sure you have insurance that covers you if something goes wrong. Check out our dive insurance article for more information.

Or go straight to these dive insurance company websites:


Diver Alert Network (DAN)

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To conclude, in the preceding sections, we looked at the major benefits of getting certified: safety and preparing yourself for a world of opportunities.

We considered the top 5 certifications in the world and we explored a bit about what PADI, the world’s largest and most renowned scuba diving association, has to offer. 

Turns out that it’s got a lot.

There are courses and certifications for every level. And even for the time-challenged. What if you’re not yet sure that diving is something you can do on your own? You could take a “starter” course, and then, each time you want to explore the depths, you’re accompanied by a guide. 

So there’s no excuse.

Get started on your diving journey today.

Why not investigate your first scuba experience now by checking the dive holiday options below with dive-the-world.com

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What is the Best Scuba Certification? FAQs

Paul Fulbrook

Paul Fulbrook is a writer, scuba diver, ex-science teacher and marine biologist. He has a passion for coral reef biology, diving on coral reefs and writing about diving. He also loves cats and his children (sometimes).

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