Why I chose PADI to become a scuba pro

If you have been a diver for more than a day then you know there is a constant battle over which training agency is better. Some will tell you certain agencies have better training and others are only interested in your money. My favorite is "agency X is a pyramid scheme." I'm here to tell you all of them are right and all of them are wrong. Huh? Let me explain.

training agencies

The training agencies

There are tons of scuba training agencies all around the world, some available worldwide, others only available in certain regions. Some training agencies only teach recreational diving courses, while others teach both recreational and technical diving. Many agencies teach beginner open water diver as a stand alone course and others teach it combined with an advanced diver course. Almost all agencies have Online learning and the pricing varies. This is also true for specialized courses such as night or wreck diving.

The way agencies advance divers may be different too. I know a few that advance you based on the number of dives you have and others that do it based on skill level. Dive shops will recognize just about any dive certification and most training agencies will allow you to switch to their agency with a qualifying certification prerequisite.

Over all training agencies may be different administratively but the core dive physics is the same.

Your instructor

The biggest thing I hear is agency A has better courses than agency B. But as I said above, the core dive physics are the same. Agency A might require 4 dives to complete the course while agency B requires 6. Is the instructor from agency A going certify you if at dive 4 you have not met the skill requirements? Any instructor will tell you no.

Agency B may have an instructor that has been teaching for over a decade while Agency A has an instructor who has been teaching for 4 years. Could that 4 year instructor be better? Sure they could and this is why your instructor is more important than the agency. Training style and environment play a big role in where and who you take your course with. An instructors job is to teach you to be able to safely perform the requirements of the course to mastery. This is a standard in every scuba training organization around the world, some instructors are just better at it no matter the agency

go pro

Going PADI

Now that we have talked about agencies and instructors, lets get the the reasons I chose PADI.

Living in the northeast United States, PADI is the dominant training agency in my region so it was who I did my initial training with. And to be honest, I didn't know any other agencies existed. Just as you may hear people use the word Go Pro to describe any small underwater camera, you will hear them use the word PADI to describe a certified diver. "You got your PADI?" is a popular one.

As I did dive travel I became aware of other training establishments such as SSI, SDI, TDI, Naui. The first thing that struck me was availability. If you are going to go pro, being able to teach is a big deal and in order to teach you have to do it through a program you are certified to teach with. I found PADI shops were everywhere I went. To be fair that could change if I were to go to a different region of the world but for my needs, PADI was the best option

I also found PADI offered more opportunity to teach specialty courses even when other agencies were available and thats the money maker for an instructor. Some specialty courses cost as much if not more than becoming an open water diver but with less required time in the water for the instructor. You won't get rich being a scuba instructor, most do it for the love of the sport. But if you can work less and get paid the same (or more) thats a good thing.

Working in the PADI system

Before I took the plunge to go pro I spoke with instructors and shop owners from other agencies a a few things stood out out me.

Some agencies require you to be affiliated with a shop to teach. If any of you out there teach CPR you will know what I mean. With PADI you can be have fins will travel. If there is a dive spot that meets the training requirements, you can recruit a student and teach, no shop required. This means you don't have to share the profits and when you've spent almost 10,000 in training and dives to become an instructor, that matters. Rather than making anywhere from 75 to 150 dollars to teach a course, you could make triple that.

Also keep in mind PADI instructors don't work for PADI, they agree to follow the standards of the PADI system in return for administrative services. It's almost like a franchise fast food restaurant. This means if you are fun diving on a boat with people taking a PADI course and something happens, you have a reasonable argument against liability because you don't work for PADI. The same holds true for instructors in many other agencies. If you are on paper as affiliated with the shop though, you may have liability.

Padi Slates

Follow the slates and the manual.

All agencies have training standards but some give more latitude to the instructor than others. Many like that freedom some agencies give and feel it makes their students better divers, PADI on the other hand is more rigid. Why would I choose PADI then? With more flexibility comes more liability. Imagine something happens and you have to testify in court. The prosecution may ask, why did you do X and add Y? An instructor with flexibility may answer they thought it was better while a PADI instructor will answer the manual required I do so and in this order. Barring negligence on the PADI instructors part, the argument becomes the manual, not the training deviation decisions of the instructor. This is why as a PADI IDC (Instructor development course) Staff instructor we preach follow the training slates and the manual.

Some may argue with little flexibility, the PADI system doesn't offer the same training as the flexible system instructor. I would point them to what I said above, "An instructors job is to teach you to be able to safely perform the requirements of the course to mastery."

Of course you could choose to teach with a non PADI agency and not use the flexibility. If an instructor can teach to mastery with less liability it's a win win.

Choose your agency.

While PADI is right for me it may not be for you, there is no right or wrong in choice. I know amazing instructors from PADI, SSI, TDI, SDI and even Naui. So when choosing an agency these are some things to keep in mind before you spend thousands of dollars to spread the gospel scuba to the masses.