Difference between PADI, SSI, and Others

What’s the difference between the different scuba training agencies?


Scuba certification is mandatory to scuba dive. Not many other hobbies have the same requirement. You can hop on ski slopes without any training in advance. They don’t even ask if you have experience when you rent skis. It’s nothing like that when diving.

There are several scuba diving training agencies, including PADI, NAUI, SSI, CMAS, and others, each with their own approach to scuba diving education and training.

  1. PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is the world’s largest diving training organization, with a focus on recreational diving and a wide range of courses and certifications.
  2. NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) is a non-profit diving organization that places an emphasis on dive safety and environmental awareness.
  3. SSI (Scuba Schools International) is a training organization that offers a variety of scuba diving courses, including recreational and technical diving programs.
  4. CMAS (World Underwater Federation) is a federation of national underwater organizations, offering certifications and training programs in scuba diving and related activities.
  5. BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club) is a UK-based diving organization with a focus on dive training, safety, and underwater exploration.

Each agency has its own set of standards, teaching methods, and course materials, and the best choice for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Some people prefer a more structured and comprehensive approach, while others may prefer a more relaxed and personalized approach. It’s important to research the different agencies and to choose one that aligns with your personal goals and preferences.

SSI vs PADI

Many people refer to PADI as “Put Another Dollar In”. Typically, at least in my own personal experience, SSI classes are $100 less expensive than PADI classes, due to SSI having lower costs for the instructors.

People online have varying opinions about the differences between PADI and SSI. Some common perspectives include:

  1. Course structure: Some people believe that PADI courses are more structured and comprehensive, while others think that SSI courses are more personalized and flexible.
  2. Emphasis on safety: Some people believe that SSI places a greater emphasis on dive safety, while others believe that PADI also places a strong emphasis on safety.
  3. Recognition and acceptance: Some people believe that PADI is more widely recognized and accepted globally, while others believe that both organizations are equally recognized and accepted.
  4. Teaching methods: Some people prefer PADI’s teaching methods, while others prefer SSI’s teaching methods.
  5. Price: Some people believe that PADI courses are more expensive, while others believe that SSI courses are more affordable. This is one area that tends to have consensus, that SSI is less expensive.

It’s important to note that these are just general perceptions and that individual experiences may vary. It’s always best to research and compare the different organizations to determine which one is best for you.

The more important thing than which agency you choose for certification is the instructor. Having an amazing instructor is more important than the course itself, because your instructor is responsible for ensuring you have comprehensive safety skills underwater.

I suggest you improve your skills by getting more comfortable underwater and spending more time underwater – this is easier in warm places like Okinawa or Puerto Rico.

If you really want to improve your abilities underwater, getting a breadth of experience in different temperatures, visibilities, and locations is important.

What are the other scuba training agencies besides PADI and SSI?

There are several other scuba training agencies besides PADI and SSI that offer scuba diving certifications and training programs. If you're looking for PADI alternatives for diving, you can try these companies. Some of these agencies include:
  • NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors): NAUI is one of the oldest scuba training agencies and is recognized worldwide. They offer a comprehensive range of diving courses and emphasize safety and environmental awareness.
  • SDI/TDI (Scuba Diving International/Technical Diving International): SDI focuses on recreational scuba diving courses, while TDI offers training for technical diving (diving beyond recreational limits). They provide a wide range of specialty courses and emphasize advanced diving techniques.
  • RAID (Rebreather Association of International Divers): RAID is known for its focus on rebreather diving, which allows divers to stay underwater for longer periods and experience silent diving. They also offer a range of other scuba certifications.
  • CMAS (Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques): CMAS is a global organization that promotes scuba diving and underwater sports. They offer scuba diving courses and certifications, as well as other disciplines like underwater photography and marine biology.
  • GUE (Global Underwater Explorers): GUE is an organization focused on technical diving and exploration. They prioritize safety, skill development, and environmental conservation. GUE offers various levels of training, from basic scuba diving to advanced cave diving.
  • IANTD (International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers): IANTD specializes in technical diving training, including mixed gas diving, cave diving, and rebreather diving. They offer certifications for divers looking to explore more challenging environments.
It's important to note that while PADI and SSI are the most well-known and widely recognized scuba training agencies, all of the above agencies provide reputable training programs and certifications. When choosing a scuba diving agency, it's advisable to consider your specific goals, the availability of training facilities near your location, and the expertise of instructors.