Different scuba diving qualifications are awarded by various organizations and can be for instructors or students, with levels ranging from beginner to advanced. PADI is the most recognized provider, but other organizations like BSAC and NAUI offer equivalent qualifications. Tables can help divers compare their qualifications with other institutions.
The different types of scuba diving qualifications can be separated by the awarding body, the level of the qualification, and whether the qualification is for instructors or students. The world’s most recognized provider of diving qualifications is the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), but many others such as the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) and the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) offer qualifications equivalent to those provided by PADI. Diving qualifications also have different levels, from beginner to intermediate and advanced, although these levels are named differently by different organizations. Most institutions offer both instructor courses and basic dive courses.
Different organizations around the world offer diving qualifications, differentiated by the body that awards them. PADI, BSAC and NAUI are three award agencies already mentioned, but there are many others. Some other notable diving associations include the Sub-Aqua Association (SAA), Scuba Diving International (SDI), and the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS). These organizations each offer their own type of diving qualifications. Each course contains different information, so if a diver is qualified by one organization, you may need to pass a test before you can dive with another organization.
Although different organizations have different titles for their qualifications, they can generally be divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced. Novice qualifications are usually called “Open Water Diver” qualifications, which generally indicate that the diver knows enough to dive in open water. This title is used by, among others, the SAA, PADI and SDI. Intermediate diving qualifications have different names depending on the specific institution issuing them, but are often referred to as “Rescue Diver” or “Sports Diver”. Advanced qualifications are normally called something like “Dive Master” or “Dive Leader”.
Diving qualifications can also be divided into those that are intended to teach a person how to dive and those that are intended to teach a person how to teach other people. Essentially, the two types of diving qualifications examined in this way would be instructor qualifications and diver qualifications. All instructors must be advanced divers, but not all advanced divers are able to instruct. Most awarding bodies include the word ‘Instructor’ in the title of all teaching qualifications.
Tables available online can help divers determine the value of their diving qualifications with other institutions. This allows people to get a good idea of what level they would be with another organization, and therefore makes it easier to dive with different companies. Most equivalent courses have similar names, but some, such as those offered by CMAS, are unique.