PADI vs SSI Scuba Certifications



There are several diving certification agencies such as PADI, SSI, NAUI, RAID, CMAS, TDI, and SDI. Though statistics may vary, it's thought that PADI has certified 60% - 75% of divers worldwide but it's certain that PADI has issued more than 25 million scuba certifications since 2017. At one point or another, you'll probably run into fellow divers that have been certified by a different agency than yours and each one will argue that theirs is the better. In this article, we are going to focus on the similarities and differences between the two most popular, PADI and SSI.


For the most part, both PADI and SSI are the same, however, there are some significant differences and once you know the differences you can make an educated decision on which one will work best for you. Both scuba schools are safe, trustworthy, recognized all over the world, and are both regulated and checked by the World Recreational Scuba Training Council.


What are their origins?


PADI = Professional Association of Diving Instructors In 1966 John Cronin and Ralph Erickson decided to break away from NAUI (then the biggest training organization) to create their own scuba school known as PADI. They thought that it would be better to break down the curriculum into more "digestible modules" thus making it easier for the students to learn and retain the knowledge.


SSI = Scuba Schools International Just 4 years later in 1970 Robert Clark, one of the pioneers of scuba diver training, created SSI which is the first to offer a full teaching curriculum.

SIMILARITIES

PADI

SSI

Is the open water certification for life?

Yes

Yes

Open water certification max depth

18 m/60 ft

18 m/60 ft

Certification accepted worldwide?

Yes

Yes

App where you can log dives and have access to your credentials?

Yes

Yes

Online database access to check certification?

Yes

Yes

Lifetime access to digital learning materials

Yes

Yes

Follow international standards outlined by the World Recreational Training Council (WRSTC)

Yes

Yes

Let's discuss some of the differences.


1. One of the main differences is how and what the instructor can teach. With PADI the curriculum is unalterable, whereas SSI instructors can add more personalized and additional information. - PADI insists that you complete the skills in a set order. - SSI allows you to skip a skill that you are having difficulty with, practice another skill, then return to the previous. Once all standards are met you can be certified to that level. - PADI instructors can work as a freelance with several dive centers at the same time. SSI instructors are affiliated with a specific dive center.

2. Some of the underwater techniques are different and can make a very big difference in your dive experience. A great example of this is the "out of air scenario". With PADI you are taught to reach for your dive buddy's alternate regulator and with SSI you are taught to reach for the primary air source, yes the one in your mouth. Why is this? While the SSI approach is based on the fact, that an out-of-air diver will instinctively reach for the next available air source (in his or her buddy's mouth), and prepare the student (that has not run out of air) how to react in case he has to give up his primary air source. This is pretty important to know when you are being paired with a dive buddy you don't know.

3. There is a difference in the cost of the courses because of the following factors: - Both agencies will provide you with a digital copy of your certification card, however, if you want the PIC (Positive Identification Card) which is the physical card, it has a fee with PADI but is included with the total cost of the course. With SSI there is no extra fee. When you complete the course with PADI you are given a temporary card that can be printed and used until your physical card arrives by mail. With SSI, the dive center can issue a physical card once the course is complete. - Course material with SSI is free of charge and is only available online. PADI requires a payment (included in the cost of the course) to study online or for the physical book.

4. There are differences in the names of the certification levels and you will want to be sure of the course before signing up. See the chart below for examples. Also, be careful when signing up for the courses, especially if you’re taking certain courses from one school to the other courses from the other. This is known as a "crossover". While SSI allows you to crossover and certain bridges exist, it is a little harder to fulfill PADI’s requirements for a cross-over.


5. Leveling-Up With SSI you will need to show your experience (number of dives) to reach the next level, PADI really doesn't care about your experience, you can take one course right after the other.

6. TRAINING PATH The PADI philosophy is for students to complete the Open Water course, go on and do the Advanced Open Water course, supplement their diving education with Specialty courses, and ideally, take the Rescue Diver course. A recreational diver can reach the level of Master Scuba Diver by completing the Rescue Diver course and 5 Specialty courses, as well as being able to show evidence of having done 50 dives. In 2017, the application fee for the Master Scuba Diver rating has been waived by PADI. The SSI path is slightly different. The focus after the Open Water course is more on Specialty courses. SSI does offer an Advanced Adventurer course, which is very similar to the PADI Advanced Open Water course (5 dives, each course is the first dive of a Specialty course) but to be recognized as an Advanced Open Water diver with SSI, you must have completed 4 Specialty courses and have 24 logged dives. SSI will automatically award this rating on meeting these requirements, with no additional charge. SSI has other awards that recognize training and experience, that are automatically given at no extra charge. These include Master Diver (4 Specialties + Diver Stress and Rescue + 50 dives), Century Diver (100 logged dives), Silver 300 Diver (300 logged dives), and Gold 500 Diver (500 logged dives).

PADI  Career Path

SSI Career Path

If you are interested in doing either PADI or SSI certification while staying on Cozumel, be sure to contact us!

To compare pricing for the certifications visit - Scuba Diving

If you have never tried scuba diving be sure to check out our article - Discover Scuba Diving


Happy and Safe Diving from Aquadventures!



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