Comparing Scuba Diving Certification Agencies

Novice divers expore man made tidal pool, Monterey Bay Aquarium

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Are you looking for a scuba diving training agency? Learn about some of the popular recreational and technical scuba certification agencies such as NAUI and SSI, as well as considerations for selecting a training agency. Whether you are thinking of enrolling in an open water certification course or are looking for a technical training agency, this page can help you find the scuba organization that's right for you.

Vetting the Instructor

Before you throw on a scuba tank, make sure that your instructor is certified by a reputable scuba training agency. Scuba training agencies establish good practices and course standards to keep you safe while you learn to dive. By choosing a certified instructor, you can be confident that your instructor understands safety rules, knows what information a student must master to be safe underwater, and has been trained in educational theory.

Choosing an Agency

All entry level diving courses teach students how to clear a mask and recover a lost regulator. However, although the basic skills each agency teaches remain the same, scuba certification agencies may differ in their philosophies. Some agencies focus on creating safe recreational-style divers (such as PADI), while other agencies train beginning divers to use technical-style procedures and equipment (such as UTD). Some agencies are commercial and some are non-profit (such as NAUI). Remember, while selecting a training agency is important, choosing a good instructor is equally so. The course you receive will only be as good as the instructor.

Organizations That Establish Standards

  • WRSTC (World Recreational Scuba Training Council)
    The World Recreational Scuba Training Council is an organization of scuba certification agencies that establishes international minimum training standards for recreational scuba diving agencies. The WRSTC is composed of smaller RSTCs (Recreational Scuba Training Councils), each of which deals with one region of the world.
  • ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
    The International Organization for Standardization sets standards for products and services around the world, including scuba diving. The ISO website currently sells PDF files of standards such as minimum requirements for the training of recreational scuba instructors, recreational divers, and nitrox divers. Like the WRSTC, ISO standards focus on recreational diving only.

IANTD offers both recreational and technical dive training, including the entry-level open water training under their IANTD Open Water Diver Certification.

  • Recognized Worldwide? Yes
  • WRSTC Member? No
  • ISO Certified? Yes

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NASE offers both recreational and technical dive training, as well as the classic entry-level course: Open Water Diver. NASE is not a member of WRSTC because, under NASE training, snorkels are not mandatory.

  • Recognized Worldwide? Yes
  • WRSTC Member? No (see above)
  • ISO Certified? ISO application is currently being processed

Why Train With NASE 

The National Academy of Scuba Educators (NASE Worldwide) is the only training organization to draw its extensive experience from the fields of commercial, recreational, technical and cave diver training. Our scuba certification programs are fun, easy and focus on the fundamentals of safe diving practices. Our approach includes multiple delivery methods of academic content and convenience of scuba training through our network of diving educators.
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NAUI offers both recreational and technical dive training, and the entry-level course, called NAUI Scuba Diver.

  • Recognized Worldwide? Yes
  • WRSTC Member? No
  • ISO Certified? Yes

What Sets NAUI Apart

"NAUI is the world's most respected, largest non-profit diver training organization in the world. NAUI was established in 1959 as a membership association and organized solely to support and promote dive safety through education."
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PADI offers both recreational training and a few forms of technical training. The PADI entry-level course is known as PADI Open Water Diver.

  • Recognized Worldwide? Yes
  • WRSTC Member? Yes
  • ISO Certified? Yes
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PSAI Professional Scuba Association International Logo
Logo reproduced with the permission of PSAI.

PSAI offers both recreational and technical dive training. The PSAI entry-level course is called PSAI Sport Diver.

  • Recognized Worldwide? Yes
  • WRSTC Member? No
  • ISO Certified? Unverified

PSAI Wants You to Know

"The Professional Scuba Association International (PSAI) has certification programs which cover a full range of Sport and Technical Diving Programs. PSAI is the first Technical Diving certification agency, teaching technical dive courses since 1962. Our educational philosophy is built on the principles of: Knowledge, Safety, and Integrity."

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SSI offers both recreational and technical dive training and the entry-level SSI Open Water Diver Certification.

  • Recognized Worldwide? Yes
  • WRSTC Member? Yes
  • ISO Certified? Yes

SSI Training Philosophy

Each of our Training Programs is based on our Diver Diamond Methodology, which focuses on the knowledge, skills, equipment, and experience required to become a highly qualified diver. Your learning experience will come alive with personalized instruction that puts your skills to use in reality-based training scenarios. Our unique approach to dive training is known as "Comfort through Repetition." By practicing each skill you've learned throughout each level of your training, your actions become conditioned responses—second nature! SSI training ensures you retain what you've already learned while continuing to learn more. As a result, diving remains fun, not an exercise in memory recall or mental gymnastics.

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UTD offers recreational training with a technical flavor and traditional technical training. The entry-level course is known as UTD Open Water.

  • Recognized Worldwide? Yes
  • WRSTC Member? No
  • ISO Certified? Unverified
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