Scuba Diving Certification Agencies

Popular Scuba Diving Certification Agencies and the Differences Between Them

Are you looking for a scuba diving training agency? This page lists some 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.

New to diving? Check these links before continuing:
What Is Recreational Scuba Diving?
What Is Technical Scuba Diving?
What Is the Open Water Course?

What Is a Scuba Training Agency?

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.

How to Choose a Diving Certification 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 Recreational Scuba Diving Training Agency 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.

1
IANTD - International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers

Scuba lesson on passenger liner
Barry Winkler/Photolibrary/Getty Images

• Rec or Tec? IANTD offers both recreational and technical dive training.
• Entry Level Courses? Yes - IANTD Open Water Diver
• Recognized Worldwide? Yes.
• WRSTC Member? No.
• ISO Certified? Yes.
 

2
NASE - National Academy of Scuba Educators

NASE National Association of Scuba Educators Logo
Logo reproduced with the permission of NASE.

• Rec or Tec? NASE offers both recreational and technical dive training.
• Entry Level Courses? Yes - Open Water Diver
• Recognized Worldwide? Yes.
• WRSTC Member? No - because snorkels are not mandatory.
• ISO Certified? ISO application is currently being processed.

Why should you train with NASE? NASE writes, 

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.

3
NAUI - National Association of Underwater Instructors

NAUI National Association of Underwater Instructors Logo
Logo reproduced with the permission of NAUI.


• Rec or Tec? NAUI offers both recreational and technical dive training.
• Entry Level Courses? Yes - NAUI Scuba Diver
• Recognized Worldwide? Yes.
• WRSTC Member? No.
• ISO Certified? Yes.

What sets NAUI apart? NAUI says,

"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."

4
PADI - Professional Association of Underwater Instructors

• Rec or Tec? PADI offers both recreational training and a few forms of technical training.
• Entry Level Courses? Yes - PADI Open Water Diver
• Recognized Worldwide? Yes.
• WRSTC Member? Yes.
• ISO Certified? Yes.

5
PSAI - Professional Scuba Association International

PSAI Professional Scuba Association International Logo
Logo reproduced with the permission of PSAI.


• Rec or Tec? PSAI offers both recreational and technical dive training.
• Entry Level Courses? Yes - 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, & Integrity."

6
SSI - Scuba Schools International

SSI Scuba Schools International Logo
Logo reproduced with the permission of SSI


• Rec or Tec? SSI offers both recreational and technical dive training.
• Entry Level Courses? Yes - SSI Open Water Diver
• Recognized Worldwide? Yes.
• WRSTC Member? Yes
• ISO Certified? Yes.

SSI comments on their 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."

 

7
UTD - Unified Team Diving

UTD, unified team diving, Logo
Logo reproduced with the permission of UTD.


• Rec or Tec? UTD offers recreational training (with a technical flavor) and technical training.
• Entry Level Courses? Yes - UTD Open Water
• Recognized Worldwide? Yes.
• WRSTC Member? No.
• ISO Certified? Unverified.