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Selecting a Training Facility
RAWalker - 8/16/2014 11:39 PM
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Category: Educational
Comments: 1
Considerations for Selection of a Scuba Training Facility

The sport of Scuba Diving has maintained a great record of safety while maturing from an elite sport to one that today enjoyed by the masses.
This in spite of the fact that it is a high risk sport which allows people to enjoy a hostile environment.
Those seeking to engage in the sport should not consider it lightly but with a serious understanding that it requires a great deal of knowledge and training to mitigate the risks and maintain safety.
It is with that knowledge of risk that an individual should research the best training facilities available in their locale before committing to a program.
At this point one need to ask… What are the differences between the sanctioning bodies and certifying agencies?
This has been debated for many years among divers without positive resolution but maybe a simple objective view is the best answer and I will attempt to supply both an enthusiast’s and a professional’s view.
If the eldest or least expensive of these organizations were the most popular it could be easily explained as either the eldest having had a jump on development of their program or the latter appealing through simple economics.
The fact is that the most popular is not the eldest nor least expensive and its appeal can only be attributed to a program that customers find to be fun and easy to complete while maintaining instruction of both high quality and safety.
This isn’t to say the other programs offered are in any way substandard or offering any more or less. PADI was the first to hit all the key areas necessary to gain the high degree of public appeal and has continued to refine it ever since.
This has allowed the organization to grow into the largest of the sanctioning organizations. (Larger than the combination of all the others combined) This growth has spread throughout the world.
From a Dive Professionals point of view this translates to the majority of available jobs within the industry requiring professional certification from PADI.
PADI’s program has been the most popular for quite a while with no signs of the trend changing.

Differences Amongst Local Training Facilities
Now that we have considered the sanction organizations and their programs lets narrow down our focus to the local training facilities.
The PADI training system may be the undisputed leader but not all dive shops or training facilities are the same even if they instruct using the same training system.
To this end PADI has recognition systems in place for both facilities and instructors.
The highest level that a training facility can attain is a PADI 5 Star CDC (Career Development Center) Facilities at this level not only teach the full spectrum of PADI diving programs but also train at professional level and help place these new diving professionals into the job market. These facilities should be your first choice as their instructors generally are among the most knowledgeable and continually upgrading their own training.
Next level would be a PADI 5 Star IDC (Instructor Development Center) while these still train to the instructor level this is the limit of their abilities and are not involved with career placement.
PADI also has ratings of PADI 5 Star Dive shop and below which although may offer training if they have an available PADI instructor these ratings are only affiliations that require the shop to use PADI standards in all their business practices.


Hawkeye54 - 8/19/2014 2:02 PM
I will caveat that regardless of certifying agency, there are "good", "okay", and "poor" instructors in each faction. A diver should choose their dive training center based on their own personal preference, needs, and maybe do some research of customer satisfaction (TripAdviser is a fairly good resource outside of, but a quick web search should gather hits for customer feedback on most reputable dive centers).

Having said that - I have the most first-hand experience with PADI, as I am a PADI instructor. I will say that PADI’s many (arguably annoying to some, lol) touch points with the consumer facilitate both awareness of continuing education opportunities and serve as a vector for quality control through customer feedback. Nearly every one of my students receives a satisfaction survey where they can provide feedback on their perceived quality of the training program, a randomized check on standard procedures, as well as the demeanor/competence of their instructor. I have no direct visibility on the feedback but if administrators at PADI feel there’s a problem, they will contact me to investigate. I haven’t had any inquiries from PADI thus far but I do know they reprimand/suspend/revoke professional membership of individuals or dive centers found to be operating in violation of their set training standards.

FWIW: I took a couple of SDI courses and never received a follow-on survey.

SDI/TDI, NAUI, SSI, (etc.) instructors — Feel free to chime in on this subject and share your experiences to help inform the consumer. I support ALL diving instructors and dive centers who operate with a positive attitude and passion for safely enjoying SCUBA diving as a fun and educational activity.