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Which Specialty Certifications To Get?
LB1335 - 12/29/2014 1:31 PM
Category: Training
Replies: 16

I want to take the rescue diver course and plan on using specialty certifications to learn more and increase my number of dives. I’ve been thinking about getting:
1) Equipment
2) Enriched Air
3) U/W Navigation
4) Dry Suit
5) Deep
6) Search and Recovery
Any thoughts on these choices and the order in which I get them?
BillParker - 12/29/2014 3:23 PM
The value of a specialty cert is exaggerated. I got a stack in the first few months after my OW and no one has ever asked for them. (It would take awhile to find them in my dive junk they are so deeply buried by now.) I bring only my AOW and nitrox (although it’s very unlikely I’ll get to use nitrox for various reasons) cards now because I know they won’t ask for the others. No one will stop you from diving if you DON’T have those certs. If they did hardly any boat dives would occur since so few people go to the trouble to obtain them. The industry has a hard enough time getting people in the door and do their OW without making anymore barriers for them. The issue with certs is some boats won’t take you to some sites (particularly deep ones) without AOW or experience with diving deep (100ft or more). And even if you have a cert they may want to restrict you to a less advanced site until they have a chance to observe you themselves and see that you can handle yourself well. (Just because you have a cert doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing!) Some shore accessible sites (caves usually) will also restrict you. You have your OW and AOW so you’re pretty much good to go for most non-technical dive sites in the Americas. I’ve been lots of places and done diverse types of dives and if I had stopped at OW I could have still done all of those dives safely. I learned by taking courses but I learned more by getting out and diving. But those courses can still be fun and instructional if you have a GOOD instructor, time, and money to do them. Take the courses that you think will be fun.
NORTHEAST - 12/29/2014 4:28 PM
The only two I would take and I have taken are dry suit which I took because I planned on tec diving and they want to see that cert. and I did advanced search and recovery and navigation.
Eric_R - 12/29/2014 6:47 PM
I agree with Bill in that you probably won’t be asked for most of the extra cert’s but I still believe that taking them is good for you and the people you dive with. You may not need several of the certs but they will still help you hone your skills as a diver and help you in weak areas.
dalehall - 12/30/2014 6:14 AM
In my opinion, the only specialty worth getting is EAN. You must be EAN certified to dive/rent EAN tanks. The rest, there is no prerequisite for doing any of those type of dives. Yes, knowledge is good and everything you can learn will help you be a better diver, however, unless you are financially independant, you are spending a lot of money for those specialties that could be used in better ways. If you want to learn dry suit: Get the knowledge you can get from the books and then borrow someone’s drysuit and have them show you how to use it. If you personally know an instructor, hang with them and pick up what you can about the different specialties. Personally, I just don’t see a reason to spend money on specialty courses aside from EAN.
LatitudeAdjustment - 12/30/2014 6:31 AM
For your/our home waters you’ll need the drysuit, navigation because we can’t see the anchor line 15’ away. Deep if you are going offshore NJ and EAN if you want to stay awhile. Rescue is always good and I hope you never need to use it. I took an equipment class because most shops in my travels didn’t know how to open an Oceanic Omega reg. The class size was small so we used my daughters and my equipment so the class cost vs getting the equipment serviced was a wash :)
btw2459 - 12/30/2014 7:11 AM
I found the equipment specialty a good one to have because it gave me a better understanding of the dive equipment out there before I started to purchase equipment. You don’t do any dives with the class, but you get a great idea on the simple maintenance that can be done by a recreation diver. It also helped me put together my save a dive kit, which I’ve used to help others more than myself.
BillParker - 12/30/2014 9:47 AM
You can get the specialty books off of for as little as $20 and read them in a few hours. They are packed with great information. If you’re inexperienced you’ll learn a lot from the books. You don’t need to waste your money and time on the class. Just go diving. As for the EAN cert it’s almost impossible to get a nitrox fill without the cert. But don’t have high expectations of doing a bunch of nitrox dives and getting more bottom time. The reason is it’s very difficult to find a nitrox certified dive buddy. I did a couple of dives in a nuclear missile silo and nitrox added maybe 5-10 minutes to two 110 feet dives. My big nitrox trip was to the Flower Gardens. It was cold and we froze long before we hit our NDls so it was no advantage. I also did one nitrox dive at Panama city Beach but I had to go solo to get more time on a wreck because my buddy was nitrox certified but dove on an air computer. The captain of the boat was irritated because I had messed up his schedule staying down so long. He was late back to the dock because of me and they sold me the nitrox. Everywhere I’ve been in the caribbean they charged $10-$15 per tank for nitrox. That’s a rip off. The only place reasonable I have seen is Panama City Beach were it was an extra $3 per tank for banked 32. Most boats I have been on in the caribbean have strict schedules. Two tank morning and afternoon dives are the typical. If you dive nitrox in the morning you’ll mess up their afternoon schedule. Also I’ve rarely been on a boat with other divers who actually own their own equipment. Typically it’s rented and doesn’t include a computer. Then they are taken on a dive master led rigid 45 minute dive that will make it very unlikely to for anyone to get bent. If I joined a group like that nitrox would not keep me down any longer. The weakest link on a boat always drags you down to their level. The recreational nitrox technology is great on paper but difficult to put to good use in the real world. In over five years and 253 dives I’ve gained maybe 30 minutes of bottom time.
BillParker - 12/30/2014 5:10 PM
I know about those boats thanks for pointing them out. The only diver I ever met (non-technical that is) who gained an significant advantage from nitrox did it by getting on a liveaboard that only does nitrox fills.
ellishugh - 1/01/2015 8:33 PM
Peak Performance Bouancy is a good specialty to take if you are a relatively new diver.
BillParker - 1/04/2015 9:19 AM
Those are good points on the utility of Nitrox I wasn’t aware of. I think solo diving is a good course of study. From my experience if you don’t already have someone in your family or a close friend that is already into diving or you can get them into it you’ll be traveling solo on pure diving trips. And when you travel solo you will dive solo. Everyone else I was on a dive boat with were either couples or entire families. When you get instabuddied with these types they aren’t your buddy. Once you’re underwater they group together. And you’re not part of their clique so they usually ignore you. The divemaster will help you if they see a problem but their attention is split amongst the group. And there’s usually a problem person that they have to focus on that absorbs their attention. You don’t have a buddy in a situation like that. You’re really on a solo dive. If you travel without bringing someone with you to dive with study solo diving because it will happen. You might as well be prepared for it.
BillParker - 1/04/2015 1:42 PM
Good point about the acceptance of the solo diving cert. Not everyone does. I have studied solo diving (SDI’s) but I’m not trying to get a cert at this time. I already am doing many dives solo. But these are usually dives where I spend 90% of my time 20 feet or shallower. Maybe I’m a fool but if my air supply fails I figure I don’t have far to go to get to free air again. There are a couple of places I have wanted to go for years and I have given up finding someone from DFW that wants to do it. The dives will be much deeper (possibly up to 100ft) and I’ll be taking a pony bottle with me. But I’m not taking a solo cert. The reason is there are no rules against solo diving or there’s no one to check my solo cert when I get there anyway. So I don’t see much reason to pay the extra bucks to get a cert no one will ever see but myself. I wouldn’t get a solo cert unless I was planning to go somewhere they allow you to dive solo and they check for it. And I’m not at this time. I want to go to Bonaire sometime. And I want to do SHORE dives. (Boats suck!) Most divers around here are not in good enough shape to do shore dives like that. So I’ll probably have to go alone when I get around to it. I expect at least part of the time to find someone to dive with when I get there but I won’t let the lack of a buddy stop me. I’ll get a solo cert if they require (and accept) it at the resort I choose.

I think it’s funny PADI teaches against solo diving while their own instructors normally dive solo on training dives. (I see it all the time at local lakes/quarries and in my own OW class.) But when they see the potential for making money from selling solo certs they suddenly change they attitude.