SSI vs PADI, What is The Difference Between There Scuba Diving Certifications

How Often Do Scuba Divers Get Left Behind?
March 24, 2020
Split Fin vs Full Fin
Split Fin vs Full Fin, What is The Difference Between Them?
April 7, 2020

SSI vs PADI, What is The Difference Between There Scuba Diving Certifications

ssi vs padi

You want to get the scuba diving certification and have started the research to see what is involved to complete the scuba diving open water certification. And after your research, you will find that there are 2 main certification bodies called PADI and SSI.

I was left asking the same question when I was trying to join a scuba diving club, that was SSI only but I only know of PADI. I was left trying to compare PADI vs SSI and wondering what the difference was.

And now you are wondering what are the differences between the PADI and SSI certification bodies and which one is the best to get certified with. Let’s compare PADI vs SSI certifications.

Read more on common questions asked by beginner divers

What Are The PADI and SSI Certifications Bodies?

The diving certification gives a diver a level of competence in terms of being able to dive safely and training to be able to handle a variety of possible situations. The diver certification is issued by agencies or organizations such as PADI and SSI which provide and manage the diving train material.

Once the diver completes there training, the diver is registered as a certified diver with the relevant diving organization in which the training, assessment, and certification were completed. Ensuring the high standards for the certification they issue.

The 2 main diving certification bodies are.

  • PADI – stands for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.
  • SSI – stands for Scuba Schools International.


PADI logo
The PADI logo

PADI has over 27 million PADI divers worldwide making them the world’s largest scuba training agency. PADI training tries a progressive training approach. That slowly introduces the skills needed, the safety diving skills as well as the environmental knowledge to student divers in stages.

Also, PADI is in over 183 countries with over 6,600 International locations from dive centers to resorts around the world. And their training materials printed in more than 26 languages.


SSI Logo
The SSI Logo

SSI has been around for more than 45 years, providing training for scuba divers and dive instructors with dive centers and resorts around the world.

Also, SSI is in more than 110 countries with over 2,800 International locations. And their training materials printed in more than 30 languages.

Other Scuba Diving Certification bodies

Thankfully, most if not all dive shop operators provide courses to get the training required to get the diving cert. There are other scuba diving certification bodies such as.

  • Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS)
  • International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers (IANTD)
  • National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI)
  • Scuba Diving International / Technical Diving International (SDI / TDI)

What is in The Diving Courses

Both the PADI or SSI Open Water Certifications are very similar if not the same in the way you will learn and the structure of the learning plan is pretty much the same.

There are 3 main sections to the Open Water certification which are as follows.

  • Scuba Diving Theory
  • Shallow Water Practise Diving skills
  • Open Water Dives
Scuba diving open water #certifications cover 3 main area which are #ScubaDiving Theory, Shallow Water Practise Diving skills and the Open Water #Dives share with a friend

Scuba Diving Theory

This is where the biggest difference between PADI or SSI is. Both PADI or SSI provide online training or you can do it in a classroom that can take a full day to complete. The first difference is that the PADI will cost you around $140 to study online, the latest prices can be found here.

And, the SSI online theory is free, here is the link to SSI online free courses. By doing it online with SSI will not only save you a full day but some money.

If you going to do the diving theory, in a classroom environment at the dive center the costs will work out pretty much the same.

elearning is available with both padi vs ssi
Scuba diving theory can be completed online

Practice Diving skills

This is where you practice the necessary skills to be a certified scuba diver from removing your diving masks underwater to practicing the basic safety skills you need. This is done either in shallow water in the ocean or in a swimming pool under the supervising of the diving Instructor.

This where the scuba diving instructor will demonstrate each skill to you, and you try and do that skill. You progress through each skill one by one, these can be completed in one go but depends on time.

With PADI and SSI, the set of skills to work through and that are needed to be completed are similar between the two diving bodies. This part is more about the instructor and how good the scuba diving instructor than PADI and SSI.

Open Water Dives

This is the hardest part in my opinion. Again there is very little difference between PADI and SSI. You will need to complete 4 dives over 2 days with a maximum depth of 18 meters.

Need to complete 4 dives with both ssi or padi
Need to complete 4 dives

First Different: The Flexibility Teaching

The first difference is with the teaching methods. It can appear that PADI tends to be a little bit rigid when comparing with SSI. SSI allows their instructors to personalize the delivery of the course and even add their own exercises.

PADI Teaching Plan

The PADI course strictly sticks to the plan. The course modules or sections are broken down into the exact time spend on each and each skill you teach. This is not bad that PADI runs this in a strict order, it only means that if you are struggling with a section or skill you can not progress until this skill is completed.

This is ideal for a beginning diver with no experience as a diver.

SSI Teaching Plan

SSI is more flexible, in terms that you still have to pass the course and practice the skills but the order is not strict. For example, your instructor can move between the dive, classrooms, or pool sessions, and come back to it when you’ll be feeling more confident.

Also, SSI lets the divers learn at their own pace, but the skills need to be completed to progress and ultimately to complete the course.

scuba diving training either padi or ssi
Pool sessions learning to dive

Second Different: The Training Material

With the PADI certification, you will need to buy the course manual, which is required by PADI. You can buy the e-learning kit directly from PADI or a dive center.

Also, PADI doesn’t allow you to share the material with other people due to each manual or e-learning kit having a PIC (Personal Identification Certification) associated with it.

Without it, your instructor can not certify you at the end of the course. Whereas SSI does not require to buy the course manual.

With the #PADI certification, you will need to buy the course manual, Whereas #SSI does not require to buy the course manual. share with a friend

Delivery of Certification Cards

Both SSI and PADI will deliver your dive card once you will have completed your course. SSI does it straight at the end of your course and PADI sends it to your home address.

In the meantime, you will get an email as proof of certification from PADI.

Can I Dive Without My PADI Card?

No, you need your dive card and dive logbook. This proves and shows that you have a dive cert and that when you dived last. With PADI and SSI, you can access your data on the web in just a few clicks so you can continue diving without your card.

Always carry your dive cards but also sign up for PADI e-cards, which are stored on an App on your phone.

If you have recently got certified, PADI will email you a temporary card by your instructor is acceptable proof. Whereas SSI does it straight at the end of your course.

SSI vs PADI, Is There A Price Difference

If you complete the Open Water Certification at the dive center then there is not really any major difference. As mentioned earlier in the article if you complete the online learning with SSI which is free, then there is a major saving.

A lot of dive centers are affiliated with both PADI and SSI. And offer SSI courses cause they are shorter and cheaper for divers. This difference is the theory currently free online and with PADI you are required to purchasing the theoretical course material.

SSI is cheaper if the diving theory is completed online.

What is The Better Choice PADI or SSI?

The difference between PADI and SSI is very small but there are no real differences between them other than the theory section and the cost around the section. PADI or SSI both offer a top Open Water certification and produce capable divers.

Ultimately, It’s not the certification body that makes the quality of the training, but the instructor who actually teaches you.

The dive Instructor makes the course. As a new diver, it is important to feel comfortable and engaged with the dive instructor. And it’s important that you feel confident learning with the instructors. Good instructors are patient and the students are comfortable around the diving instructors.

How Long is The PADI Cert Valid For?

There is no expiry date with the PADI certification, meaning the PADI Open Water Diver certification is good for life. There is a required that you dive at least 1 dive within a year, so there can’t be a gap greater than 1 year.

If you have not dived in over a year not you may need to refresh your skills through the PADI ReActivate or Scuba Review class.

There is no expiry date with the #PADI certification, meaning the PADI Open Water #Diver certification is good for life. #scubadiving share with a friend

How Long is The SSL Cert Valid For?

SSI scuba diving certifications do not expire, the certification card is valid for life. It is advised that divers dive at least once every year and keep refreshing on the diving knowledge learned on the courses.

There is no expiry date with the #SSI certification, meaning the Open Water certification is good for life. #scubadiving share with a friend

SSI advises that you dive at least six times per year. As practice will improve your skills as well as your confidence in the water.