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 knew 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 us compare the PADI vs SSI certifications.
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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 their 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 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 are printed in more than 26 languages.
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 are 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.
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 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.
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.
And this is 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 is 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.
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.
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 buying the course manual.
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 is 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 requirement 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.
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 the diving knowledge learned in the courses.
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.
Is PADI And SSI Recognized Worldwide?
SSI and PADI are just two of those diving training agencies recognized internationally. As noted all standards are set forth by the WRSTC (World Recreational Scuba Training Council).
Is SSI Recognized By PADI?
Yes, their certification levels are quite similar so you can cross between PADI and SSI as much as you want.
Completed The Diving Open Water Certification, What Next?
Well, the next course is the Advanced Open Water Diver course which will allow you to dive up to 30 meters. I would advise that you gain more experience by diving more before doing the advanced course. Particularly if your ears are giving you problems and to practice your buoyancy.
For the SSI Advanced Open, you must complete four SSI Specialty programs that interest you. And 24 logged dives, then you will automatically receive the SSI Advanced Open Water Diver recognition, along with your SSI Specialty program certifications.
And PADI, you must complete four specialty courses and requires five dives to get the Advanced Open.
Finally, PADI and SSI are essentially the same with only minor differences. PADI and SSI courses both cover the necessary skills to go scuba diving. And the required knowledge that you need in order to dive safely. And their certs are recognized worldwide.
In which one to go with depends a little on the diving center and where you plan to do the course. The quality of the course depends on the diving instructor and for that reason, I would not make using the price as your sole determining factor deciding on whether to go with SSI or PADI.
And that’s it for now! I’d love to know if this guide on SSI vs PADI, what is the difference between their scuba diving certifications has helped you. Let me know if you have any questions and let me know if there is more to add.