What scuba certification is best?

What scuba certification is best

You’ve decided to take that exciting step to become a certified scuba diver! Read here to learn more about what to expect. But why are there so many different scuba diving companies and what scuba certification is best?

Let’s look at the main companies that certify scuba divers.


The professional association of diving instructors (PADI) was founded in 1966 by John Cronin and Ralph Erickson. Together, they created what today is the world’s largest scuba training organization. With the slogan “The Way the World Learns to Dive”, this training organization is exactly that, global.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, PADI developed a structured course that split the requirements to become a certified open water diver with more advanced techniques reserved for the advanced open water course and specialty courses. This split allowed the opportunity for more people to scuba dive. Instructor training aids and curriculum were also developed during the 70’s and 80’s. Additionally, in the 1980’s, PADI led a research study on hyperbaric diver tables that eventually led to the Recreational Dive Planner. Furthermore, PADI also partners with Project Aware which is a nonprofit organization with a goal for ocean conservation.

PADI operates in 186 countries with student material available in over 26 languages. Recreational and technical diving are offered.

One million certifications are given out annually. PADI just certified its 27th million diver!


The National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) was the world’s first civilian diver training agency and is nonprofit. It has its roots dated back to 1955 when the first underwater instructor course was developed. Their slogan “Dive Safety Through Education” is an example of just how they do business to keep divers safe. Al Tillman, John C. Jones, Jr., Neal Hess, Jim Auxier, and Chuck Blakeslee are among the early pioneers of this organization. Additionaly, Jacques-Yves Cousteau even served on their board of advisors at one time.

NAUI gained recognition even more so when the series “Sea Hunt” aired from 1958-1961. The actors were recognized as honorary NAUI members.

To help support ocean conservation, NAUI partners with the NAUI Green Diver Initiative. NAUI operates in many countries. Additionally, in 1997, NAUI helped develop standards for teaching technical diving.


Scuba Schools International (SSI) was founded in 1970. SSI is found in over 110 countries with educational materials in over 30 languages. Their slogan “Comfort Through Repetition” is something that could be employed to all agencies, but has a sense of putting the student’s mind at ease.


Established in 1998, Scuba Diving International (SDI) is one of the newer organizations. SDI is a sister company of Technical Diving International (TDI) which was founded in 1994. SDI operates in more than 100 countries.

This organization originally focused more on advanced diving. TDI is the largest technical diver training agency in the world.


All of these organizations, PADI, NAUI, SSI, SDI, meet the requirements for the Global International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification.

If you walk into a dive shop anywhere in the world, a certification card from any of these companies will be honored. Thus, the question “what scuba certification is best?” is hard to define.

What scuba certification in best?

Of course, this list is not all-inclusive. There are several other agencies that will certify in scuba diving. Overall, there are minor differences in the names of the different certification levels, numbers of dives, and order of skills to be completed. However, these certifications will all give you access to diving all over the world. Usually, people pick an organization based on proximity to where they live. If you are lucky to live in an area with multiple options, that is great! Do your own research. Any of these organizations will do what you want: get you in the water safely. It really is a great instructor that will make your diving experience really enjoyable.

Everyone will say that the organization they were certified through or work with is the best. So yes, I am biased to one of these companies. Ask me in the comments! However, I have walked into other companies’ dive shops numerous times, and they are always helpful.

What scuba certification is best? The one that is best for you!

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