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The Best Training Agency?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.

Who is the best Scuba Training Agency

  • PADI

    Votes: 41 30.4%
  • CMAS

    Votes: 12 8.9%
  • NAUI

    Votes: 17 12.6%
  • SSI

    Votes: 14 10.4%
  • BSAC

    Votes: 8 5.9%
  • TDI

    Votes: 8 5.9%

    Votes: 5 3.7%
  • Other...

    Votes: 14 10.4%
  • Training? I've heard of that

    Votes: 4 3.0%
  • Uhhhh...Scuba? What on earth is that...

    Votes: 12 8.9%

  • Total voters

Stephan Whelan

Papa Smurf
Staff member
Jan 7, 1999
I thought i'd stir things up a bit with a small poll...who do you think is the best Scuba Training Agency? :D
re: best scuba training agency

My vote goes to CMAS even if I made my PADI's "open water" and "advanced openwater plus."

When I met my wife, who made her CMAS (level I and II) training in France, I simply realised that she had a better training that I did.

CMAS levels are much more difficult. It demands more to the divers, and it looks way more serious. I first thought that it was too much for nothing, but I understood that it was really worth it when I switch to CMAS.

Why did I switch to CMAS ? :confused:

Because PADI divers are not well recognized. After being treated has a stupid PADI diver so many times around the world, I thought that maybe there was something there. So if you want a certificate that is really respected from everybody, GO CMAS !! ;)

But I have to tell you something. If you do have a PADI avanced plus, if someone with a CMAS II tells you that you're just a stupid PADI divers ... ask him to take the compass and you will have the time of your life !! (but certainly not the dive of your life) hahaha ! The compass seems to be absolutely absent from CMAS training (in level I and II) ... I think that this is absolutely incredible !

So finally, I think that the mixed training (PADI-CMAS) was the best thing that I could find. :t

Along the way I've taken classes from 3 of the major US agencies (NAUI - OpenWater, SSI - Advanced & Research, PADI - Nitrox). Of the 3 I'd have to rank them from best to worst SSI, NAUI, PADI. Obviously thats a pretty small sample to be make statements on but hey, its my freakin opinion. ;)

However, the Instructor is what makes the class and I'm sure there are great ones in all agencies. There just seem to be more mediocre teaching goin on in PADI. I've seen some pretty bad divers and some really good ones. But the worst always seem to be PADI... although it may be a by-product of cranking out so many.

The one burning question I have is "why are OW divers not required to get 10 or more dives on there own before being allowed to take advanced??" I've seen so many PADI divers jumping straight from OW to Advanced and never diving without an instructor. Which of course leads to really bad PADI "advanced" divers and, I believe, PADI's bad rap.

I always present my SSI card when I can to avoid being stereotyped as a "PADI" diver.
Training as part of a BSAC Club has to be one of the best. The initial training is a session once a week so you build up skills gradually. There is no real time limit so you can practice the skills as much as you need to before taking the assesment. Training over several weeks means the skills become second nature and you wont forget them as quickly as you might if they are all taught in a one off session.

PADI has to get my vote for the worst - I worked on a dive boat in OZ for a while and had to re-teach numerous PADI OW divers basic skills such as kitting up, what the inflate button does etc!!
Interesting thoughts...

I was initially trained in a BSAC club and am still a BSAC Direct member, and certainly appreciate their training style - however over the years i've come to appreciate PADI a little bit more.

Whenever a friend asks me how to learn to dive, my first question is what they want to achieve (one trip and dive only, or long term addiction) and then usually recommend PADI for a one-off, or BSAC if they want to dive on a longer basis.

Of course this is biased to the UK side of things as BSAC isn't as well know WorldWide as PADI is - in that case I recommend doing AT LEAST PADI O/W and Advanced in one go, then moving onto Rescue Diver or something similar ASAP to make sure they have the skills necessary.
Well then, it looks like PADI bashing time. A few comments from a PADI Instructor ....

1. The PADI advanced rating is not really an Advanced rating as such. The idea behind the programme is to give divers additional experience under instructor supervision on more advanced diving topics such as deep diving, wreck diving etc.

2. If anyone has had a bum deal withy PADI, or any other agency, then report them to their agency and complain to the Dive Centre manager. I've you've paid hard earned cash, then your entitled to good service and top quality training.

3. I've studied the training materials of SSI, BSAC, PADI and CMAS and think PADI's are the most comprehensive, best laid out and do exactly what is said on the tin. Bear in mind that most agencies are affiliated to the RSTC and so should meet the minimum standards required for basic diver training.

4. Why were they crap divers ?, could it be it was a year since they've passed their OW and genuinely forgotten. PADI rightly advise that if this is the case, then an update programme should be taken.

5. I've never taken the view that because a divers been trained withg such and such agency, that they're by default better divers. There are f**k wits out there who'll never be good responsible divers. Also there are those that will always want to dive with a professional, and why not !

6. Stephan's advice at the bottom is a little misguided, I think it should go along the lines of .. When do you need to get certified by (and by the way that's not a excuse to certify poor students) i.e. a holiday. When, where and how often will you dive in the future. Do you like the club atmosphere ?. For myself when I started the answers were NOW, Hadn;t thought about it and NO.


Stuey- (a PADI & proud of it diver)
I have my PADI OW and IDEA Advanced OW plus other quailifications. Both of the main courses were good training, but as I read in an earlier thread, it is the instructor that make the difference. I watched a group that came to a Fla. spring for their check dives, the instructor got out yelling (literally) at the group, and running the class through like an assembly line. My wife, who is a nondiver, was watching, and stated she would not use that dive shop for anything.
Dive operations that concentrate on quality of training, and want the best for their students, push hard for that attribute, not quantity, regardless of their certifing agencies. I worry less about what kind of card the person I dive with has, and more about what he knows and how confortable in the water they are.


I don't think we're doing PADI bashing - most people in the world are trained with PADI and I certainly respect the ability of the organisation to traing divers to a certain standard.

However, every training organisation has it's plus and minus points. I'm not overly impressed that it is very easy to be a very bad diver with PADI due to the speed of training and lack of on-going supervision after completing training, but then again as you say - poor divers can come through any agency.
I have completed training courses with CMAS,NAUI,PADI and IANTD and am currently an instructor with both PADI and IANTD.
I believe all these agencies , as well as the others provide adequate training to produce good divers.
However some are geared towards training local residents and can therefore afford more extensive programs , whereas others are more focused on holidaymakers in resort areas , with correspondingly limited times.
Any of these agencies can turn out a "bad" diver since what you get out depends on what you put in , and since PADI clearly dominates the market I guess you are more likely to encounter a less proficient novice diver with a PADI cert.
As a PADI MSDT , and having taught three other agencies and studied most training materials available - it comes down to the the biggest agency trains the most - hence statistically the numbers will reflect - most accidents come from PADI . The bottom line is that PADI has over the years provided the market will quality products service and back up worldwide - which is something a lot of other agencies detest - its called the tall poppy syndrome
A professional is a professional , and PADI has the most professional product worldwide
I am a PADI Instructor also SDI & TDI. For my money, PADI is one of the best agencies. They put out great products, and do a number of good things for diving as a whole. As mentioned before, the problem lies with the instructor. I know some very good PADI instructors. I also know some very bad ones as well. There are PADI instuctor training facilities out there that are more interested in the number of instructors they put out than the quality. I personnally believe the requirements for instructor should be tougher. I wouldn't want to be trained by someone with only a year of diving experience and just over 100 dives.
Students also have to keep diving in order to be a good diver. You can't dive on vacation once a year and expect to be good. We push continued education constantly, and I tell students of mine they are welcome to come dive with me anytime I'm at the ocean or come back and help with class'. The ones that do turn out to be the best divers.


I haven't voted in the poll because all my training has been with PADI - because that's what was available for me when I wanted to learn.

However - from both this discussion and similar in the diving press - what is evident to me is that it is the quality of the instructor and the attitude of the student that are far more important than the agency involved.

PADI may have its flaws - I certainly felt very exposed on my first dive as a qualified (Open Water) diver so I took more training and continue do so - but it satisfies my needs.

Too easy...

I won't vote as I don't feel qualified to make such a statement. My wife and I just finished our PADI open water class two weeks ago. So far this is our only SCUBA training. We had 9 students and three very attentive instructors for our four open water dives. Based on various things I've heard I'd say that all three of our instructors where very good.

Now having said that, I am amazed that what we did now qualifies us to dive on our own. And based on a review I read of the organizations in question it sounds like PADI is by no means the only one whose standards for basic open water certification are so meager. I'd have to say that for the majority of the people that go through such a class, the certification level should be more along the lines of:

"Your now qualified to join an organized dive trip and dive under the supervision of a qualified dive master."

I guess though that most people do just that and don't try to go on their own or we'd here about a lot more accidents. I know there are plenty of people who with just the class we took have the self control and objective ability to evaluate a situation compared to their experience and know when to "just say no" to a dive. But years of rock climbing and caving experience tells me that there are also plenty who won't fall into that category.

But then I guess that all falls into the grand plan of the various organizations to sell more classes. As that was the final parting admonition from our instructors. Continue the education.

Pay Another Dive Instructor....

People Against Diving Intelligently.....

Painfully Accepting Decompression Illness.....

Or after years in Dive Rescue,

Pay-for Another Diving Incident!

(every person I pulled out of the water was a padi diver - no exceptions)

just to stir things up.....

Most have been pointed out in previous replys, here are my perceptions after 20 years in the dive industry.

PADI generally has done the best in the creation, translation and evolution of training support materials to make training simpler and more standardized across countries, languages, etc.

The quality of training will still ultimately be driven by the quality of the instructor. Unfortunately PADI trains the largest number of instructors and by mere statistics alone will have a greater number of crappy "do ONLY the minimum" instructors, etc.

Not many students will really have much reference on what makes a "bad" "good" "great" instructor; they'll measure their comfort with the logistics of the training and rappore with the instructor.

For the record, I'm a fan of continuing education and periodic formal review being a REQUIREMENT of Instructors. To the best of my knowledge it's not in place in any agency at this time.
experience counts

I have another one for PADI: "Put Another Dollar In"

In my opinion (I'm a CMAS 1* instructor) CMAS is for people who have a lot of time but not a lot of money: people who want to take the time to learn and get experienced before moving on to the next level. People who plan to regularly dive for life and enjoy the social life in a diving club.

PADI on the contrary is for people with lots of money and little time: perfect for people who want to learn to dive and only have a week or so of holidays. Many PADI divers I encountered only dive a few times a year during their holidays, which is The reason for them being so clumsy. They just don't get regular trainings during the rest of the year !

What is true of PADI is that their courses are indeed set up very clearly and they have a very good standard system. (But then it also costs a small fortune !)
In CMAS the orientation of your training often depends on the instructor who teaches you: there are of course general requirements that you should meet but the emphasis on certain skills differs from diving school to diving school.

I don't know the exact protocols of diving organisations other than CMAS but from judging the skill level of people I dove with BSAC and IANTD are very good, as well as TDI, followed by SSI and after that NAUI and PADI.

The main point is: if you want to learn to dive, know that skill comes from experience, no matter what diving organisation you're in.

Have fun diving !

Re: experience counts

Originally posted by Lynn

The main point is: if you want to learn to dive, know that skill comes from experience, no matter what diving organisation you're in.
Have fun diving !

I've been waiting for a long while for somone here to recognize that. Thanks.

I'm a BSAC diver, and find that for me as a British diver it's the best option. The majority of PADI training is through dive schools and shops, and that doesn't have the social aspect, to me it seems like you spend a few days being taught, then you have to sort out the rest on your own. In a BSAC club there's never a shortage of buddies, and you can take as long as you need to cover the course, without the pressure of thinking "it's costing me more to learn because I'm taking longer".
The major problem with the BSAC system however, is that as a student you are completely dependent upon volunteers for instruction. The instructors aren't paid to teach you to dive, and it can be problematic at times to get training sessions sorted when an instructor is available and willing to instruct. Sadly many of the BSAC instructors I know seem to have taken the instructor route to say "look at me, I'm an instructor" but aren't really as willing to instruct as they could be. One example is a month or so ago I said to one of our instructors that I needed to get my sports diver out of the way asap, but I was told that it would be unlikely to be soon because it depended on what everyone else was doing leisure dive-wise. It wasnt until I informed him that I needed the qualification soon due to my intentions to join the navy as a clearance diver that I got the response that I should have recieved in the first place. Granted, not all instructors are like this, infact most arent, but there are a few that you really need to push to get them to do their "job" within the club, and this is where I can really see the benefits to the professional agencies such as PADI.
One of our best instructors recently left the club and became an IANTD instructor, but actually runs the courses at a discounted rate for members of our club.
But as has already been said in this thread, as long as the proper techniques and theory are taught, then the result once the training is complete should be similar, regardless of the agency, and also experience is important.

On the other hand I'm looking forward to my next lot of dive training, to become a Royal Navy diver, should be fun, and lots of hard work.
Last edited:
Hi all - very new to the site ... only just found it!

I can only comment on CMAS, PADI & BSAC .. but, THE important thing is whichever org you use/spurn/deride or pay your mortgage to they all have the same aim ... get people into the water.

Some are faster, some are safer, some are fun and scary but they all achieve the aim!!

Wet feet and no leaks to everyone.
Best Training Agenvcy - My 2 Europennies

I am not so sure if the agency is a bigger factor or the instructor....

I got my Open Water 1 through NAUI and my Advanced Open Water through PADI. Both times, I got hooked up with VERY knowledgable and thorough instructors. In fact, one of the bog laughs that I had during my Adv (navigation) checkout was when the instructor made me wander around the parking lot using a compass to show him that I really did know how to use one (I was in the Navy for 10 years and had done lots of backpacking with Topo maps in the Colorado mountains before that). I walked from the Bagel Shop to the hairdresser to the street and back to the dive shop to do a square (Landmarks, you know :D ) and then a triangle, and then, just had to show the math for a Pentagon and an octogon :yack

The instructors actually DID read the assignments from the book that I did and checked them against the "correct" answers so, as far as "Put Another Dollar In" they were Dollars that I feel were well spent because I got more than what I paid for in the cert.

On the other hand, my "buddy"on the Deep and the Boat dives was an SSI grad and she darn near got herself and the instructor in DEEP Poo by taking off over the edge of a wall at 90' with less than 1000 lbs of air at the end of a dive :duh . Talk about a serious reverse profile! Instructor sent me topside and then chased her down. Finally caught her at 130' and she was still heading down. While I was doing my 3 minute 15' safety stop, they were doing a 10 minute deco at 30' and THEN had to do the 15'. They came back sucking fumes from their tanks < 100 lbs for the instructor and not enough for her. They had to share his tank at the 15' stop. Seems that she never heard that depth is deceiving and getting narked is NOT all fun and games.

All said and done, I was quite happy with both NAUI and PADI.... It is the education and not the name on the card that matters!!
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