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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
my 2 (euro)cents:

quality of diving training depends only on the quality of the instructor.

from my experience working as a divemaster i would say that maybe 70 % of divers are not safe, they are not aware what´s going on, they violate the most basic rules (ascent rates, buddy distance, diveprofile etc).
also, almost all of them were PADI certified.

i´m an instructor since 1992 and i crossed over to PADI 3 years ago.

why does PADI have such a bad reputation :

1 it´s the biggest organisation there is. if not the biggest then definitely one of the biggest. therefore ´bad´divers are naturally almost always coming from PADI.
2 the PADI system allows shortcuts. how else can it be explained that there are open water courses done in 3 days?? since the student and the instructor sign every training step and keep the paperwork as proof of training for years it´s all legal.
3since diving is so popular and every shop wants to make some money there is no more `performance based system`.

physics and physiology weren´t changed by PADI. if you take their teaching materials you get the job done same as with any other organisations books. true, lots of pictures and explanations for the feeble minded bt it´s definitely all there.

what i would like to see in some of my fellow PADI instructors :

guys, it´s your job to teach those people well. don´t certify somebody who you think hasn´t completed all the requirements EVEN if it means you lose some money for that student.

be more aware about your responsibility towards your customers. i wouldn´t work in a shop where i would have to do a course in 3 days.

and be also aware that there other then PADI. and those guys might know their ***** too. read some books now and then, keep updated with research and developments and don´t just preach the BIBLE.

i personally always remember my days as a diveguide and my ambition is to certify people who will at one point dive with some guide, and i don´t want that guy to be asking ´who the fuck certified you?????´.
PADI doesn´t certify anybody, it´s instructors only.

finally i just have to say that i really enjoy the level of arguments that are beeing brought forward here, and generally on the freediving section.
i just visited the general scuba section and went through the posts in the ´freediver dies during record breaking attempt´. the quality of arguments there really put me off.

quoting pjm : wet feet and no leaks to everyone



instructors make the difference

A number of people have pointed out that what really makes the difference of good teaching is not necessarily the agency but the INSTRUCTOR teaching the course.
I certainly agree with that.

And with that in mind I believe that PADI does not fully appreciate the impact that the personal experience of an instructor and the interaction with him or her has on the motivation and learning success of students.

That is demonstrated by moves (as strange as that may seem) to increasingly MINIMIZE the role of the instructor in the course, by substituting as much as possible of the personal presentations and demonstrations by videos. (at least the members' newsletters went that way, which is, in part, why I quit my PADI membership)
While these materials are great and may enhance the learning progress I do not think that they can substitute for personal teaching by a (most of all) experienced diver, even during theory.

It doesn't greatly increase your trust in your instructor when you get the feeling that his own agency rather speaks to you directly from the screen than let him do it in his own words. Also, it's arguable whether that enhances the compliance with teaching standards, the purported aim. The effort should rather be spent to more uniformly train instructors capable of doing the right thing, and here PADI could in my view do a lot better.

It's also clear that after a 4-day crash course in scuba, few feel confident to do self-sufficiently what they are now certified to do (DIVING).
Unfortunately, PADI caters all-to eager for that insecurity by not requiring - or even encouraging - a number of dives in DM-company before enrolling in Advanced. If the AOW isn't supposed to be an "advanced" course, as suggested by Stuey, doesn't help because then the OW shouldn't be sold for what it is sold for. Experience could (and should) be acquired less costly than by immediate AOW. No wonder there's so much talk about money when PADI is mentioned.

Apart from the above: I have really no problems showing my PADI card instead of my CMAS (FFESSM) certifications at dive centers. No certification agency is "failsafe" such that, e.g. dive centers wouldn't need to do check-dives anymore. And after the check-dive they know (or at least have a good feeling) about your diving cometency anyway. So, no need for a priori patronizing behaviour towards PADI divers.


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Hi all ;
Going off on a slight tangent : how do you feel about the prerequisites for becoming an instructor .
Nowadays it is possible to sign up for your first diving experience in eg. Jan. and be an instructor a few months later .
I see a lot of that in the resort locations I've worked at .
People come to Koh Tao ; decide they like the lifestyle and buy their instructor ticket ...:head
These instructors have never dived off Koh Tao , have no experience of eg. drift/cold/altitude diving ; don't know what a J- valve LOOKS like , never used a capillary depth gauge ....
How can one of these instructors train a DMT to become the next generation instructor if they have virtually no experience themselves ? :duh
It's embarrasing to watch them squirm when a student asks a question that can't be answered straight out of their training manual .
Listening to one giving a naturalist briefing can be entertaining though , someone (an instructor) ;at a dive site recently had to waddle over to me in full gear to ask what an invertebrate was since she had to identify some for her students ...
Instructor Experience

FWIW, I woud LOVE to get my DMT ticket but, until I had enough experience, I wouldn't feel comfortable hanging a shiingle out to actually SAY I was an instructor.

I can understand an instructor who is new to an area being a little off but that doesn't mean that they are not a good instructor for SCUBA. .... It just means that they have no business being in the real ocean with the students at that particular location. They can do the pool work and the class room but until they have some dives under their belt in the area in which they are teaching, they really shouldn't be taking students down....

I have done some teaching in my life (other expertise, i. e. computer networks) and I was one of the few experts in my company in this particular field so I felt comfortable doing it but, if I didn't I personally would NOT have done it.

An instructor should be well-versed and have experience comensurate with the subject they are teaching. The guys that taught the cert class for my wife (yes, there were two, one for hte class and pool, the other for the real ocean) were both really good for their particular areas. THAT is what makes a quality instructor and a safe diver!

Instant Instructors - Just add water!!

Abriapnea - good points!

Two things - firstly, most areas will employ anyone with an appropriate ticket; especially if they certified them - its cheaper that way! ... So economics bite again.

Secondly, no instructor who cares about who he teaches, what he taeches and where he does it would consider doing so without the appropriate levels of experience and local knowledge of each site ..... hopefully (please forgive the non-chauvanist use of the word He).

Diving is a "hands on" sport coupled with a theoretical base for safety and understanding. To that end, instructors are duty-bound to TRAIN not just educate!

In UK we have sex education in schools
We do not have sex training! There IS a difference between the two methodologies.

Wet feet & no leaks.

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I've been a PADI diver for a dozen years now and have done a lot of diving, both commercial & recreational, and my two cents worth is that the certifying board doesn't make nearly as much difference to how good a diver you are as the instructor that you get. There are divers out there from all walks that wouldn't know bouyancy control if it smacked them in the face, and that is down to either no practice or shocking instruction.

Does anyone know of any diving organisation that has actually failed a person doing their basic open water courses after 3 or so days saying words like "you're just not cut out for diving yet you need more practice, practice, practice".

Or do most people just get passed?

Is diving like learning to dive. I know I failed my UK driving test 3 times before passing and I am told that I am now a very good driver (by freinds etc - not actually my own opinion) Annoying as it was the extra tuition did work!

Failing a cert test

Originally posted by sjwhelan

Does anyone know of any diving organisation that has actually failed a person doing their basic open water courses after 3 or so days saying words like "you're just not cut out for diving yet you need more practice, practice, practice".

Or do most people just get passed?


FWIW - When I took my OpenWater 1 course (NAUI) way back in 1985, the class started with 22 guys (we were all stationed onboard the same ship in Norfolk, VA and got a group together to get our certs). 4 failed the final written exam and were denied certification, 1 failed the last pool practical exam and had to do that part again, and as far as I know, my buddy and I were the only ones to actually go and get our checkout dives done. Of course, I think some of the other guys did go to Nags Head NC or something later but the two of us got our checkout done in St. Thomas when the ship pulled back in there 1 month after we had all our pool and written work completed. The shop in Norfolk arranged it with a shop in Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas and we got done.

The bottom line is, yes, I have seen people fail and not get their certs....

Well that's NAUI and pleasing to hear to say the very least. Excellent.

Of course there is also the mighty PADI and the other organisations to think of (I understand philosophies are not all the same). To be frank I feel that your reply to my question is perhaps one of the best recommendations I have heard to train with NAUI.

What about the rest - anyone else got failed?

Does any organisation publish failure rates?

Yours interestingly
I have had to fail two students. was not a comfortable feeling, but I stand by it. If they come back and want to take another course I'll gladly teach them again, but they just wern't ready.

Originally posted by Amphibious
I have had to fail two students. was not a comfortable feeling, but I stand by it. If they come back and want to take another course I'll gladly teach them again, but they just wern't ready.


I can understand that it may have been uncomfortable but I beleive you did the right thing.

It is difficult to learn from the mistakes of others, so be rest assured that the two you failed will have taken more away from the experience than you might think. If they do eventually pass don't you think that they'll be better divers for it?

I have had some awful dives checking out new equipment and alike when none of it was working correctly. Awful dive yes - but I learned a lot in learning not to panic - just deal with the situation.
These dives could be considered as failures as I never got what I planned but always see the cup as half full I took more away from the situations than I lost.

Those you failed for not being ready will, in the end, have learned more about themselves and their limitations.

Failure is not a bad thing - I look forward to it.


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I have failed PADI DMT 's , gave them the choice of re-doing certain segments or take a referral and find an instructor willing to certify them as is .
On IANTD tech courses I have the right to not certify a student on inproper attitude even if all course prerequisites are met .
Never done it though .

Fantastic weopon in the armoury should you need to use it - particularly when you are getting serious bad attitude! I reckon it's pure luck that you haven't needed to excercise your instructor muscles yet - but it will happen


:t :t :t
NAUI has a similar practice. "would you let this person dive with your friend/wife/loved one/etc..." doesn't matter if they pass all the tests- if the answer is no, they don't belong in the water.

never had to use it - hope I never will

Agencies set rules, provide materials, marketing, etc.

Training is done by an individual. I believe it is that individual that makes all the difference. They enforce, monitor, and perhaps even ignore any and all rules set forth by an agency. It is from them that experience is gained - not PADI or any other intangible corporation. Individuals teach you. And, like so many other things, it is definitely "garbage in, garbage out".

I am not an instructor, but I often help out and sit in on my local dive shop's classes. Good experience for me, the instructor has someone to demonstrate with and I also haul tanks. :t
I have seen many students fail. Many times it's from not being comfortable enough in the water. Either they can't clear thier mask or ears effectively, repeatedly panicing (either in the pool or open water) or something along those lines.

A good teacher is spotted by both what they do and don't do. How well do they teach the material, how much do they care about thier students? These are things they do. I once sat in with an instructor who was teaching a couple who was planning on going diving on vacation in the virgin islands. They had been doing average throughout the classroom and pool sessions (nothing bad, nothing great) when on the last pool session the gentleman came to the surface and sat on the edge of the pool for 15 mins or so. When we swam up to check on him, he said his heart was "giving him problems, but he would be alright in a bit". Turns out he suffered from random sever tachycardia and could go into mild infarction at times. When that happened he just took a couple of pills and it goes away in 15 minutes. When asked what he was going to do if it happened at 60 feet he replied "I will just take a stainless steel pillcase with me and take my meds when I am down there". When he was pressed about the medical evaluation forms he admitted that he just got his general practitioner to sign off on the form and he didn't consult his cardiologist at all. When the instructor failed him but passed his wife he became VERY upset, said that no one had to know, he had already paid, etc., but the instructor did not back down much to her credit.

The point of the story is this. She (the instructor) had the paperwork, had invested the time in instructing him, and could have passed him and no one would have known better. Her paycheck would have looked better. But she did what was right and probably saved that guys life even though he wasn't appreciative of it at all. To me that is what being a good instructor is all about. Taking an active interest in the well-being and training of your students first and foremost. SSI, PADI, BSAC doesnt matter in the least if you don't have the right person teaching you how to stay alive underwater.

Oh yea, the other lesson would be don't dive with a heart condition. But hopefully all of you already knew that.

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I think the overall picture is that it really doesn't matter which agency you use - they are really all very similar.

What really counts is the instructor you get. As you can't tell what the instructor is like until you are already into a course, my view (which has always been the same) is to go on a recommendation of someone whose judgment you trust.

Cheers all
My training is with SSI, and it's been very positive. The instructor had a lot of experience and gave the students a lot of individual attention. Most importantly (to me), he never got upset about anything and never made demands on the students when they were upset. If other training agencies have instructors that are patient and their students learn how to dive well, that's good enough.
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Hi I am just about to complete my dare I say PADI Open water, I am trying to fit in a few dives then it's off to Dubai to complete my Advanced Open Water. Things that I have noticed.

1) The course is FAR too short, would you allow a person drive a car after 3 - 4 lessons... NO

2) Yip I would agree about the instructor, I am not particularly impressed with our guys to be honest and really want the course to finish so that I can go to a dive centre I feel is more responsible and professional. I am not the only person on the course to think this.

3)The cost..... Not one person has mentioned how bloomin expensive diving is, especially in sunny Scotland. Now I appreciate that diving is an expensive hobby, but was not prepared for the gargantuan cost associated with every piece of equipment, the courses, renting of equipment etc. It is no wonder that people only participate in courses on holiday once a year, become certified and that's it for another year.

And for what it's worth not The snobbery I have encountered is ridicules..... I'm trained with this agency so I must be better.. Jings will I constantly be thinking does my bum look big in this ;pp
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Here's a story from my Instructing past.
I was to teach a PADI Rescue course to 4 Volunteeer Firefighters.
Three of them had read the book, none of them had done the pool sessions, and one of them had done neither. We were standing on the beach and I asked him if he had read the book and done all the knowledge reviews. He showed me his book- it still had the wrapper on it, and these guys had bought and paid for their course over 6 months earlier (in the cold winter here it is impossible to teach the outdoor part of this course).
I was not happy that none of them had done a pool session run-through of the basic rescue procedures, but they were all supposedly firefighters, so I let it go. PADI does not require the pool session, and they all knew how to do some of the lifts and AR/ rescue breathing. One guy was in great shape, the other 3 were fat and obviously in for a surprise as the Rescue course is mostly swimming and is very demanding (the way I taught it).
However, i told the guy with the unopened book that I wasn't prepared to teach him the course. He was pissed off, demanding that I teach him. At the time I was sub-contracting for a local shop, and told him that 1: it's up to me if I think the person is not ready, and 2: I don't want to teach anyone that can't even be bothered to read the manual. Why should I? He phoned the shop, the shop owner phoned me freaking out that he was going to have to give this guy his money back and the PADI Course Director was adamant that it didn't matter what order everything in the course was done. I said tough, I'm not teaching him.
When I took that course, I had to have the book read before the classes, then there was a 6 hour classroom presentation, an exam. the pool session, then the outdoor weekend in the water. Now there's no classroom, no pool session, and one can do the course in any order they want? Screw that.
The other 3 guys did ok and passed the course. Even the out of shape ones passed....barely.
If you work full time for somebody, sometimes you are in a position where you may pass or even train people that shouldn't be in the water. When you aren't, it's easier to make the right decision. But as an Instructor, it's on your conscience that there are people with cards that shouldn't have them.

I never taught courses for that shop again :)

Erik Y.
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Totally agree with the idea that if you're not happy teaching them, you tell 'em to sod off. If you end up taking them in anyway, they not only put themselves at risk, but they put you and the other students at risk too.

Yeah it's pricey diving here in the UK ain't it? We have the lovely expense of drysuits, cold water regulators and decent weight systems in addition to the other stuff. Damn you wetsuit divers...
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