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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
Is all in the Hand Of An Instructor

Hi All,

IMHO... all diving agency teach safe diving practise.

The problem is when Price WAR begin to happen, price is being cut down and so does teaching time.

Insted of Quality it become Quantity... :duh

In South East Asia ... Thailand is known as Diver Factory, anybody can pass there, plenty of course director offering service, assuring 100% pass for even Instructor level.
- Call them PHUKET Instructor blur blur

Anyway if the quality of instructor being produce is 100 dives instructor...what do you expect the student to know or learn?

You can even have Open water - Instructor level Package now.
-Take your open water now & continue to be instructor after couple of month :confused:

Maybe after all it is the Agency&Instructor.... but not the student.

:D Diving is a Business .... as long as there are demand, sell it...if not create a market for it... cheap diving&fast 100% Pass
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Its the instructor

I've been an instructor for SSI and TDI, and now do Open Water instruction as an SDI affiliated instructor. A couple of things I have noted over the years ubinstructing:

1. I totally agree that the curriculum of all of the agencies are about the same, they have to be to meet the requirements of the RSTC.

2. It's not just the instructor, but the entire environment in which he/she exists. I am fortunate that I have the opportunity to teach and hold classes the way I see fit and, as long as I meet the requirements of the agency and the store I am affiliated with. I have told students (open water and advanced open water) that they needed more work to dive safely than they were going to get in our class and have worked with them post class to get them certified. The shop has always supported me.

3. The problem is not just the published requirements of the agencies/shops, it is the folks who want the instant scuba gratification thing. Some people want to walk in, get a resort course, and dive the Red Sea on a technical liveaboard. Unless you exist in an area where you are the only shop in town, you can't just turn them away and stay in business. You also can't call them excellent divers just because they buy an expensive equiment package like some folks will. Its a tough line to walk, but it has to be done in order to survive and I feel for the shop.

4. I have also had the immense pleasure of teaching folks who were truly excited and wanted nothing more than to become highly skilled divers, to experience the wonder of the underwater world in a comfortable and safe manner.

I don't have to make a living at this, its more of a second (sometimes third) job for me, but it is a labor of love. The only way I can conitnue to do this is because I can stand by my principles and get support. Not everyone is so fortunate.
I am a FFESSM Level 2 diver (it is a french own label) equivalent to a CMAS 2*.

My wife has just undergone a PADI Open Water course (the theory and pool confined session) over last week-end. After four tech dives in the sea she will be able to dive up to 20 metres I believe.

Well I think it is crazy!

Too much info, too quickly! This is what I think of the PADI course. The french one is more progressive. First you learn to be at ease in the water (mask clearing, exchange of regulator with a budy, etc..); theory wise it is light. You only learn the basic things about scuba diving. What is good about it is that it allows you to really see if you are going to enjoy scuba diving before giving you all of that scary theory (from decompression stops to dive accidents via a crash course on physics/pressure).

At the end of the first training day my wife told me "I am not doing it!", and he took all my skills to encourage her to finish the course since we are going to the Maldives.

I think the FFESSM is more progressive with the first level giving you time to adapt or make you mind (after FFESSM Level 0 you can dive up to 12 metres with an instructor or 5 metres with a budy).

However I like the PADI speciality programs. As someone said earlier about the compas (I am booked for an orientation course next week!), the FFESSM is good for the general skills but do not focus on the more specialised one (for example, I was able to do a night dive although I was told nothing except to follow closely the instructor) and that's where the PADI comes handy.

FFESSM (or CMAS) + PADI specialities = Winning Combination!

Looking forward to hear some of your views.

I must be a very lucky guy. I´ve been diving for 8 years and have met a lot of great PADI instructors.

I was first certified in Honduras. In my OW class there was a girl who just didn´t have it. So the instructor assigned a DM to follow her around on all dives to help her get comfortable in the water. He also made sure that everybody understood what we were taught in class.
When she finally decided to jump from the course he supported her decision.

It gave me a feeling of safety to see how an insecure diver was helped and supported.

Another thing i remember was that we were told that just because you are certified, it doesn´t mean you are a good enough diver to go diving alone in unknown waters.

So when i finally took the decicion to dive in Denmark, I made sure to ask around for advice. And I started in shallow water in sunny weather so that I could get used to the low viz and cold water.

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 how about me. I won't say I exactly failed - I had done the written work, aced the test, and completed all the pool sessions (except for 1 - 1/2 of them, due to a sinus cold I couldn't equalize, so I spent the time floating in the top 2' of the pool watching the other students on the bottom)


After the final pool session - I'll spare you the ugly details - the instructor and I had a little post-class chat in which he very gently informed me that he didn't feel I was yet ready for open water. He said he could see I had made big strides in progress level and I wasn't a "stop-training" - but he said my entire body language and movements were broadcasting NOT COMFORTABLE practically every time I got in the pool.

He and I mutually agreed I needed more pool time. He invited me to bring a buddy and 'play' in the pool - in scuba gear - while he was teaching the next Open Water class.

I did so. In fact, due to fate or whatever, I ended up with a variety of different buddies, most of whom were very experienced divers, and learned a LOT.

I was certified last weekend, and just yesterday did my first "away-from-the-classroom" dives!

FWIW, the instructor was NAUI (although also qualified TDI instructor I do believe) and is well known in this area for the thoroughness of his training.
Too many people engage in badge bashing, when all that really matters is diving.

I've seen PADI Open Water Students with 3000 dives that are superb (naturally)... i've seen PADI Rescue Divers with 20 dives trying to start a DM course and I've asked them to get a bit more experience first as they freeaked out on a checkout UK wreck dive (James Egan Layne). I've dived with BSAC Dive Leaders, and CMAS 2star divers that I wouldn't rate above most of my PADI OW passees. At the end of the day it aint their training organisation it comes down to their individual personality. Every entry level course with any of the agencies covers enough of the basics to make someone safe, it's up to the individual to learn it properly (ie retaining it for longer than their course lasts), the instructor can only do so much, and at the time when you let them go they all look good, otherwise you're not allowed to pass them.

I'm lucky enough that I have my own dive centre and enforce a policy of free additional training to anyone that can't pass in the minimum time. It stops instructors feeling pressured to pass a student that aint ready and ensures I can be proud when someone presents a card with my centres name on it. (by the way we also have a dive club.... and plenty of buddies without the heirachy... gotta do something to rival the BSAC beards)

All PADI instructors know that there is pressure abroad to pass people that aren't ready. If BSAC, NAUI, or CMAS had as many overseas centres then those organisations would have the same problems. But the pressure is mainly self enforced, due to inexperience, experienced instructors feel allright about failing people when necessary. PADI has more divers, more centres and therefore more inexperienced instructors, and therefore the highest inceidence of this "bad instruction" problem but it is the customers choice who they decide to learn with. The agencies provide the framework - and PADI's is undoubtedly the best (I am a BSAC, CMAS and PADI instructor).

Therefore if someone is a bad diver it is no fault but their own, either through not learning, not asking enough questions, or not bothering, or by choosing an inexperienced instructor. PADIs materials tell every customer what they should expect from their instructor in every part of their course, the overseas instructor knows this and does their best to ensure that they themselves are not caught out. And PADI certainly has one of the best quality management departments that actively questions newly certified divers to ensure standards are maintained. Once qualified the lesser able students know that they still need to work on some bits, after all even when we pass a driving course, we are still not able to drive a car that well, but at least we know the basics.

When looking at qualifications from agencies it all comes down to experience. I wouldn't expect alot from anybody with 4 - 10 dives no matter the training agency.

It really is the logbook that makes the difference.

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I am SSI OW and have enjoyed the experience, now my experience is limited but my wife is going to be taking a PADI course in Aruba while we are on vacation and I have thought about joining her just to see what it would be like..

Also can I say that I enjoy the way this board handles a topic such as this, I have just left a board that the name calling and the anamosity was just too much. Thanks
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This "survey" is a popularity contest and as such invalid in answering the question posed. The highest training standards are those of the military, CMAS, YMCA, BSAC, TDI, and IANTD. So is the question which agency has the highest standards for training or which one is the best? Two very different questions. Two day certifications, in my opinion, do not qualify a diver for status as an open-water diver. The statement that a diver's judgement and experience are more important than the standards is intriguing and does not address the stated question. But if the standards do not matter why have standards at all - just revert to people buying gear out of catalogs and on-line and reading the enclosed brochure? I notice a distinct and positive difference in divers trained by instuctors following more complete standards. This difference is probably ameliorated somewhat as experience is gained IF divers continue to learn. Since most DCS cases in the US are incurred by males over 30 it seems as if many do not continue to learn.
Agency vs. Instructor

I have been an MSDT for PADI for a little over a year now. My roommate is also an MSDT and we generally team teach. This way if we have a student that is having problems with a skill, we don't feel pressured to pass him/her and one of us can spend a little more time with that student to make sure they get the skill.

The question was asked if PADI ever fails a student. Yes, we have. Because MY name is the one that is certifying that they are capable, I want to make sure they can do it. If a student does not "get it" with the additional attention, then I or my partner offer our own time to work one-on-one with them prior to the next class. But we WILL NOT pass someone to the next module if they haven't SUCCESSFULLY completed all of the skills.

Often if there is one student having "issues" then we place even MORE emphasis on making sure they get it right. We also offer to let them spend some time getting comfortable with a skill, such as mask clear, and then return with a subsequent class. Once our divers are certified, we e-mail them whenever we're going out "pleasure diving" and invite them to join us so they have an experienced diver to be with while they're still a novice. Not only does it build their own self-sufficiency, but it gives us a chance to develop a raport with our divers and let them see that we actually "practice what we preach!" It also introduces them to other buddies that they can dive with.

We do also do "private" lessons in a 3 day session but it's not as easy as it might suggest. We spend FULL days with the individual making sure they understand the concepts and we still enforce the same standards that our week-long classes have. But we usually ensist that they have their materials ahead of time and have done all the reading and viewed the videos before they ever come into the class so that we can reinforce the material when they're here and it's not the first time they've heard something.

I've seen SSI instructors fail badly.......I've seen PADI instructors that I wouldn't trust my children with, either. It's about the instructor/diver relationship and also how strictly the instructor enforces the Agency standards!

We firmly believe scuba divers are some of the greatest people in the world and we enjoy spending OUR pleasure time with them!
They all suck.;)

And they're all good.

It really comes down to the instructor. I have had to hand my classes over to my DM to go rescue students from another instructor's class becasue he wouldn't even get into the water with them! Acutally, many of the guys I taught with had to do the same thing- and this guy was out training instructors at the same site later on in the summer! I have also seen instructors from this same agency who were total fish in the water.

I have seen crappy instructors form almost ever US based training agency, but then I have also seen very capable ones as well. I have written up instructors and seen nothing happen to them- so many standard's violations so little band width.;)

You really need to interview who is going to teach you to see if it's a good fit. The only thing that I have ever found as a good way to judege a course before you take it is to find out how much pool time you get before you go out to openwater. I have worked at some stores, granted for a only a couple of weeks, who gave students one 3-hour pool session and then sent them out, to bomb, in openwater. I have worked at other stores, for quite a few years, that alway made sure students got four to five 2-hour pool sessions before they hit the lake. This was even increased to 9 pool sessions for some 'special' cases.

As far as passing students goes, I think NAUi has it on this one over Padi, and I've been a padi instructor for 20 years now. If a student goes through the course, but the instructor doesn't think they are a safe diver, even if they passed everything, they can still fail them. Padi will not allow this, as I have talked it over with a local course director who was somewhat frustrated that he had to pass an A.I. candidate who passed the tests, but is a lousy diver- and I mean lousy!

I think that one of the best things all of the agencies could do would be to require all of their instructors to re-certify every 5 years- kind of like a pilot. I would think they would love this idea since they could make more money off of us, and they would have a closer control over who represents them. Until that time it's entirely hit of miss.

just my $0.02

Hello everybody:

I star diving in 1973 (One of my cousin put me a tank on my back and push me in to the water (yeah, I know I was lucky !!!)

When I became diving instructor in 1985, my firts diving instructor (1979) said me: is not the arrow, is the indian because I take my ITC with IDEA (International Divers Educators Agency) non profic agency, later I change to YMCA SCUBA and just a couple of years ago to SSI.

Also we are a group of instructors who take the best of our agencies ( NAUI, PADI, YMCA, LACO, CMAS, IDEA) and create our own manual in spanish. We are from Panama.

Experience teach me to keep with YMCA SCUBA, one because is the oldest in USA and have the highest standarts (the rest in USA imitate) They are so high that CMAS recognize YMCA scuba divers (for me CMAS is equal to YMCA Scuba).

PADI and SSI are money makers agency ( that the general opinion) Non profit organizations do not have the pressaure to certificate just for the money.

For me CMAS, YMCA Scuba, BSAC, DCIEM and NAUI are the best organizations to learn scuba diving in a very safety way. I dont want to say that PADI, SSI have the worts instructor, I know a couple of good ones, but just few. Also I know a couple of bad instructor for YMCA Scuba but you count with one hand.

This is my personal opinion. Just to finish, Teaching in Europe is very diferent compare with USA and also Panama.

The most important thing is look the student like a person not like a Dollar Symbol $$$

Sorry about my english weitting, and I hope everybody undestand me.


Blue Shark
I want to at to my recently e-mail:

Sure, is the instructor not the agency, but if you dont have a solid basement imagine the top!!! Sooner or later the building colapse.

The instructor need to have the maturity and experience to said to the student you pass, you do not pass.

I saw instructor on the firts day aprove an student for a course, A student that barely swinm !!! Imagene that !!! The same instructor gave a basic course, advance course and rescue course in one week end togheters !!! He do think also on himself !!! Who regulate this?? This gay gave those courses with the ok for the diving store and the instructor trainer !!! Why because the store and the instructor have to made money !!!

Maybe I am old fashion but we have to try always to be safer and give the best instruction we can do.

This is my sincerely opinion.

Blue Shark
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Originally posted by Blue Shark
I want to at to my recently e-mail:

Sure, is the instructor not the agency, but if you dont have a solid basement imagine the top!!! Sooner or later the building colapse.

Surely you are right! A solid base is definetly necessary for building a house that willl last.

However, the strength of the base is - in this case - defined by more than just the instructor:

First of all, you need proper teaching materials. In my opinion PADI's course materials are very good, so no problem here.

Secondly, you need good instructors. To ensure this, you will need an efficient system for quality management. PADI actually has such a system...

So why can we still encounter lousy PADI instructors?

From my experience one of the biggest problems is that nobody bothers to report the instructors (repeatedly or not) violating the standards. From my point of view we are all responsible for keeping instructional standards at top level. This is not just PADI's problem.

My conclusion: If you are not happy with the services of any PADI facility - report them to PADI wheter you will be diving with them again or not. In this way you may be able to make diving just a little bit better and maybe even to prevent future accidents.


Diving in cold waters is also diving...
Sorry Eva,

But some of us have reported PADI instructors and nothing happened. It's really rather a joke.

NAUI also has excellent support materials to back-up their programs. I much perfer their power point slides to the PADI ones because they are more detailed and you can change out the photos in them, yourself, to reflect the local diving conditions that you teach in.

The YMCA used to have a strong program, and some older friends of mine used to teach for them, but they have become almost non-existant in the US compared to all of the other training agencies who are out there these days.

Last edited:
Ummm... but you can change anything with the PADI slides too? It's all in powerpoint as well these days... you must be talking about the old MLGs. You can now add your own movies, extra slides, text, pictures etc etc etc, and even add your own company logo to each slide...
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Originally posted by Jon
Sorry Eva,

But some of us have reported PADI instructors and nothing happened. It's really rather a joke.

Even so, instructors actually do get suspended and sometimes even expelled from PADI. (I have reported a couple of instructors myself. One of them is no longer a PADI member.)

I am sure that the instructors reported more often than not only get suspended for a period of time, but my point was really that if nobody reports these clowns for sure nothing will happen...

I must admit that I have met PADI instructors whom I would not even trust to be my dive buddies. However, instructors like these also exist with other agencies.

I am sorry to say that I am rather unfamiliar with NAUI, since the only angecies "visible" in my area are PADI, CMAS and NASE. From what I have read on their website I think the cencept sounds quite strong, but I am in no position to compare it with other agencies.

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Funny that you mention NASE, since one of their founders was a PADI instructor trainer of mine, they didn't have course directors in those days, who was so fed up with PADI that he helped start a new orginization.

Friends of mine, who are also PADI instructors, and I have written up a few people over the years: for taking students to 150' during their deep dive in the AOW course, not having proper gear, like octo's, not using padi manuals to teach padi courses, being totally out of line when it comes to instructor/student ratios, ect. I have seen lots of bad instrcutors from other agencies, as well as good ones from all, but writing up a standards violation did nothing in our collective experience.

I still think instructor recertification every 3-5 years would help to cure a lot of the problems- just to get rid of the instructors who are now so fat they can no longer pass the basic swimming test!

Latest NAUI slides I saw were still way more detailed than the padi ones. I am not a naui instructor, yet, but some very good freinds of mine just crossed over and from what I have seen I am thinking along the same lines.

One interesting thing with the NAUI crossover was that they didn't even recognize some of the training agencies out there, like TDI, when it came to doing cross-overs.

Just so it doesn't sound like I'm gushing over NAUI, they instructor trainer whose students that I have had to rescue in the past, becasue he was on shore yelling for them to do a mask clears through his meg-o-phone, was from NAUI.

i recently had a discussion about instructor training with a fellow instructor.

we both agreed that the PADI instructor training course lacks in a lot of areas. the main points were:

- how can someone with just 100 dives, already become an instructor?

- the course material is just great, lots of info, pictures and training tools. but during the IDC they cover how to teach just ONE speciality (in my case it was Fish ID>?? -wow ). Surely they should teach an instructor how to conduct all the courses? It cannot be just a matter of - review the outline in the manual, talk to other instructors and see how they do it.. talk yourself through it in your bedroom the night before - THEN GO TEACH IT!

- how can an instructor with just 100 dives go and then train somebody at 30metres, do skills and chance that there will be no repercussions? Surely the instructor training should be more in depth? why don't they cover all the aspects of dive training, during the course? An IDC should be at least 3 months, to cover every single area that you will be required to teach and instructor candidates should be tested physically on each of those.
(oh sorry, people don't have holidays that long... :)

- how can somebody become an instructor, responsible for somebody's life underwater, in just 14 days training?

Personally i think that it is far too easy to become an instructor through PADI and that there are far too many instructors with little or cheap diving experiences that are working and taking out large groups of people. Risky business.

The hyperbaric doctor in Grand Cayman told me that there was an instructor in the chamber every week, from a certain dive operation. all between the ages of 20 and 25. (Maturity level?)

..and... the causes of bends wasn't entirely from training CESAs.. it was from diving deep on off-days... in between hangovers... and going too deep and doing decompression dives without the correct physical preparation and equipment. (responsibility?)

Becoming an instructor is possibly not stringent enough. I will go along with Eva. There are MANY instructors that i know that i wouldn't buddy up with. I feel safer alone.

my 2 cents worth.
I noticed that GUE isn't on the list. Although they don't offer basic open water training (YET, I've heard it's in the works) I think most people who've been through the DIR-F course would agree it's far and away the most thorough training they've ever had. The standrads are very high and absolutely adhered to by the instructors, who must annually complete certain requirements (such as diving at a certain level and teaching or assisting so many classes) in order to keep their certification. In addidition, despite the high cost of the courses, no one is guaranteed a pass and in fact many (most) students do NOT pass the DIR-F course the first time they take it. However even the ones who do not pass admit the training itself is top-notch. Plus, just to take the training there are physical requirements such as being a non-smoker and not being overweight, and the student can lose his or her certification in future years if it is discovered that he or she has dived in a way that violates GUE's standards or safety requirements. (such as attempting a dive that the diver is not qualified for)
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