11 Different Types of Scuba Certifications

Diving certification is a very important document, as it validates that a person is adequately trained to practice diving safely under certain conditions.

Determining which is the best diving certification depends on two main factors: The focus of the organization and the interests of the diver.

For example, if you only want to enjoy recreational diving in your country during your vacation, possibly a basic certification will be enough. However, if you are a traveler and want to explore deepest places or ship wrecks, you may need a more advanced certification.

In this article we share with you what are the types of diving certifications, who issues them and what you can do with them. We will also give you some valuable tips so that you can choose the most suitable certification for you.

Scuba Diving Courses: The Diver Progression Explained

Why is scuba certification important?

Scuba diving is the act of using a breathing apparatus to stay underwater for long periods. Certification means you know how to use hand signals properly, read your pressure and depth gauge, how each piece of equipment works and what you need to do when confronted with a dangerous situation. Once youve achieved your basic scuba certification, you can build upon it by gaining experience or obtaining further certification for teaching people how to dive or work with tools underwater.

There are multiple organizations that offer scuba diving certifications, but the most well-known and recognized organization is the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. The other organizations—the World Confederation of Underwater Activities, Scuba Schools International, the Association of Diving Contractors International and the National Association of Underwater Instructors—all offer similar certifications to PADI. However, if theres a specialized type of diving you wish to learn and engage in, look into all organizations to determine if they have the certification youre seeking.

Types of scuba certifications

Scuba diving certification is divided into classroom and pool activities to train you and test your knowledge of the skills needed to dive. Most certifications require you to complete a certain number of training and classroom hours before taking a test. Here are the most common types of scuba certifications:

PADI Scuba Diver

This certificate allows you to dive to a depth of 40 feet or 12 meters as long as you are accompanied by a professional diver. No solo diving is allowed. This is a good entry-level certification for those who may be interested in pursuing a career in diving.

PADI Open Water Diver

The open water scuba diver certification, also sometimes called a “diving license” or “scuba certification,” is a credential that allows you to:

You can also take classes for underwater videography and photography when you have an open water certification.

PADI Advanced Open Water Diver

This certification course is open to applicants who have completed the PADI Open Water Diver certification. The purpose of the certification is to demonstrate that you have advanced your diving skills and are able to:

PADI Rescue Diver

The Rescue Diver certification helps you learn how to help others during a dive. You must have had CPR and first-aid training within the past 24 months prior to getting this certificate. Some of the topics and education covered under this certificate include:

PADI Master Scuba Diver

The Master Scuba Diver certification is one of PADIs most advanced scuba diving certifications. Divers can earn this certificate after they earn the Scuba Diver, Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver and Rescue Diver certifications. They also need to earn at least five PADI specialty certifications and have at least 50 logged dives.

PADI Wreck Diver

The Wreck Diver certificate allows a diver to explore and navigate around a wreck while respecting the vessel and its environs. It also teaches them how to survey and map a wreck for various purposes. Some of the education included in this certificate covers:

PADI Enriched Air Diver

Nitrox, also known as “nitrous oxide diving” or “enriched air diving,” is a popular certification for divers who want to stay down longer and avoid the effects of decompression after surfacing. The use of enriched air prevents decompression sickness—a condition known as “the bends”—and reduces the amount of downtime between dives.

A nitrox scuba tank is higher in oxygen and low in nitrogen, which requires closer monitoring than the traditional oxygen tank. Getting this certification means you are able to manage oxygen exposure, analyze the oxygen content in the scuba tank and properly set the dive computer for the air mixture in the tank.

ACDE Commercial Diver

This entry-level certification is issued by the Association of Commercial Diving Educators. It certifies that a student has completed training that follows the standards issued by the ANSI/ACDE for entry-level commercial divers.

Divers Academy International Certificate of Completion

Completion of the commercial dive training program earns the Divers Academy International Certificate of Completion. Holding this certificate means you have been taught in accordance with the U.S. Navy Commercial Dive Manual Revision 7, ACDE/ANSI 2015-01 Commercial Dive Training. This training includes underwater welding techniques that are taught to the AWS Underwater Welding Standards.

ADCI Commercial Diver

This certification shows that the diver is undergoing training to meet the ADCI Consensus Standard for Entry Level Air Tender/Diver. This certification is for commercial divers who are gaining work experience and seeking to obtain further credentials, such as a mixed-gas diver, air diver and more.

HAZWOPER/HAZMAT certification

While this is not strictly a scuba certification, it is required by law for those who work on commercial sites. The HAZWOPER/HAZMAT is a 40-hour course that teaches students how to handle hazardous material conditions underwater and on land. Both certificates can be obtained separately from one another, but its highly recommended to obtain both certificates to increase opportunities for employment. Someone with a HAZMAT certificate can only work on HAZMAT responses, but someone with both HAZMAT and HAZWOPER certificates can work on both types of emergency responses.


What type of scuba certification is best?

The 5 Best Scuba Diving Certification Programs of 2022
  • Best Overall: PADI. …
  • Runner-Up, Best Overall: SSI. …
  • Oldest Agency: NAUI. …
  • Best British Contingent: BSAC. …
  • Best for Future Tec Divers: SDI.

What are the different scuba certifications?

Types of scuba certifications
  • PADI Scuba Diver.
  • PADI Open Water Diver.
  • PADI Advanced Open Water Diver.
  • PADI Rescue Diver.
  • PADI Master Scuba Diver.
  • PADI Wreck Diver.
  • PADI Enriched Air Diver.
  • ACDE Commercial Diver.

How many different scuba certifications are there?

You already know the 12 PADI Scuba Diving Certification Levels.

Is PADI or SDI better?

If you’re looking to become professional as a scuba diving instructor you may want to opt for PADI since it is the more well-known of the two. If you want to pursue diving as a career (and not be a dive instructor) then SDI may work better for you, given their connection to TDI.

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