PADI, the main SCUBA organization, offers certifications for those who wish to pursue diving as a recreational hobby and those who want to become professional divers. This guide should help you decide which certification will best fit your diving goals.
If you aren’t pursuing SCUBA as a serious hobby, Open Water Certification is perfect. It allows you to dive with a dive buddy above a depth of 60 feet. If you’re only looking for something to make vacations more interesting, I would go ahead and stop with your open water certification.
Advanced Open Water
The next step for a diver is to get an Advanced Open Water Certification. This is mainly for divers who want to feel more comfortable in the water and go diving more than just on vacation. This certification will help you dive streamlined and allow you to make the most out of your dives as well as give you the ability to dive as deep as 130 feet.
For divers who want to become specialized in certain areas, PADI offers specialty courses in areas such as wreck diving, deep diving, enriched air diving, night diving, underwater photography and more. If you’re looking to dive in different places with different things to see, getting a specialty in something you are interested in will help you feel safe and effective in your dives.
If you want to feel completely at ease and comfortable with a dive if something were to go wrong, I recommend getting your Rescue Diver certification. This course will give you the ability to respond to emergency situations that may occur on a dive.
If you’re looking to pursue SCUBA diving as a career, the Divemaster course is the first step. It will allow you to work with instructors in a class, work on a boat as a dive guide and open an array of career opportunities with resorts and dive shops.
If you’re looking for the same prestige you will get from becoming a Divemaster without the responsibility of a professional certification, you may want to consider becoming a Master SCUBA Diver, the last step in recreational certification. PADI also offers more professional courses up to the level of course director.
You may decide to become a Divemaster or stop at your Open Water Certification. It all depends on what you want to get out of diving. As always, safety is first, so be sure to think about the physical conditions required for diving.