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Training Agencies in Review

     This page is designed for divers-to-be or certified divers who wish to carry on their education. Here you can find more information about the different diver certification agencies available worldwide.
     The modern world of abundance gives many opportunities to the shopper on and off line. Scuba diving is no exception and a lot of divers are wondering about the differences between agencies and how to choose the right one for them. We hope this review to be of some help to you in your dive training quest of excellence.
     The list below will present briefly the major international diver training and certifying agencies. This list is not exhaustive and we would be glad to add any other agencies not listed here. We present the agencies with a brief history, country of origin, training philosophy, and synopsis of basic courses.
     Please feel free to follow the hyperlinks to get directly to each association's official website.

What matters most is who teaches you, not the card!

NAUI: The National Association of Underwater Instructors. Founded in 1960 in the United States, NAUI organized the first ever non-military instructor course on American soil.
     This association is a non-profit association and provides a high standard of leadership training, academic freedom for its instructors to teach in and a Board of 9 Directors elected by its membership democratically, as well as high quality books and educational materials. The headquarters are in Tampa, Florida, but NAUI divers and members can interact with the association through their regional representatives and service centers. NAUI training features more dives and more rescue training than any other association for all levels of certification. The association is best summarized by its long recognized mottos: "Dive Safety Through Education" and "the Quality Difference".
NAUI is NASA's choice for training the astronauts in their EVAs simulation in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, Texas.
ACUC: Formed in 1969 but in the early 1960's various other training agencies standards were in use throughout Canada. Sense many of these standards had been developed in warm, good visibility waters it was not long before pressure was exerted on A.C.U.C. to develop a scuba training program suitable for diving in lower temperature, limited visibility waters where tides, and sometimes altitudes, were taken into account. With the advent of the first Canadian designed Scuba Certification Program in 1969, A.C.U.C. emerged as Canada's indigenous scuba certification body, thereby providing a high quality Canadian alternative to the warm water certification training that had spread into Canada.
The American Canadian Underwater Certifications, Inc., now popularly known as ACUC International, has grown to become an international leader in high quality sport diver training. The Head Office is located in Ontario, Canada, which is responsible for the overall running of the Company as well as their North American operations. ACUC - Europe, located in Madrid, Spain, is responsible for our operations in Europe, Asia, Africa, Central & South America, and Australia. Besides Canada and Spain, up to now, we also celebrate the opening of delegation offices in Argentina, Austria, Benelux (Holland, Belgium & Luxembourg), Cuba, Ecuador, Germany, Israel, Italy, Mexico and Venezuela.
They teach all levels of recreational scuba diving, from basic Scuba Diver to Instructor Trainer. We also, through an agreement with LifeGuard Systems, offer training in the Public Safety sector. ACUC certified Divers, Divemasters and Instructors are known world wide for their excellent knowledge and diving skills....and that makes them very proud!
ACUC is a founding member of the Canadian and European RSTC and therefore we recognize and are recognized by, all WRSTC council member's agencies. ACUC also holds mutual recognition agreements with CMAS for our diver levels.
CMAS: Confederation Mondiale des Activites Subaquatiques or the World Underwater Federation was created in the mid-50's by well known Jacques Cousteau and early diving enthusiasts in Europe. Originally hosted in France, its headquarters are today in Italy.
     This association represents affiliated underwater activities federations of any of its country members. Scuba diving is one among other activities such as free diving, u/w photography, fin swimming, u/w hunting, and u/w navigation, which are organized yearly into regional and world championships by local federations. To respond to more international demand and in the wake of unifying the standards of practice of the scuba diving federations, the association created its own courses curriculum with international recognition.
SSI: Scuba Schools International was created in the States in the late sixties and has gained international audience through the years. This association has been since incorporated and is centered around affiliated diving centers. All members interact with the dive center being the supplier.
     The association developed a complete diver's curriculum from beginner to leadership, which is supported by excellent training and educational materials.
PADI: The Professional Association of Diving Instructors was created in Chicago in 1966, and has moved since to California. PADI has become with the years the leader in volume of certified divers. The association has also developed a complete curriculum to train divers from beginner levels to professional, supported by a huge variety of educational materials. The association emphasizes the self study of divers and their instructors are taught to interact minimally with their students on knowledge development. The association is well represented worldwide by its Local Area Offices and regional managers.
YMCA: Young Men Christian Association Scuba Program, created in 1960 and based today in Georgia, USA. Earlier an American CMAS affiliated diving association, it has developed a diver training curriculum from beginner to instructor level. Known for its rigorous and tough training, it has remained until today a non-profit scuba association. YMCA instructors can be found worldwide.
PDIC: Professional Diving Instructors Corporation, founded in the late 60's in the States, its headquarters are in Pennsylvania. PDIC has developed very attractive diver training programs with corresponding educational materials. Their instructors can also be found worldwide, but PDIC members are more commonly encountered in Northern America and the Caribbean.
NASDS: National Association of Scuba Diving Schools. Founded in the late 60's too with headquarters in the United States, this association's focus is on the diving school to which instructors must belong in order to certify students. Therefore, independent NASDS instructors can't be found. Certification has international recognition, but schools of this association are more commonly found within the United States and Canada.
BSAC: The British Sub-Aqua Club was founded in the United Kingdom (England) in 1954 and was one of the very first diving associations to join the CMAS with the French diving federation (FFESSM) and the Italian federation (ANIS). The club's diver training is recognized worldwide as one of the best training recreational divers can get, although the training is harsh. Club members and instructors can be found now in over 50 countries around the world and BSAC has developed a complete network of affiliated clubs. Every course is supported with excellent training materials and the complete curriculum from "novice diver" up to "advanced diver" is one of the most complete the industry has to offer today.
IDEA: The International Diving Educators Association was founded in Florida, USA in 1979. It has become with the years a solid name in diver education worldwide and the association has developed a fine network of professional educators in Europe recently.
CEDIP: Comite Europeen Des Instructeurs de Plongee (European Committee of Diving Instructors), created in the 80's with the development of the European Union, the committee is based in Juan Les Pins, France. It represents some major diver training agencies from different European countries such as France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Holland. CEDIP members are worldwide and it is a growing association better known to European divers. Course curricula follow standards of the country's association affiliated agency and a double faced certification card is issued to the student.
HSA: Handicapped Scuba Association. Founded in the States, California in 1981 and based in San Clemente, it is the most recognized international diver agency for disabled people. It is a non-profit association which has designed a complete curriculum for disabled persons to be able to enjoy safe diving practices. All skills are adapted to the handicap of the person and allow very safe participation in recreational scuba diving activities. The diving community will never appreciate enough what this association is doing to bring scuba diving to our disabled peers. The programs designed (in cooperation with NAUI and PADI) have reached well deserved international audience.
Non diver certification agency: DAN: Divers Alert Network. Based in Duke University, it is the worldwide diving safety and data collector on diving accidents. DAN's work has a tremendous impact on how agencies are evolving their training. They developed a comprehensive network of members worldwide and help in making scuba diving even safer than it is. Divers and professionals can become members of the Network, and their insurance policy programs is one of the best recognized worldwide. DAN offers 24 hours calling service with assistance in all the major recompression chambers in the world.

If you are interested in Technical Diving certification agencies, please click here