The most important considerations when choosing Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) courses are personal or professional goals. Different PADI courses will teach a beginner how to dive, help an intermediate diver gain advanced skills, or teach an advanced diver how to teach others to dive. Some courses are geared toward exploration, while others are for beginners who already know they want a certification. The next consideration is available time. Some PADI courses are available online or in abbreviated courses that offer limited skills. After basic certification courses are complete, there are a variety of interest-based courses that offer skills and experience in a particular specialization.
For beginners, PADI offers a Discover Scuba Diving course that is designed to give inexperienced divers a taste of how breathing underwater feels. While the Discover course is not necessary, it can be used toward credit in the most basic PADI certification courses, like PADI Scuba Diver or PADI Open Water Certification courses. Confident beginners can jump right in to the Open Water Certification course, which enables learners to become certified divers. This PADI course includes at least five pool dives and four dives at dive sites. The PADI Scuba Diver course is a short version of the Open Water Certification course and offers a limited certification that allows students to make dives under qualified supervision.
The PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course requires completion of the PADI Open Water course and builds on current skills while developing new skills and increasing student confidence in the water. Students can also earn this certification through completion of another PADI course, the Adventure Diver course. These PADI courses vary in subject matter, focusing on different specialties according to the student’s interest. Completion of this PADI course plus five adventure dives that meet certain qualifications will qualify the student for the PADI Advanced Open Water certification.
At the third level of PADI certification training is the PADI Rescue Diver course, which teaches students how to avoid diving problems and, if they do occur, how to handle them. This PADI course forms one of the prerequisites for the PADI Master Scuba Diver rating, which is the highest non-professional level available. In addition to these certification PADI courses, there are a variety of interest-related courses available for students who want to expand knowledge in certain types of diving, like wreck diving, photography, or videography.
Finally, there are PADI courses that prepare divers to instruct others how to dive. A PADI Divemaster course is the gateway into professional-level diving. Next are the Assistant Instructor and PADI Instructor level courses. Beyond this level, there are a variety of PADI Instructor specialty courses to hone teaching skills in various areas.