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PADI VS SSI. Which one I should choose for my training?

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

PADI and SSI Logos.

  • Do you want to get your first diver certification?

  • Already have a certification and want to go for the next one with the other organization?

  • Are you thinking of becoming a professional, and you don't know if you should do it with PADI or SSI?

In this post, I am going to tell you, in detail and objectively, the differences between both organizations. So you can make the best decision.


I'm going to talk about:


PADI and SSI - what are they?

In my life as a dive professional, I have heard many times customers came into the dive center to tell me that they wanted the PADI course.

I immediately knew they were referring to the Open Water beginner course.

But... did they really know what it was or why they wanted to do the PADI course?

I'm sure they didn't.

They were just basing it on the fact that PADI is the best-known agency (or was until a few years ago), and because they were seeing the logo everywhere.

So here I tell you what they are. This way when you go to the dive center you know exactly what you want.

What is PADI?

PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors)

PADI is an international organization for the training of diving instructors.

Founded in 1966 by John Cronin and Ralph Erickson, it is today one of the largest diving organizations in the world.

It offers diver training programs from beginner level to complete a career as recreational diving professional with its pro courses.

It also offers technical level courses from beginner to professional level.

What is SSI?

SSI (Scuba Schools International)

Also, an international organization offering recreational scuba diving courses from beginner to professional levels and including technical diving levels.

It was founded by Robert Clark, one of the pioneers of scuba training, in 1970 in the USA.

SSI was the first organization to offer a complete training curriculum including the first video training.

Both organizations have support programs for instructors, dive centers, and dive businesses.

Do different agencies mean different certifications?

Being certified by SSI or PADI is the same in terms of recognition.

Both organizations are regulated and controlled by WRSTC (World Recreational Scuba Training Council).

This means that your certification, PADI or SSI, will be recognized worldwide in any dive center, school, or dive boat in the world, whichever organization it works with.

But in terms of training, methodology, materials, and processing, there are differences.

Differences that I will try to explain in a simple way so that everything is clear to you.

PADI and SSI certification equivalents

In this table, you have the equivalences between the main PADI and SSI diving courses.



Skin Diver

Snorkel Diver

Discover Scuba Diver


Bubble Maker

Scuba Rangers

​ReActivate™ – Scuba Refresher

Scuba Skills Update

Scuba Diver

Scuba Diver

Open Water Diver

Open Water Diver

Advanced Open Water Diver

Advanced Adventurer

Rescue Diver

Diver Stress & Rescue

Master Scuba Diver

Advanced Diver

The differences between PADI and SSI courses.


They are BASICALLY the same.

With both organizations, you learn the same theory and almost the same skills in the water.

The main difference is in the training approach.

PADI has quite strict standards and demands a fixed sequence in teaching...

This means that they tell you in which confined water session or open water dive the student must learn, practice, and master a certain exercise.

SSI is far more flexible.

It leaves the sequence of exercises to the discretion of the instructor and the confidence of the student. This way, the student learns at his or her own rhythm.

And I assure you, in diving training, this is very, very important.

Here's an example:

With PADI, the mask removal exercise is done in the confined water session 4 and practiced on the open water dive 3.

With SSI, the instructor is allowed to teach the same exercise in any dive he/she considers appropriate and better for the student.

Training Materials: Padi App and Dive SSI App

One thing that Padi and SSI have in common is that nowadays, learning the theory can be done through their app.

Both the PADI App and Dive SSI App give you access to the learning material, which consists of the electronic manual and videos.

You can study online or download them to your mobile device.

In both apps, you also have access to other features such as a dive logbook, electronic certification, information about dive sites, etc...

But in my opinion, the Dive SSI App is more complete, intuitive, and easy to use.

On the other side, with SSI, access to the study material is always through the APP.

But PADI also has access to the E-learning program through the computer.

When you buy the software, it gives you access with a username and password, and you can log in on any device.

Here you can find more info about both of them:

Padi APP:


Scuba diving certification.

As I have already said, both organizations are recognized and spread all over the world.

This means you will find PADI and SSI dive centers everywhere you go.

Both organizations also have a database of all the certifications they have issued.

The dive centers affiliated with each organization have access to this database and with just the name and date of birth of the diver, they can log in and check that they are certified.

However, it is very possible to forget the certification, but rarely we do not have access to our mobile phones.

In the APP of both organizations, you can have your digital certification, so you have it with you at all times.

Things to keep in mind:

PADI and SSI no longer issue physical certification cards.

If you want to have one, you must buy it directly from the head office or through your dive center.

For your information, the SSI Card is much cheaper than the one from PADI.

PADI or SSI then? 🤔

As mentioned above, both organizations have high standards of quality in terms of diving education.

Both are equally recognized around the world.

So your choice will depend a lot on two factors:

  • On you, your possibilities, and circumstances.

  • On the professionals with whom you are going to do your course.

After working for many years in the diving industry, I can tell you that the human factor in teaching courses is almost everything.

It can be the difference between getting hooked and even making a living out of it or just trying it and never wanting to go back in the water for the rest of your life.

And here, finding a PADI Instructor or an SSI Instructor has nothing to do with it.

It depends a lot on the professionalism and quality of the instructor and the dive center.

But be careful.

When we talk about becoming professional it is another subject.

If you want to become a dive instructor it is very important that you know how to choose the organization you want to train and certify with.

Your career in recreational diving: With PADI or with SSI?

Dive Master 🐟

The first step in your professional diving life starts with the Dive Master certification whether it is SSI or PADI.

With PADI you need to be a PADI Rescue Diver and have at least 40 dives at the start of the course to finish with a minimum of 60 dives.

You must be 18 years old to be able to work.

An intermediate certification is available with SSI: The SSI Dive Guide.

This certification can be obtained after the SSI STRESS and Rescue program with an age requirement of 15 years old.

Why is this? Because it is not a certification that allows you to work.

In order to become an SSI Divemaster, if you have the SSI Dive Guide certification you must complete another course: The Science of Diving. This is basically the theory of diving.

When you have both certifications and you are 18 years old you get the SSI Divemaster certification and you are allowed to work in a dive center.

If you have all the age and certification requirements you can do both courses together and get the Dive Master certification.

Do you want to be an instructor? 🦈

Here are several reasons to consider to become an instructor.

Whichever organization you choose, I do recommend that you do it with one of the both.

You will have a better chance of working for a dive center and anywhere in the world if you are a PADI or SSI Instructor.

But let's get to the actual differences:

First of all...

PADI professionals, once certified, can teach independently while SSI professionals must always be affiliated with a dive center.

A priori it may seem to you that this is a disadvantage but if we think about it and we go a little further, SSI avoids intrusiveness.

Professionals teaching without the support of a dive center.

Plus the consequences for the dive business and the instructors' working conditions...but that's material for another post.

Talking about whether a PADI instructor has a better chance to work than an SSI instructor or vice versa.

No way... Both certifications give you the same options and opportunities because both organizations are spread all over the world.

But... What happens when it comes to becoming an instructor for both organizations?

Well, in this case, it is easier to make the transition from PADI to SSI than the other way around.

To go from PADI to SSI you just have to do a Crossover course and you get the SSI Instructor certification in a few days.

To go from SSI to PADI is more complicated and...more expensive.

Because there is no crossover course in PADI.

If you are an SSI Instructor and want to become a PADI Instructor you must complete the IDC Course and the IE exam with a PADI Course Director.

So if you want to be an instructor for both certifications, I would start by doing the PADI IDC and then I would do the crossover to SSI.

If you only want one then it's up to you to choose which one suits you best.

Look for information about dive centers that offer the courses, about the PADI Course Director or the SSI Instructor Trainer that teaches them, about prices, etc...

You have to look for what suits you best.

But remember... the human factor in diving is fundamental and I would start from there.


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