PADI is the world’s number 1 recreational scuba diving training organisation with the largest professional membership of all the scuba diving organisations.
PADI has dive resorts all around the world with over 6200 dive resorts conducting PADI scuba diving programs. It has issued more than 25 million scuba diving certifications internationally meaning it is the world’s leading training agency.
The History of PADI
PADI was originally formed in the year 1966 by John Cronin and Ralph Ericksson both from the United States of America and (legend has it while they drank from a bottle of Johnnie Walker).
Both men had previous experience in the scuba diving industry and wanted to raise the standards of training and safety while making it more accessible to people. In its formative years the 2 men situated their “headquarters” out of John Cronin’s basement and would hold meetings from there.
Initially PADI grew slowly but introduced recreational diving’s first advanced and specialty diver programs aimed at improving training levels.
It took until the late 1970’s before PADI started to create its own student and instructor materials for courses and this coincided with a steep growth period for PADI.
By the 1990’s PADI had established itself as the world’s leading scuba diving training agency, this created a platform for a new initiative of taking responsibility for the underwater world.
Soon after this, PADI helped to form Project Aware, which helps to educate divers on their responsibility to protect the marine environment.
What does PADI Stand for?
PADI is an acronym for Professional Association of Diving Instructors. The name PADI has become synonymous with scuba diving with people using the word PADI instead of the actual PADI Open Water Course when asking for courses in dive shops.
Why Choose PADI?
PADI have put together a philosophy known as the 4E’s to ensure PADI dive centers and instructors provide the very best standards in customer service, diver training and diver safety.
Education: PADI has a wide range of courses to expand your scuba diving abilities and skills through continued education once you have become a PADI Open Water diver.
The range of courses will introduce you to new underwater activities such as wreck specialty and Diver propulsion vehicles. The programs are aimed at building on skills already mastered that can help you develop a career in the diving industry and move up the PADI ladder to become a PADI Professional Divemaster or Instructor.
Experience: PADI dive shops offer a variety of experiences from local dive tours to exotic dive travel. Diving is a social activity and, by affiliating with a PADI Dive Center or Resort, you can explore dive sites nearby or visit vacation destinations around the world with others who share your interests.
Equipment: You cannot go scuba diving without scuba diving equipment. PADI specialty courses will integrate the use of new gadgets and gear at certain times of your PADI training, with you learning how to use the standard equipment of BCD, Regulator, Mask, Snorkel and Fins.
As you progress through courses you will be taught new skills that require new or unfamiliar equipment such as a line and reel during a Wreck Specialty course
Environmental Conservation: Throughout PADI courses you will be taught the value of being an ECO diver and the benefits that it brings.
From the very start of either a Discover Scuba Dive or Open Water course you will be taught how to properly interact with the marine life so that you and others can enjoy and make the most of the dive and the marine environment in whole.
Scuba Diving Training with PADI
The PADI training system is all performance based so students can progress at their own pace as they take their Open Water course meeting the performance requirements as they go.
The PADI instructor for the course will outline a schedule at the beginning of the course and will guide students through so they complete the course in the agreed timeframe with a focus on becoming confident and comfortable with the exercises, but it is actually an open ended course.
Certification is gained when you demonstrate mastery of the skills that are included in the course, which means that you know what to do in a certain situation.
During the entry-level courses you will learn the basics of scuba diving physics, physiology, equipment and dive planning but you will not be expected to be an expert on these subjects.
As you progress up to becoming a PADI Professional Divemaster then you will expand your knowledge to a higher level. All the PADI scuba diving courses are constantly monitored and updated after receiving feedback from Professional PADI members, students and advice from outside agencies.
PADI Educational Materials
PADI have a full library of paper and online materials in a wide variety of languages to help make the academic side of your PADI course as smooth as possible. Most courses come in conjunction with short videos that also give a more visual side to learning the theory for your dives.
All manuals will include knowledge review for you to complete with which you will review with an instructor to ensure you understand the questions and how to answer them.
PADI is now looking to broaden its online and interactive products by bringing out new Elearning and Touch accounts so people can actually complete the theory at home before they head out to great scuba diving destinations such as Thailand. These accounts can be acquired via the PADI website or contacting a PADI dive school directly, this means when you arrive at your dive school you can get straight into the water.
Continuing Diver Education
After completing your PADI Open Water course and becoming a full certified scuba diver then you will have lots of options to continue your scuba diver education and learn new things.
Whether you are looking to improve your scuba diving skills or want a new adventure then the best place to start is to take your PADI Advanced Open Water certification. On this course you will take 5 different “adventure” dives that give you an insight to different types of scuba diving such as night diving and deep diving.
After taking your PADI Advanced course you have 2 main options either to specialise in a certain dive area or take the PADI Rescue diver course:
Specialty courses – You can become a PADI Specialty diver in over 20 different aspects of scuba diving and the variation is wide with courses to suit all different passions and aspects for divers.
The idea of these courses is that you will complete between 2 and 4 dives completing different tasks in this specific area to build skills and help to make you a specialist diver.
Besides the more famous specialty courses such as Deep, Wreck and Enriched Air Nitrox, you may take “distinctive” specialty courses. These are very niche courses that can only be taken in certain areas such as Golf Ball diver and Underwater Marriage diver that are more for fun.
PADI Rescue Diver – This course starts to change your focus when diving from just thinking about yourself and your buddy but to the whole dive group and more of your general environment.
You will train to give the skills to avoid, identify and solve any potential scuba diving accidents or emergencies. The course will provide many different scenarios for you to overcome before you gain certification as a PADI Rescue Diver. You will also need to have an up to date First Aid certificate
Becoming a PADI scuba diver professional
If you truly love scuba diving then you can become a scuba diving professional and a PADI member so you can start a career in the scuba diving industry. There are different courses and roles you can take in the profession:
PADI Divemaster – A PADI Divemaster is the first step on the scuba diving professional ladder and the course provides dive leadership skills and lets you assist in diver learning.
You will be able to conduct certain PADI programs such as PADI Reactivate or scuba reviews for scuba divers who have not dived in a while, these programs are essential to maintain diver safety and keep scuba skills up to date.
When completing the PADI Divemaster course it is usually best to take a Lifestyle internship package that runs somewhere between 4 – 6 weeks, this means that you will cover more than just the base PADI standards and it will provide you with more skills and confidence to be a full PADI Divemaster ready to work.
PADI Instructor – Becoming a full PADI Instructor will mean you can share your passion for scuba diving with new people and see fear turned into passion.
PADI Scuba Diving Instructors are the most sought after dive professionals in the world, with potential employment opportunities around the globe. You train to become a PADI Instructor through hard work and commitment during the Instructor development course (IDC) that usually runs over 2 weeks prior to your Instructor exams that take 2 days.
Once complete you are rewarded with a job that lets you share amazing underwater adventures with others while transforming their lives for the better and enhancing yours.
After graduating as a PADI Instructor you still have plenty of options for further training and ratings to help your personal development and give variety in the role. You can train to become a specialty instructor so you can start to teach students to become specialists in certain diving areas or become a PADI IDC Staff instructor to help teach IDC courses and guide people to become PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors.
Project aware – Helping make a difference
PADI has always demonstrated a strong commitment to environmental conservation throughout its history. This has been shaped by creation of courses that help raise awareness and aligning organisations, such as Project AWARE to help protect and preserve our marine environment.
PADI established Project AWARE in the late 1980’s and the organisation has grown since to help divers in over 180 countries. They have help raise awareness of declining coral reef health and have acted as a point for diver around the world that are collecting data.
They have also been global leaders in the fight against Marine debris and help to organize many beach and dive site clean ups.
PADI has a commitment to help the marine environment, keep coral reefs healthy and maintain the underwater eco-system so that future generations are able to experience the wonder of scuba diving. Over time this commitment has become an integral part of the PADI ethos and business plan as they seek to do as much as they can to make a difference.