Should you follow diving courses offered by SSI or PADI?
Oh, we know, it’s a doozy of a question!
If you are new to the diving world and overwhelmed by the different certification options, fear no more. Bubble Addict is here to help you unravel this mystery for you once and for all.
We will just go ahead and say this now, neither of the two is better or safer than the other. SSI and PADI both follow guidelines set forth by the WRSTC (or World Recreational Scuba Training Council), which means that both are equally capable of training and certifying new divers. As they both share the same scientific foundations, the quality offered by the two are basically the same. Having said this, there are small differences in the techniques both use to train new divers. Plus, if and when you do decide to become a professional diver, the choice does become a bit more complex. If you are a new in the diving world you will learn what the small differences are between SSI and PADI and if you want to take diving as your profession we will explain you when the difference between PADI and SSI will really make a difference for you. So, let’s say no more and dive right into the topic.
Name and Rights of the Diving Courses
First thing you should know is that SSI and PADI share a diving-level-structure. This means that someone interested in learning to dive will go through the same main diving levels (called courses) regardless if they choose for PADI or SSI. After finishing a diving course and receiving your certification you would gain the same diving limits and preparedness as the other. However, SSI and PADI name their courses differently from one another. In figure 1, you can find the most common courses offered by PADI and SSI and also learn how each equivalent course is named differently depending on the diving school. Here is the equivalence between SSI and PADI
￼Okay, now let’s assume that you are interested in recreational diving, rather than following the professional route. When it comes to recreational courses, such as your Open Water or Advanced Open Water, SSI has a reputation of being more flexible in its teaching techniques than PADI. Though you will learn the same skills, the approach to teaching differs slightly.
Need an example? Let’s say that you are enrolled in the open-water course, the first step in recreational diver training. No matter if you choose PADI or SSI, at the end of the course you will have all the tools you need to be a proficient diver to a maximum depth of 18 meters. SSI allows instructors greater flexibility in sequencing their training sessions depending on the student’s personal training needs. If you’re struggling to clear your mask on your first dive in the pool, no problem, do some other skills and try it again later when you have more confidence. PADI, on the other hand, is more prescriptive when it comes to sequencing and a PADI instructor will insist that you complete the first dive skills before being allowed to move onto dive two. This is an incremental learning approach that builds on what you have learned. There are valid arguments for and against both approaches.
Another example. Another slight difference in SSI is that every skill is required to work in real world situations and with all equipment configurations. In the unlikely event that a diver completely runs out-of-air on a dive, it is standard practice to breath from an alternate air source. If a diver runs out-of-air, depending on the situation, they could choose to ask their dive buddy for help. All divers have two breathable regulators, a primary and a secondary or ‘alternate’.
PADI will teach the ‘out-of-air diver’ to signal their buddy and reach for their alternate air source attached at their side, while SSI teaches to pass the primary regulator (yup, the one in your mouth!). PADI sets the responsibility on the diver who is out-of-air to help themselves, while SSI bases its approach on the notion that an out-of-air diver will instinctively reach for the next available air source (in his or her buddy’s mouth) and the buddy can assist them by donating theirs.
Also in some parts of the world, divers are using alternate regulators attached to their BC inflators and the technique taught by PADI would be ineffective, as your gear would not have a traditional alternate regulator to grab on a long hose. By teaching a universally accepted scenario, SSI’s method prepares the air ‘donor’ to cope with a stressful situation where their own air source is removed in an out-of-air emergency and they have to reach down and recover their alternate air source. The difference seems subtle, and is certainly not a deal breaker when it comes to choosing, but it could be argued that SSI is slightly more realistic when simulating the situation. When things get real
In contrast with the previously mentioned differences, from here on you will learn when you should really take a moment before deciding between SSI and PADI.
Depending on where you are, some island have agreement for the diving prices, but here in Pulau Weh, You will find SSI cheaper, why ? Because its cheaper for the dive center so it should be for you !
SSI are arguably keeping up with our technological age a little bit better than PADI and have made online materials much more accessible and FREE for their students rather than PADI (around 100 USD). Also, the actual certification card or diving card, is cheaper with SSI than with PADI (come on PADI, keep up!). The savings on training materials is very real and could be a deciding factor for those trying to watch the pennies or perhaps want to complete theory before they arrive at their dive shop.
So, in short, no, it doesn’t matter if you choose SSI or PADI if you are diving recreationally. However, you should take your time to understand the full differences between the two if you want to make diving your career. If you are to reach instructor level, choose based on the location where you want to work and if you are below instructor level just enjoy your time diving. The advice we give over and over again is the same, regardless if you go SSI or PADI, the feeling you get when you step in the dive center and meet, the team, the instructors is also really important.