SSI vs PADI

SSI (Scuba Schools International) is the world’s largest store based training agency. SSI Instructors and Dive Masters, must be affiliated with a physical store.

PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is the world’s largest scuba training agency. PADI Instructors can teach independent of a dive store.

Why choose SSI:

  • Internationally recognised certification (you can dive at any store (SSI, PAID, or any other agency), anywhere in the world
  • SSI focuses on small class numbers, high quality service and personal time with each student. (Scuba World has a 1 to 5 ratio – whereas the International standard is 8 to 1)
  • Skills are taught through repetition. You complete a skill over and over in the pool, so you never forget.
  • Instructors teach through a dive store. It is natural to believe that the owners and management of the store want their students to be 100% safe and comfortable when diving.
  • Every course is monitored by the store owner. (A feedback form is provided to every student on completion)
  • SSI Instructors train using the 80/20 rule. 80% of the course structure is set by SSI, and 20% can be flexible and based on local dive conditions, students ability, and students learning methods etc.
  • If you want to become a diver for life (take up a new hobby)
  • Most SSI stores issue a Nationally Recognised training certificate (SISOSCB301A) – this is the highest level of training you can receive in Australia.
  • There are segments built into the SSI program that entice divers to go on diving holidays, complete advanced training, purchase equipment, join a dive club and attend social events.

Why choose PADI:

  • Internationally recognised certification
  • Most PADI stores focus on large numbers (great if you want to have a lot of fun and meet lots of people)
  • Less time is spent on each scuba skill

A lot of experienced divers in the industry will tell you that it does not really matter whether you choose SSI or PADI. At the end of the day you get a scuba certification card and you can dive anywhere in the world.

There are also a lot of experienced divers in the industry that will tell you it all comes down to your instructor. There are great SSI instructors and there are great PADI instructors.

So how do you know if your instructor will teach you everything you need to know to stay safe and comfortable in the water? Do your research. Don’t simply choose a diving course because it is the cheapest or the quickest. Arrange an orientation with your local dive store, and ask them to explain what the course includes.

Ask questions like:

  • How many days is the program? If it is less than four, alarm bells should start to ring – does this dive shop want the best for me.
  • Who will be my instructor? How many courses have they taught?
  • Where are the dives completed? Diving off a boat is a lot more challenging than diving off a beach. Diving off a boat will teach you valuable skills needed in your diving career.
  • What is the schedule (theory, pool, ocean)? The pool is the most important component of your training. A minimum of 10 hours in the pool (generally spread over 2 days) is required for most people to become safe and confident
  • What are the ocean conditions like? If you learn to dive in ‘calm’ conditions you may find it difficult to dive in challenging conditions. Dive shops will be able to explain about their local conditions
  • Does the dive shop recommend you purchase your personal snorkeling equipment (mask, snorkel, fins) before the course? You will enjoy the course much more if you buy as opposed to hire.

Ian McKinnon (5000+ dives)

SSI Instructor Certifier since 1988 (1000+ SSI certifications)

ex-PADI Course Director since 1985 (800+ PADI certifications)

Diving since 1974