Scuba diving PADI vs SSI vs NAUI vs BSAC
It’s only right that you should want to compare scuba diving certifications. If you are looking at PADI vs SSI vs NAUI vs BSAC, but don’t know which is better or what the differences are, below is a table of differences between each certification.
The difference between PADI vs SSI vs NAUI vs BSAC include that PADI is a ‘training agency’ that trades for profit. BSAC is a ‘scuba club’ and a non-profit organisation. SSI is similar to PADI also a profit making dive organisation. But NAUI is similar to BSAC, as it is also a not for profit scuba diving organisation.
Before I explain the differences between PADI, SSI, NAUI and BSAC, let’s take a look at what each one stands for, starting with PADI.
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What does PADI stand for?
PADI stands for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, where their motto is “Under every rock, around every reef, a new discovery awaits“.
PADI’s claim is there are 27 million divers that started with them. The PADI diving agency has been around since 1966.
The organisation is a recreational diving membership and diver training organisation. It was founded by John Cronin and Ralph Erickson.
The two founders were both scuba instructors and divers who were friends in the state of Illinois, U.S.A. Their goal was to give more people a chance to enjoy the underwater world. They wanted to offer relevant, instructionally valid scuba diving training to create confident scuba divers who dive regularly.
PADI is a business for profit organisation and their corporate headquarters located in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, USA.
What does SSI stand for?
SSI stands for the Scuba Schools International. SSI started in 1970 and has more than 30 Service Centers. The organisation is represented in more than 110 countries world-wide with over 2,800 International locations.
“SCUBA SCHOOLS INTERNATIONAL GREW OUT OF THE PASSION OF A FEW AVID DIVERS WHO WERE INTENT ON MAKING IT POSSIBLE FOR ANYONE TO LEARN HOW TO SCUBA DIVE“Scuba Schools International – About
SSI’s motto is “Focused on quality, and not quantity“.
Scuba Schools International is owned by scuba diving equipment company Mares Mares is owned by Head BV, which is a European sports equipment manufacturer.
More Reading: PADI vs BSAC
What does NAUI stand for?
NAUI stands for the National Association of Underwater Instructors. NAUI was set up by Albert Tillman and Neal Hess in 1959. Their headquarters are in Florida in the US.
NAUI’s motto is “The Definition of Diving“, but also they promote “Dive Safety Through Education“.
What does BSAC stand for?
BSAC stands for the British Sub Aqua Club. BSAC started in 1954, so has been around for much longer than most diving organisations, SSI included (and PADI for that matter).
The British Sub Aqua Club has around 1,100 independent dive clubs and 400 diving schools worldwide that teach scuba diving.
BSAC has taught the best which includes the likes of Princes and one of my favourite people in the world, Sir David Attenborough. In fact when I interviewed Richard Bull Rock-band star and professional scuba diver, he told me how he’d certified Sir David.
BSAC’s motto is quite simple and is “Dive with us“.
More Reading: What are the different types of scuba diving?
Is NAUI better than PADI? or is SSI better than PADI or is BSAC better than PADI, NAUI or SSI?
The best advice to take when choosing your scuba diver certification is to choose the trainer first over the diving organisation. Whichever scuba diver training you take, be it PADI, SSI, NAUI or BSAC, you’ll enjoy it and will be safe.
So whether you choose PADI vs SSI vs NAUI vs BSAC really doesn’t matter. It really only boils down to whether there’s a PADI centre, an SSI centre, a NAUI or a BSAC centre near you.
Or which diving agency training centre is where you happen to be on holiday at the time you’re looking to get certified as a scuba diver.
Scuba diving PADI vs SSI vs NAUI vs BSAC table of differences
|Comparison #1||First scuba certification level & max depth|
|PADI||Open Water Diver - 18 metres (60 feet)|
|SSI||Open Water Diver - 18 metres (60 feet)|
|NAUI||Scuba Diver - 18 metres (60 feet)|
|BSAC||Ocean Diver - 20 metres (67 feet)|
|Comparison #2||Second scuba certification level & max depth|
|PADI||Advanced Open Water Diver - 30 metres (100 feet)|
|SSI||Advanced Adventurer - 30 metres (100 feet)|
|NAUI||Advanced Scuba Diver - 40 metres (130 feet)|
|BSAC||Sports Diver - 35 metres (115 feet)|
|Comparison #3||Minimum Aged|
|PADI||10+ (max depth until age 15 12 metres (40 feet) - the Junior Open Water Diver certification|
|SSI||8+ (max depth to age 15 12m (40f); 8 max depth 5m (16f) - Scuba Rangers)|
|NAUI||10+ (max depth until age 15 12 metres (40 feet) - the Junior Scuba Diver|
|Comparison #4||Maximum recreational dive depth|
|PADI||40 metres (130 feet) with Deep Diver specialty course|
|SSI||100 metres (330 feet) as a SSI Hypoxic Trimix Instructor|
|NAUI||40 metres (130 feet)|
|BSAC||100 metres (328 feet) (Using helium-based mixed gases by suitably trained and qualified divers).|
|Comparison #5||Other diver qualifications|
|PADI||Rescue Diver; Master Diver; Divemaster|
|SSI||Advanced Adventurer, Boat Diving, Search & Recovery, Enriched Air Nitrox|
|NAUI||Scuba Rescue Diver; Master Scuba Diver; Divemaster|
|BSAC||Dive Leader, Advanced Diver|
|Comparison #6||Dive centres and resorts|
|BSAC||1,100 local independent dive clubs + 400 diving schools World-wide|
|Comparison #7||How long is a the certification good for?|
|PADI||Lifetime - but you may need a refresher course if you've not dived in a while|
|SSI||Lifetime - but you may need a refresher course if you've not dived in a while|
|NAUI||Lifetime - but you may need a refresher course if you've not dived in a while|
|BSAC||Lifetime - but you may need a refresher course if you've not dived in a while|
|Comparison #8||Famous divers|
|PADI||Sandra Bullock, Tom Cruise, James Cameron, Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson are all famous PADI divers|
|SSI||None on record|
|NAUI||Kevin Costner, Lou Gossett Jr., Cameron Diaz; & Tiger Woods are all famous NAUI divers + Jacques Cousteau was on the Board of Advisers|
|BSAC||Arthur C. Clarke, Prince William (Duke of Cambridge), Price Charles (+ his father Phillip), Prince Harry, Sir David Attenborough|
|Comparison #9||Max age limit|
|PADI||No - but is down to individual health|
|SSI||No - but is down to individual health|
|NAUI||No - but is down to individual health|
|BSAC||No - but is down to individual health|
|Comparison #10||Size and nature of diving organisation|
|PADI||Largest in the world and is a 'For Profit' organisation|
|SSI||The world’s largest store based training agency|
|NAUI||Second largest in the world and is a 'Not for Profit' organisation|
|BSAC||A not for profit diving organisation and recognised world-wide.|
Can you switch between PADI vs SSI vs NAUI vs BSAC and is each certification recognised by the others?
The question about whether SSI is recognised by PADI or visa versa and PADI recognised by NAUI or if BSAC is recognised by PADI or SSI, or whatever combination you choose, the answer is yes, all these diving agencies recognise each other.
But whilst they recognise each other’s certifications, they are different. This means you can’t switch agency whilst you’re in the middle of your training or initial certification.
The important thing to understand is that when you’re ready to move to the next certification level, PADI, SSI, NAUI and BSAC all recognise each other’s certifications as “equivalent” or “similar” training.
I hope you enjoyed this article about scuba diving PADI vs SSI vs NAUI vs BSAC
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2 thoughts on “PADI vs SSI vs NAUI vs BSAC (Differences & is one certification better?)”
Heard that PADI stands for ‘put another dollar in’ lol’, but then I am BSAC AD biased
Hi David, yes that is PADI’s nickname and like you I am also a BSAC diver too – happy scuba diving and thank you for your comment