PADI vs SSI (Which diving certification is better PADI or SSI?)

PADI vs SSI - Which diving organisation is better PADI or SSI

Padi vs SSI certification and which to choose

Many ask ‘which dive certification is the best‘, is it PADI or is it SSI and ‘what is the difference between PADI and SSI?’ In this article I compare PADI vs SSI and compare the differences vs the similarities of both these scuba diving certifications.

PADI vs SSI: The beginner scuba diving certification of PADI vs SSI is very similar. Both are accepted world-wide. Beginner certification is “Open Water Diver”, which certifies divers to 18 metres (60 feet). SSI offer a “Scuba Diver” level allowing newbies to dive under dive professional supervision to a max of 12 metres (40 feet).

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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.

More Reading: How deep can you dive with an Open Water Certification?

What does SSI stand for?

SSI stands for the Scuba Schools International. SSI started in 1970 and has more than 30 Service Centers. Scuba Schools International is represented in more than 110 countries world-wide with over 2,800 International locations.


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.

This means that like PADI, SSI is a commercial enterprise and is a profit making business. This isn’t a bad thing, but is does compare differently to NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) and BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club), which are both non-profit organisations.

More Reading: PADI vs NAUI search worldwide destinations

What is the difference between PADI and SSI?

PADI vs SSI table of differences and similarities

Now that I’ve explained what each organisation stands for. Plus where they are based, lets take a look at PADI vs SSI compared.

In this comparison table below, I’m only going to look at the positives in both organisations. I don’t see how it benefits anyone by slating any diving agency over the other.

More Reading: Scuba diver questions and answers

PADI vs SSI - Compared

A table of differences and similarities between PADI vs SSI
First scuba certification level & maximum depthOpen Water Diver - 18 metres (60 feet)Open Water Diver - 18 metres (60 feet)
Second scuba certification level & max depthAdvanced Open Water Diver - 30 metres (100 feet)Advanced Open Water Diver - Depth varies depending on age and number of dives
Minimum Aged10+ (max depth until age 15 12 metres (40 feet) - the Junior Open Water Diver certification8+ (max depth to age 15 12m (40f); 8 max depth 5m (16f) - Scuba Rangers)
Maximum recreational dive depth40 metres (130 feet) with Deep Diver specialty course100 metres (330 feet) as a SSI Hypoxic Trimix Instructor
Other diver qualificationsRescue Diver; Master Diver; DivemasterAdvanced Adventurer, Boat Diving, Search & Recovery, Enriched Air Nitrox
Dive centres and resorts6,500 world-wide2,800 world-wide
How long is a the certification good for?Lifetime - but you may need a refresher course if you've not dived in a whileLifetime - but you may need a refresher course if you've not dived in a while
Famous diversSandra Bullock, Tom Cruise, James Cameron, Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson are all famous PADI diversNone on record
Max age limitNo - but is down to individual healthNo - but is down to individual health
Size and nature of diving organisationLargest in the world and is a 'For Profit' organisationThe world’s largest store based training agency
MOTTO"Under every rock, around every reef, a new discovery awaits""Focused on quality, and not quantity"

If you have any other questions about either of these diving organisations, please post a comment below.

The best advice I can give you is to choose the trainer first over the diving organisation. Which ever scuba diver training you take, you’ll enjoy it and will be safe.

So whether you choose PADI vs SSI really doesn’t matter. It really only boils down to whether there’s a PADI centre or a SSI 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.

More Reading: How to scuba dive without certification

Is SSI recognised by PADI and is PADI recognised by SSI?

The question about whether SSI is recognised by PADI or visa versa and PADI recognised by SSI, the answer is yes, both these diving agencies recognise each other.

However, 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, both PADI and SSI will recognise each other’s certifications as “equivalent” training.

More Reading: What are the different types of scuba diving?

I hope you enjoyed this article about PADI vs SSI

I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!

If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or scuba diving (or specifically about PADI vs SSI), please comment below with your questions.

There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.

Have fun and be safe!

More Reading: What is it like scuba diving for the first time?

What are common depths for beginner scuba divers?

PADI vs SSI (Which diving certification is better PADI or SSI?)

Article written by Russell Bowyer who has been a scuba diver since diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia in 1989. After his first dive he trained as a BSAC diver in the UK. He attained his Diver Leader certification with BSAC. He then went on to become a scuba diving instructor, teaching others how to dive and was voted as Diving Officer and Treasurer for the Saffron Walden BSAC club too. Russell has dived all over the world, including the UK, on liveaboards in the Red Sea, the Caribbean, South Africa and the USA. Russell is experienced in all dive types, including drift diving, deep dives that involved decompression stops and recreational dives too.

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