There are many options when it comes to scuba-training agencies, so deciding which organization is right for you is really a matter of personal preference. For many new divers, choosing a training agency comes down to convenience; for example, if your local dive center happens to be SSI affiliated, it’s likely you’ll become an SSI diver. If your friends are already BSAC certified, it’s likely you will want to be, too. Often, that first choice will dictate the agency that you dive with for life. Sometimes, though, a diver will find that, for whatever reason, they want to change agencies. Here we’ll take a look at one of the most common crossovers, whereby non-PADI divers become PADI divers.
Why make the switch?
Divers choose to crossover to PADI for many reasons, the most obvious being that PADI is the biggest and most widely recognized training agency in the world. There are more than 5,300 PADI-affiliated dive centers and resorts in over 160 countries and territories, which together account for more than 75 percent of the global total. Every year, PADI certifies more divers than all other dive-training agencies combined.
This does not necessarily mean that PADI offers a higher quality of teaching than other agencies — although you will find dive professionals who will passionately argue both sides of that statement. It does mean, however, that as a PADI diver, you’ll be part of the world’s largest and most respected scuba training organization, and that you’ll have access to more opportunities and resources as a result. This is important for recreational divers, but even more so for professionals, which is why the majority of agency crossovers occur at the professional level. Becoming a PADI Divemaster or Instructor is a wise career choice, simply because the majority of dive centers are PADI-affiliated and therefore exclusively hire PADI professionals. By switching to PADI, aspiring dive professionals increase their chances of employment exponentially.
How do I make the switch?
Divers who complete the pool training and knowledge development components of their entry-level course with another agency can complete their training with PADI via a referral process. In order to complete the crossover, divers must undergo a pre-assessment that indicates whether they have mastered the skills and the theory required to meet the PADI Open Water course standards. To do this, the referral diver will complete a skills session in confined water, as well as taking the Open Water Diver course final exam before completing their open water dives. Upon completion of all components, they will be certified as a PADI Open Water Diver. Referral crossovers at entry level are only acceptable if the student completed their theory and confined-water sessions with an agency recognized by PADI, including SSI, SDI, NAUI, CMAS and BSAC.
Alternatively, if you’re already certified through a recognized agency, it’s often possible to make the switch simply by enrolling in a PADI course that’s equivalent to your next level of training. For example, if you have an entry-level certification from NAUI or CMAS, you may qualify to enroll in a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course. Most recognized training agencies have equivalent certification levels, simply inquire at the nearest PADI-affiliated dive center which continuing education course you’re eligible to take. It’s worth noting that you can’t receive a certification unless you complete that specific course, i.e. you cannot convert your entry-level NAUI certification to a PADI Open Water Diver certification unless you complete the Open Water training and theory. Instead, you must complete the next course (i.e. Advanced Open Water), and become certified as a PADI diver thereafter.
A dive professional who has certified through another recognized training agency may meet the prerequisites for the next level PADI certification, assuming that they’re in good standing with their original training organization. For example, an SSI divemaster is able to enroll in a PADI Assistant Instructor course or a PADI Instructor Development course. However, as with recreational qualifications, a divemaster with another training agency cannot simply convert their certification to PADI Divemaster, unless they complete the PADI Divemaster course.
Those who have already achieved Instructor status through another recognized training agency are able to crossover and become a PADI Instructor, but to do so they must enroll in the second half of the Instructor Development Course (the Open Water Scuba Instructor program), and successfully complete a PADI Instructor exam. This introduces the crossover instructor to PADI teaching methods and instructional philosophies, thereby ensuring an understanding of the organization’s accepted standards.
To find out more about crossing over to PADI (whether you are a recreational or a professional diver), get in touch with your nearest PADI dive center or resort.