With over a hundred diver training organisations around, it’s hard to find the right one.  Then again, chances are  you have only heard about PADI training by now, as this is the most common diving certificate around. But does that make it the right choice for you? And how can you decide for yourself?
Well, let’s just take a look at some of the more important factors to take into account.

A good sense of judgement.

It may seem strange to mention this first, but as a “diver-to-be” selecting the right course  is just a first of many decisions you’ll end up making. Diving is one the safest sports around. That is, if you respect the basic rules of diving. Although no common practise it is necessary to avoid diving schools or instructors who are only in it fo the money. Especially, If you plan on diving for a first time during your holidays, it may be a good idea to do some research. All qualified instructors have their paperwork up to date. guidelines are strict as organisations care about the quality of training and your safety.

For those of you who have diven before and feel insecure because it has been a while,  a refresher course might be a good idea.

The instructor.

There are numerous diving instructors out there. All have their own reasons for teaching, and they all have their own personal methods. When contacting a diving school, diving store or diving instructor, ask them anything you feel is useful. Make sure you are dealing with a certified diving instructor and feel free to ask about their past experiences and training methods.
Your instructor will be your guide and mentor during the entire course. The quality of training you’ll experience will be based mainly on how you relate to your instructor. If you have any concerns, tell him/her. Never mind the organisation they represent, if their teaching method make you feel comfortable, go for it!

International certification.

Chances are you want to dive because of the tropical areas involved. So it’s wise to know whether or not the training you’re about to attend will lead to an international certification. So make sure to check this.

I’ve summed some of the most common certifications around, but this list is defintely not restrictive.

  • PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) –  entry-level certification :  open water diver
  • CMAS (Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques) – entry-level certification : CMAS 1 star diver (1*)
  • NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) – entry-level certification : scuba diver
  • BSAC (Britisch Sub Aqua Club) – entry-level certification : Ocean Diver or club Diver
  • SSI (Scuba Schools International) -entry-level certification : open water
  • SAA (Sub Aqua Association) : Club diver

Package deals or continuous training.

Organisations such as PADI are commonly represented by diving stores, schools or resorts. Meaning you pay for a full package within a certain period. After successfully completion of the training, you will receive the mentioned certificate. This will basically allow you to get certified within a relatively short period of time and is a very interesting formula when on holidays or when you generally lack time.

Other organisations such as CMAS (locally represented in Belgium by NELOS for the Flemish region and by LIFRAS for the French region) provide similar modular courses but are usually provided by clubs who integrate the training into their membership. Allowing you to advance more gradually.  Probably this method becomes more cost-effective as you aren’t presented with extra costs per certification. Personally, I think this  is a good way to start diving if you are uncertain about your capabilities or comfort level, as you can choose your own pace during training.

Other aspects.

depth restriction: Some certifications allow you to dive a little deeper than others – but generally the limit for a beginning diver lies around  60ft (18m).
cost: The cost may vary, especially when you start checking prices from different countries.
Insurance: Althoug insurance is generally covered by the surf school, be aware to check this.

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