4 PADI Certifications to Consider (With Diving Levels)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 26, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you dive recreationally or as part of your job, you can earn certifications to validate your experience and skills. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) provides various options for aspiring and experienced divers. Reviewing certifications offered by PADI can help you discover learning opportunities to meet your personal or professional diving needs. In this article, we define PADI certifications, explain the benefits of earning one, present seven certifications and diving levels to consider, review helpful certification tips, and answer frequently asked diving questions.

What are PADI certifications?

PADI certifications are credentials showing you completed training by the training organization. These credentials typically prioritize local environmental information. For example, a PADI training course may explore natural or man-made diving sites characterized by walls, pinnacles, and reefs. By learning about underwater ecosystems and practising your water skills, you can become a more informed diver.

PADI training courses typically consist of an online learning unit that covers basic diving theories. Then, there's typically diving practice in a controlled environment, such as a pond with sufficient visibility, before diving in open waters. This way, you can become familiar with the necessary diving equipment and procedures.

Benefits of earning a PADI certification

Here are various reasons to become PADI certified:

Enables you to start an exploration career

Marine science professionals typically require relevant certifications to work. A PADI certification can show you have theoretical and practical diving experience. Employers may also appreciate your commitment to learning and consider you for a promotion or raise. For example, while the national average salary for a diver is $26.56 per hour, those who earn a certification or choose a specialty may receive more pay.

Related: 15 Careers in Exploration (With Salary Information and FAQs)

Demonstrates diving safety

Because every course includes safety practices, earning a PADI certification can show you can dive responsibly. These certifications can also demonstrate your ability to use proper gear and handle diving challenges. For example, you can expect to learn mask clearing, which is the ability to remain calm as you remove water from your diving mask.

Expands your diving knowledge

Even if you dive as a hobby, a PADI certification can help you understand diving better. Staying informed about the best practices can also motivate you to engage in environmental activities, such as clean-up events. Evaluating your current scuba diving skills can help you choose a suitable PADI certification to pursue.

4 PADI certifications to consider

Here are popular options you can explore to become PADI certified:

1. PADI Open Water Diver

This PADI Open Water Diver is the first scuba certification level. Taught by a PADI instructor, you can expect to learn to scuba dive in a supportive learning environment. It typically takes four to seven days to complete your practice training, usually at a maximum depth of 18 metres. Like other certifications, you typically require a mask, fins, and a snorkel. Basic scuba gear, including a regulator, buoyancy control device (BCD), dive computer, may also be necessary.

2. PADI Advanced Open Water Diver

This advanced course can help you improve your scuba diving skills. It typically consists of five dives, including a deep dive below 18 metres, a navigation dive, and three specialty dives. They typically occur at a dive shop monitored by an instructor who ensures dives are at a maximum depth of 30 metres. Earning the PADI Open Water Diver credential typically qualifies you for this certification.

3. PADI Enriched Air (Nitrox) Diver

Enriched air, or nitrox, contains less nitrogen than regular air, which typically means you can enjoy longer dives. After your independent study, you can expect to meet with your diving instructor to complete the certification. The practical aspect involves learning to analyze a tank, filling enriched air logs, and setting a dive computer for nitrox. The PADI Enriched Air Diver certification typically takes one to two days.

4. PADI Divemaster

The PADI Divemaster certification course can help showcase your ability to lead diving activities. Through water-skill exercises, development sessions, and workshops, you can develop the qualities to direct scuba diving. As the highest available certification, PADI requires you to complete 40 logged dives, earn a CPR and First Aid certification, obtain medical clearance to dive, and complete its rescue diver course. You may also get university or college credit for earning the PADI Divemaster certification.

Related: 15 Jobs on the Water (With Salaries and Job Duties)

PADI diving levels

You can also consider becoming the following kinds of divers:

PADI discover scuba diver

If you're considering scuba diving but not yet prepared for certification, you can take the PADI Discover Scuba Diving course. It's an introduction to underwater exploration that typically takes a day to complete. You can expect to learn essential diving skills and discover what breathing underwater entails.

PADI scuba diver

Completing the PADI scuba diver course is an intermediate step toward earning an Open Water Diver certification. If you expect to scuba dive with an instructor, you can take this course. As a PADI scuba diver, you can dive up to a depth of 12 metres and purchase scuba equipment to participate in exploration activities.

PADI specialty diver

Becoming a PADI specialty diver typically requires you to complete a specialty course. For example, you can consider the PADI Underwater Navigator course or the PADI Deep Diving course. Specialty training typically requires completing basic diving training.

PADI rescue diver

The PADI rescue diver course can help you develop your problem-solving skills while diving and gain more confidence. It teaches you how to help divers during emergencies, identify distress signals, fix minor gear issues, and use an emergency oxygen kit. You typically require four to seven days to complete the course's practical aspect and become a PADI rescue diver.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Tips to become PADI certified

Whether you want to become PADI certified for entertainment or work, the following practices can help you succeed:

  • Consider your location: Your preferred dive sites can impact the certification you choose. For example, if you plan to reach sites using a boat, you can consider taking a boat diver specialty course.

  • Maintain physical fitness: Diving typically requires physical endurance, so it can help to practise your swimming and exercise regularly.

  • Consider practising with others: If you have friends or family members interested in PADI credentials, you can practise diving with them.

  • Follow all instructions: Listening to diving instructors is essential to keep everyone safe.

FAQs about PADI credentials

Here are helpful answers to questions you may have about PADI credentials:

Do PADI credentials expire?

Your PADI certification doesn't expire. If you take a break from diving and want to return, you can enroll in the ReActivate Scuba Refresher program. This training program can teach you how to assemble a scuba unit, handle diving common diving challenges, and perform basic skills with ease. It typically takes two to six hours to complete the practical aspect.

Where can you scuba dive?

You can typically dive anywhere there's water. For example, quarries, lakes, rivers, springs, and swimming pools are possible dive sites. Consider your experience level, the dive site's accessibility and conditions, and your recreational or professional interests to select a suitable location.

Related: What Is a Hobby? How to Make One Your Job (With Examples)

What are the requirements for learning to scuba dive?

While each certification has unique requirements, anyone above 10 years old can become certified or complete a course. PADI typically requires student divers to fill out a medical questionnaire to confirm their diving fitness. Basic swimming skills are also essential.

What document do you receive after earning a PADI certification?

PADI typically offers a digital or physical card, which you can upgrade as you earn new certifications. The training organization can also provide a replacement if required. Because certifications are international, you can typically show your PADI certification at any diving site.

What is the difference between snorkelling and skin diving?

Snorkelling is the activity of swimming using a mask and snorkel, a short tube for breathing. Snorkellers typically spend most of their time on water surfaces. In comparison, skin diving involves taking short dives underwater. Skin divers typically use flippers to reach their desired water depth.

How long does it take to become certified?

Many PADI courses and certifications are flexible and performance-based. This typically means your dive shop and an instructor can offer training schedules that align with your progress. Many instructors prioritize becoming more confident and comfortable over a program's duration.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on a hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

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