Professional Association of Diving Instructors

Professional Association of Diving Instructors
Professional Association of Diving Instructors
Abbreviation PADI
Motto The Way the World Learns to Dive
Formation 1966
Headquarters Rancho Santa Margarita, California,  United States
Membership over 130,000 dive professional, 6000 Dive Centers and Resorts
Leader John Cronin and Ralph Erickson
Affiliations DSAT, Project AWARE, Emergency First Response, Current Publishing

The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) is the world's largest recreational diving membership and diver training organization founded in 1966 by John Cronin and Ralph Erickson.[1] Cronin was originally a NAUI instructor who decided to form his own organization with Erickson, and to break diver training down into different courses instead of the single universal course then prevalent.[2]

PADI courses range from entry levels (such as "Scuba Diver" and "Open Water Diver") to "Master Scuba Diver" and a range of instructor certifications. Via their affiliate, Diving Science and Technology (DSAT), they also offer various technical diving courses, including decompression diving, trimix diving and gas blending.

The PADI system is composed of modules with standardized learning objectives divided into theory and practical skills development. Theory is mainly conveyed by way of self-study using books, computer based training using CD-ROM or online learning.[3] All study options are supplemented with video to help the student diver visualize what they have read. Confirmation of the student diver's level of mastery in standardized knowledge review sessions is carried out by a scuba instructor. Practical skills mastery is obtained through confined water training (pools or relatively shallow water) and performance evaluations in open water. Upon completion of each course, a certification is issued to the student.

PADI courses are performance based dive programs, and at the introductory level emphasize practical knowledge, safety and motor skills. The foundations of diving physics, physiology and chemistry are built during entry level programs. The more esoteric details of these concepts are left for later courses when the diver has gained practical knowledge and experience beyond the entry level. These practices fall within current modern learning philosophies and receive regular updates via peer review.[4][5]

PADI is a member of the World Recreational Scuba Training Council.[6]



PADI members, including dive centers, resorts, educational facilities, instructors, and divemasters, teach the majority of the world's recreational divers.[7] PADI operates offices in Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The corporate headquarters, PADI Worldwide, is located in California, United States of America. PADI offices serve more than 130,000 individual professional members and more than 5,700 dive centers and resorts in more than 180 countries and territories. Translations of PADI materials are available in more than 26 languages.[8]

Today PADI issues approximately 950,000 certifications a year, of which approximately 550,000 are entry level certifications.[9] Over the years since its formation PADI has become a prominent provider of scuba diver training; an online extract of the 2007 edition of Frommer's Portable Aruba indicated that "70% of divers in the United States and approximately 55% of divers worldwide" were certified by PADI.[7] Research by Leisure Trends for the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association[10] shows that in 1999 almost 60% of retailers in the US issued PADI certificates, while NAUI and SSI certificates were issued by about 20% each. Unfortunately there is currently no centralised source of accurate industry-wide information regarding the combined number of certifications issued by all the certifying agencies within the recreational diving industry. In the absence of a reliable source of independent industry-wide data, the above statement should be viewed as an estimate only and should not be relied upon as being evidence of PADI's current level of representation within the dive industry.


PADI is oftentimes subject to criticism. In particular, two accusations are sometimes made against the organization: that it "dumbs down" scuba diving training courses, making them too short and easy;[11] and that it "profiteers" from demand for diver training.[12]

In 2006 PADI was severely criticized by a Coroner's court in the United Kingdom for providing what experts regarded as short and insufficient training.[13] No representative of PADI gave evidence at the inquest, but PADI subsequently issued a rejoinder that in the decade since PADI had come to play a dominant role in diver training, the numbers of diving accidents had declined.[14] Although PADI training standards differ from those formerly prevalent in the United Kingdom under the BSAC system, PADI training standards are consistent with World Recreational Scuba Training Council standards.[15]

The accusation of profiteering is more difficult to justify. Although PADI is often referred to facetiously as a mnemonic for 'Put Another Dollar In',[16] PADI is a for-profit organization, and thus is expected to generate commercial returns from diver training. Further, given the large number of competitor diver training organizations, PADI could not realistically be accused of market abuse.[citation needed]

A third, more benign criticism that is sometimes made is that PADI over-elaborates the training process, leading to the award of large numbers of different certificates, certification cards and embroidered patches for any diver who continues their diving education up to advanced levels. For instance, divers can earn a "boat diver" specialty certification. For many divers, boat diving is a common occurrence that does not require the special, costly course that PADI may appear to convince novice divers they do need.

Project AWARE

In 1995, PADI founded Project AWARE to help conserve underwater environments. Project AWARE information has been integrated in most courses and divers are offered the chance to exchange their normal certificate for an AWARE-certificate by making a donation to the program when sending in their application for a new certificate.

Affiliate companies

Emergency First Response is a PADI affiliate providing CPR and First Aid training both for the lay person and in the work place.[17]

Current Publishing Corporation develops marine science programs for high school and upper level educational facilities.[18]

Diving Science and Technology Corporation (DSAT) is the development arm for the Recreational Dive Planner and PADI's Tec-Rec program.[19]

PADI non certification programs

PADI kids programs

PADI recreational diving certifications

The PADI training system.

PADI specialty courses

PADI provide a range of specialty courses, examples of which include:

"Distinctive" specialties

In addition to the mainstream specialty courses above, individual PADI instructors can prepare and teach (with PADI's approval) their own distinctive specialty courses, and dozens of such courses abound. Some of the courses represent less frequently used mainstream skills (such as "Twin-set diver", "Full face-mask diver", "Surface Marker Buoy" and "Advanced wreck diver" specialties). Others are abstract either with reference to skills or locale (it is possible to take specialties in "Golf ball diver", "Zen/Yoga diver", "Underwater wedding" or site-specific specialties such as "Wreck of the Rhone diver" and "Spiegel Grove Diver"[21]).

PADI professional certifications

  • PADI Divemaster
  • PADI Assistant Instructor
  • PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI)
  • PADI Specialty Instructor
  • PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT)
  • PADI IDC Staff Instructor
  • PADI Master Instructor
  • PADI Course Director

See also


  1. ^ DAN News (2003-07-17). "PADI CEO & Co-Founder John Cronin Dies at Age 74". Divers Alert Network. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  2. ^ Tillman, Tom. "The history of PADI". Scuba America Historical Foundation. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  3. ^ PADI. "PADI eLearning". Professional Association of Diving Instructors. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  4. ^ a b Richardson, D and Shreeves, K (1996). "The PADI Enriched Air Diver course and DSAT oxygen exposure limits.". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal 26 (3). ISSN 0813-1988. OCLC 16986801. Retrieved 2008-05-02. 
  5. ^ a b Richardson, D and Shreeves, K (1998). "The PADI approach to diver rescue training.". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal 28 (2). ISSN 0813-1988. OCLC 16986801. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  6. ^ "WRSTC Member Councils". World Recreational Scuba Training Council. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  7. ^ a b "Scuba diving". New York Times. 2006-11-20. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  8. ^ PADI. "Why PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors)?". Professional Association of Diving Instructors. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  9. ^ "PADI certification statistics". Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  10. ^ The Leasure Trends Group. "The Scuba Diving Market in the United States". The Diving Equipment and Marketing Association. Retrieved 2010-10-07. 
  11. ^ "Unsafe at any Depth: PADI Scuba Diver". CDNN. Retrieved 2009-04-16. ; "Find out how divers do it". Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  12. ^ "Scuba diving". Retrieved 2009-04-16. [dead link]
  13. ^ McGrath, Ginny (August 9, 2006). "PADI scuba-dive course slammed". London: The Times. Retrieved 2009-04-16.  "Inquest warning on diving courses". BBC News. August 8, 2006. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  14. ^ "PADI response to "scuba crash"". The 10 Foot Stop. August 26, 2006. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  15. ^ "ANSI Accredited Standards Developers listing" (pdf). American National Standards Institute. pp. 150. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  16. ^ "PADI: put another dollar in?". Dive Herald. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  17. ^ "Emergency First Response". PADI. 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  18. ^ "Current Publishing". Current Publishing Corp. 2006. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  19. ^ Hamilton Jr RW, Rogers RE, Powell MR (1994). Development and validation of no-stop decompression procedures for recreational diving: the DSAT recreational dive planner.. Tarrytown, NY: Diving Science & Technology Corp.. Retrieved 2008-06-16. 
  20. ^ Richardson, D; Menduno, M; Shreeves, K. (eds). (1996). "Proceedings of Rebreather Forum 2.0.". Diving Science and Technology Workshop.: 286. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  21. ^ "Specialty Courses". Ocean Divers. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 

External links

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