PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is one of the most influential scuba diving organizations across the world. A privately held company, PADI was a dream of two friends, a dream brought to fruition in 1966 to make scuba diving a professional and certified activity by offering training in all the nuances of the sport. By the end of the 80s, PADI had acquired the status of being the best scuba diving training organization across the world. Today, PADI has more than 136,000 certified instructors, six thousand dive shops and resorts and millions of certified divers across the world. Let’s take a look at some of the most-sought after PADI courses and what they entail:
PADI Open Water Course
The PADI Open Water Course is by far the most popular scuba diving certification course. Eligibility for this certification entails a minimum age of 10 years, high levels of fitness and knowledge of swimming (facts, techniques, diving skills and the various methods). The course begins with interactive presentations of videos, audio, graphics and reading. Participants are subject to frequent quizzes to assess their understanding of the safety gear.
Successful completion of five confined water dives and four open water training dives with the respective PADI instructor to a depth of sixty feet is a mandatory requirement. Once certified, a person can rent diving gear, dive anywhere in the world and avail of air-fills at PADI Dive Centres. While the costs vary from place to place, this course involves access to reading material, buying a mask, snorkel, pair of fins and other related diving equipment. It takes about three to four days to complete the open water course, though a lot depends entirely on the individual’s understanding, skills, passion and determination. Participants can choose to finish the course at their own pace.
The Advanced Open Water Course in Diving
This PADI course is great for building confidence and honing existing scuba diving skills, and offers an increased number of dives, new skills and dives to a depth of one hundred feet. The minimum age required to complete this course is 12 years and the participant needs to have an entry-level diver certificate.
One of the primary components of this course is underwater navigation, which teaches skills like navigating without a compass, relocating diving sites, marking/relocating submerged objects and estimation of distances underwater. The course finishes with the participant and the instructor choosing from fifteen types of adventure dives, noteworthy amongst which are wreck diving and diving with underwater scooters. In addition to this, the course also entails participation in ten rescue exercises in open water as well as confined water, followed by two rescue diver activities in open water.
Rescue Diver Course
The Rescue Diver course is the third level of certification and is for divers keen to understand the prevention and handling of emergencies during diving. It is concerned with a range of emergencies and ‘in-water’ rescue operations. Some of these include self-rescue, accident management, diver stress, assistance for responsive/unresponsive divers both underwater and at the surface, missing diver procedures, equipment and oxygen issues and responding to diver emergencies. The training for this course is very demanding and intensive, but leaves participants with sound experience in handling and managing rescue emergencies.
A participant has to be at least 12 years of age and possess certified underwater navigation training. The training comprises of a mixture of video and audio lessons and reading material, along with regular quizzes to help instructors understand the level of progress of the participant. Exams to ascertain a diver’s understanding of the subject are conducted, followed by practical training which involves in-water training. Participants also complete ten rescue exercises in open water and confined water.
Scuba Tune-up Course
The Scuba Tune-up course is apt for divers wanting to return to scuba diving after a hiatus. The eligibility requirements to enroll for the PADI Scuba Tune-up course include being a certified diver, a minimum age of ten years and physical fitness. Any individual of age ten years or more can sign up for the online PADI Scuba Tune-up e-course. The various topics covered include the fundamentals of dive planning, safe diving practices, dive planning fundamentals, dive computers and tables breathing air depths, diving with enriched air nitrox, problem management, planning dives with RDP and diving skills review.
In addition to regular audio-video interactive presentations, regular quizzes are conducted to ensure participants keep up with the course materials. The course finishes with individual examinations on the entire range of subjects covered. The Scuba Tune-up course does not include a practical session as the participants are expected to be certified divers. However, this varies from centre to centre.
Enriched Air Diver Course
The Enriched Air diver course is by far one of the most popular courses in scuba diving offered by PADI. The key reason behind its popularity is that the enriched air nitrox mixture utilized in this course gives divers the luxury of significantly more time underwater, along with zero decompression time. It is usually one of the first specialties acquired by beginners after the basic certification. Participants have to be of a minimum 12 years of age and physically fit for diving. The course offers training for techniques to garner more time underwater with the use of enriched air nitrox. It also teaches oxygen exposure management, enhanced understanding of the contents of the scuba tank and how to program the dive computer to track the depth of the diver as well as the time taken to reach different depths.
Participants are also trained in identifying danger signals and crucial time and depth boundaries to be avoided. The course material includes the PADI video and audio sessions as well as regular quizzing on the subject matter followed by a practical activity. It is imperative for a diver to have completed two enriched air training dives or pre-dive simulations to complete this course.