February 2, 2020


by: Reefers


Categories: Diving News

So What’s The Difference Between SSI and PADI?

There has been an ongoing debate with two worldly recognized dive associations that most divers will have come across.

Which dive agency is the best training program? SSI or PADI ?

When you make the leap underwater and decide to do a diving course, you have a choice to do that with different dive organizations. These organizations have developed their own teaching materials, standards and certifications which their instructors use to conduct the courses. There are quite a few organizations in the world and they all have different philosophies and standards. In general, the differences are not too big and no matter which organization you take a course with, you will use the same kind of equipment and see the same marine life under water.

Comparing SSI with PADI is like comparing Coke and Pepsi…..they are both very similar but everyone has their favourite! PADI has been established longer, and people recognise the name referring to doing a dive course as “doing their PADI”. However, SSI rapid growth in popularity reflects what a quality organisation it is. PADI spend their money on marketing and SSI spend their money on producing training products and user friendly applications.

Padi was established in 1966, and is recognised across the globe with their famous moto  “the way the world learns to dive’.

SSI was eastablished in 1970 and  SSI is the name to trust in the diving world, and they attribute that success to our uncompromising standards and focused methodology.

But is PADI that much more advanced in their training methods and certifications compared to SSI?

All recognized training agencies are governed by the RSTC (Recreational Scuba Training Council) of which both PADI and SSI are founding members. In order to meet the global standards required to teach independently, it is imperative that the right training course is chosen to suit your diving ability, thus enhancing your capabilities to be an exceptional representative for the diving community.

So What’s The Difference?

Statistically there are worldwide more than 6 million active divers. SSI and PADI are the most well known and respected diving education systems. SSI offer free online training. SSI also offers more flexibility with the structure of the course. If you get stuck on a particular skill of the the course, PADI standards dictate that we cannot continue until you have mastered that skill. SSI standards say you can move on and come back to that skill when you are more comfortable. This means with SSI we can offer tailor made courses to suit your learning style.

In addition to the industry standard Open Water Diver (including Junior Open Water Divers) qualification, SSI offers the following (which can be upgraded to Open Water certification with some additional training).

  • Basic Diver
  • Referral Diver
  • Indoor Diver
  • Scuba Diver

SSI also empowers our instructors to add information and/or skills if that improves the quality of the course. That doesn’t mean the instructor can do just anything, but we do like to give a student as much value as possible and make sure you get a quality course in which all aspects of that course and more are covered

Another advantage of using the SSI training course program is that, unlike PADI, if you lose your certification cards or diver number, thanks to the SSI app none of this is necessary! The SSI app is a superb learning tool which allows you to ditch all the books and start your learning straight from your phone.  Not only that, you can register your dives and recap on any information you may need at any time!

SSI offers all course theory online only. The advantages of this approach are many: the material is always up to date, there is no heavy manual to carry around, and the environmental impact is lower. SSI online training tends to be cheaper than that offered by PADI. On completion of your course, you will receive a plastic certification card with your photograph and personal details on it. The SSI smartphone app will give you access to your digital certification card for free. PADI has something similar but you have to pay extra for the digital card!

Many believe it’s the instructor that makes the diver not the agency so we want the best instructors just as much as you do. However, there is also the cost factor. PADI is more expensive than SSI and divers are often budget minded people who are practical about how they spend their diving dollar.

Many instructors prefer the SSI approach, which gives instructors much more flexibility in the sequence of skills that the student learns, while PADI maintains that skills cannot be moved from one in-water session to another, although the order of skills can be altered within a session.

With SSI we are able to process your certification card locally, so in most instances, you will receive your original certification card right at the end of your course and we don’t need to give you a “temporary” card. This means you will be registered straight away and you don’t need to wait for your original card to be sent home. No waiting months for your certification cards, when you complete the course – you are certified! With your card you may now dive anywhere else your travels take you!

With SSI you can choose to either borrow or purchase your manuals. In other words, you don’t have to buy the materials, if you want to use ours during the course and give it back at the end of it, that’s great!

PADI requires that you purchase the materials – no matter if you are traveling around the world or learning at home.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Are the certification cards of PADI and SSI recognized all over the world?
A: Yes, it doesn’t matter with which organization you have learned to dive. So if a PADI Open Water diver for example wants to dive with an SSI Dive center, that’s perfectly fine. This counts certification cards of all dive organizations.

Q: I have done my Open Water Diver course with PADI, can I do my Advanced Course with SSI or the other way around?
A: Yes, you can cross between PADI and SSI as much as you like for the recreational dive levels. Their levels are quite similar and certification of another dive organization is totally accepted. As noted all standards are set forth by the RSTC (Recreational Scuba Training Council).

Q: If I forgot to bring my certification card with me, will I still be able to dive?
A: Both PADI and SSI have an online system and since we are affiliated with both PADI and SSI, we will be able to look you up. If a dive center is not affiliated with the organization you have done your course with, they can contact them to see if you are in the system. A signed logbook also helps.


At the end of the day the choice of which diving organisation you want to learn with is entirely up to you.

At Reefers we were previously a 5 Star PADI Center for 10 years and now only a SSI Dive Center.

Happy bubbles everyone.

Check out SSI for more https://www.divessi.com/en-IC/home/