What’s the difference between PADI or SSI or IFDI and how does it affect me?
PADI or SSI are the two largest scuba diver certification bodies in the world. IFDI is fairly new diving organisation focusing on best courses (all ISO conform) at low cost. Their qualifications are recognized everywhere and you will able to take the next step up in the PADI system and vice versa, however the experience levels are different. Where OWD - level 1 diver is pretty much the same through all organizations, the 2nd level is totally different. With PADI you can make a course one after other one, in SSI you will need to show your experience. IFDI follows strict ISO and therefor is closer to SSI.
Which gives better training?
Training and safety standards in all those organizations are set by the World Recreational Scuba Training Council click here for WRSTC information. This means there’s no basic difference in the skills you will learn from either PADI, SSI or IFDI at entry level, or the safety standards they adhere to. In both systems – as in any system of learning – the character and experience of your Instructor will be the most important factor in your course.
So is there really any difference at all?
There are some differences of emphasis in training, and some in the way PADI and SSI dive centres supervise their instructors; briefly, PADI instructors may freelance while SSI requires them to be responsible to a dive centre. With SSI you will need to show also experience (number of dives) to reach the next level, PADI really doesn't care about your experience, you will be take one course straight after other one... This might be a safty factor. Where SSI instructors will be assess through the dive center and the organization rather than only organiztion her self. By IFDI you need to be Instructor from other organisation first, they don't offer professional level of training.
If they’re so similar, how come the prices are different?
PADI follows more conservative way of teaching, charges more for certification and requires to have a own book. SSI on the other hand uses a modern media to teach the theory, everything is available online from videos, manuals through log book to certification. Everything free of charge available everywhere every time on PC, Mac, iPhone or Android. IFDI handels the matter in same way however that is a low profit organisation - it means you pay only the necessary.
What are the most important factors when I make a choice?
As we’ve said, any course is only as good as the instructor teaching it. Price is always interesting as nobody likes pay too much. On an entry level - Open Water Diver there are not much differences in the program. However with SSI you will be able to make a next step not just signing in for a next course, you will have to show your diving experience. All the levels of experience by PADI, IFDI or SSI are ISO conform.
PADI vs SSI vs IFDI
IFDI - cheap, ISO conform
SSI - good price, well recognizable, ISO conform
PADI - pricey, highly recognizable