To become a certified SCUBA diver, the first step is completing diving training with a recognized SCUBA diving training agency. While there are hundreds of training agencies worldwide, two of the most prestigious diving training organizations are the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). People with an interest in learning to scuba dive frequently ask about the qualifications, requirements, and programs of each organization. Essentially, these questions boil down to a single inquiry: “Which of these two agencies, NAUI vs PADI, is better?”
We broke down some things you need to know about SCUBA training agencies so you can better understand their importance, how the process works and decide which agency is right for you.
What is a Diving Training Agency (SCUBA)?
A SCUBA diving training agency is an organization recognized by the International Standards Organization (ISO) to provide safe, comprehensive training for SCUBA divers. It is important to note that there is no single government body that oversees scuba certification programs worldwide. However, ISO is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. In this capacity, ISO sets consistent standards for top-tier diving training across the globe.
What is a C-card?
At an ISO-approved training agency, divers receive SCUBA training and graduate with their Certification card (C-card). This document is proof that the diver completed the necessary training and has the proper skills and knowledge to dive. Every time you dive, you must have your C-card with you. C-cards from PADI and NAUI do not expire. However, proof that you dived recently is frequently requested by dive centers. It is recommended that if you have not dived recently and are trying to start again, you should take a refresher course with a training agency.
About Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI)
PADI is considered to be the biggest and most famous dive certification organization in the world. Since 1966, this agency has offered various performance-based diving courses for diving students. While the main office is in the United States, PADI centers are all over the globe. Over half of the divers in the world were trained and certified by PADI.
About National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI)
NAUI is the oldest not-for-profit scuba certification organization in the United States. Operating out of Florida since 1960, NAUI promotes safe diving by offering comprehensive diving courses for everyone from beginners to more experienced individuals. This organization offers diving courses that are very much alike to those offered by PADI. NAUI is the second-most prominent scuba certification agency, with PADI landing in the first position.
The Main Differences: NAUI vs PADI
New SCUBA divers commonly ask about the similarities and differences between NAUI and PADI. Because these two diving certification institutions are the most notable in the United States, choosing between the two can be difficult. However, generally speaking, the agencies are very similar. The few exceptions that differentiate the two agencies are below.
- Business Structure. While PADI is a standard for-profit business, NAUI is the oldest non-profit certification organization.
- Naming Conventions. Both agencies offer a variety of certifications for different level divers, including introductory diving, open water diving, and free diving. However, the two agencies do use different names to refer to similar training. For example, their basic training programs are known as “Open water” at PADI vs. “Open Water SCUBA diver” at NAUI. Within these programs, and others, the practical applications of diving are similar.
- Life-saving Skills. There are a few skills that one agency focuses on while the other does not. For example, the main difference between the certifications at the basic stage is that NAUI will train its divers the basic skills of saving an unconscious diver but PADI does not. NAUI certification also requires a skin dive, but PADI does not. For these reasons, the United States Navy uses NAUI certification. This may prompt some new divers to opt for this agency instead of PADI.
- Certification Timeline. With PADI, you get certified as soon as you complete all the required skills in the program. However, with NAUI, you first have to complete the skills. Next, your trainer has to be satisfied that you are ready for the water before they will officially certify you.
Otherwise, both agencies are major institutions within the SCUBA diving industry. When considering NAUI vs PADI, remember that both agencies offer unique opportunities to divers, support ocean conservation and provide resources to divers of all levels all across the globe. Remember that, ultimately, no matter which certification agency you choose, you will be qualified to dive on SCUBA.
Train with Divers Institute of Technology
Whether you are certified with NAUI or PADI, a rewarding career in diving may be just around the corner. At Divers Institute of Technology, we don’t just train a single type of diver. We focus on creating a well-balanced diver who can succeed in the many aspects of commercial diving. You will gain real-world experience with professional diving, benefit from an intensive, hands-on curriculum, and make connections within the diving industry. To learn more about training at DIT, contact us today. You can also fill out an application here.
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