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Professional Association of Diving Instructors
HeadquartersRancho Santa Margarita, California, United States
Region served
~128,000 dive professionals, 6,600+ dive centers and resorts
LeaderDrew Richardson
Parent organization
PADI Worldwide Corp.[1]
Emergency First Response
Current Publishing

The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) is a recreational diving membership and diver training organization founded in 1966 by John Cronin and Ralph Erickson.[2] PADI courses range from entry level to advanced recreational diver certification. Further, they provide several specialized diving skills courses connected with specific equipment or conditions, some diving related informational courses and a range of recreational diving instructor certifications. They also offer various technical diving courses. As of 2023, PADI is reported to have issued 29 million scuba certifications.[3]


In 1966, PADI was founded by John Cronin and Ralph Erickson.[2] Cronin was originally a NAUI instructor who decided to form his own organization with Erickson, and to break diver training down into several modular courses instead of the single universal course then prevalent.[4] Erickson developed continuing education scuba courses during this time and wrote the initial issue of the first trade magazine for scuba instructors, The Undersea Journal. Cronin got the idea for PADI's Positive Identification Card at a trade show. PADI established the Master Scuba Diver rank, the industry's first certification awarded for accumulation of specified certification and experience, and not based on a specific training program,[Note 1] in 1973, later launching the modular scuba program. By 1979, PADI was producing 100,000 certifications a year after previously hitting 25,000 a year. PADI was the first organization to use confined water or pool dives for training new divers and introduced the PADI Rescue Diver course and manual for rescue training during the 1980s.[5][6][7]

In 1989, PADI founded Project AWARE to help conserve underwater environments.[8] In 1992, Project AWARE Foundation became a registered nonprofit organization with an environmental mission and purpose.[8] PADI continues to partner with PADI AWARE, supporting the organization with in-kind services, donations through its processes and connection to the PADI network of divers, dive professionals and dive centers.[9] PADI AWARE information has been integrated in most courses and divers are offered the chance to exchange their normal certification card for an AWARE-certification card by making a donation to the program when sending in their application for a new certification.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12]

On 9 August 2012, Lincolnshire Management and Providence Equity Partners jointly acquired PADI from Seidler Equity Partners.[13] In 2015, Providence Equity Partners acquired majority stake of PADI from Lincolnshire Management.

In 2017, Providence Equity Partners LLC sold PADI[14] to Canadian investment firm Altas Partners and French private equity firm Florac for 700 million USD, through an entity called Mandarin fish Holding.[15]

In 2018, PADI launched PADI Travel, an online dive travel resource and booking platform for dive resort and live-aboard packages.[16]

In 2021, PADI reported it had a membership of over 128,000 professional members and 6,600 dive centers, and had awarded more than 28 million diving certifications internationally. PADI operates in 186 countries and territories.[3] From 2015-2020, the average male to female membership split was approximately 63% to 37% respectively. The organization hosts Women's Dive Day events across the globe in an effort to increase awareness for women divers.[17]

Training system

PADI courses are performance-based diver training[Note 2] programs, and at the introductory level emphasizes practical knowledge, safety and motor skills. The basics of diving physics and physiology are introduced during entry level programs. The details of these concepts are left for later courses when they are necessary for the required competences of the specific training. According to PADI, these practices fall within current modern learning philosophies and receive regular updates via peer review.[18][19]

The PADI training system is composed of modules with standardized learning objectives divided into theory and practical skills development. Each module is a stand-alone course for which certification is provided to the participant on successful completion of the course. Theory is mainly conveyed by way of self-study using books or digital training using PADI E-Learning.[20] All study options are supplemented with video and, in most cases, live instruction to help the participant visualize what they have read.[21] Confirmation of the student diver's level of competence in standardized knowledge review sessions is carried out by a scuba instructor using both written tests and personal observation during dives to verify the student's knowledge and skills. Practical skills are obtained through confined water training (pools or relatively shallow water) and performance evaluations in open water.

PADI courses target four progressive experience demographics, designated by PADI as "Youth", "Beginner", "Continuing Education" and "Professional".[22] Options are available for students or instructors to attain additional certifications across a range of categories, including "Essentials",[Note 3] "Safety Focus",[Note 4] "Advanced Skills",[Note 5] "Cold Water",[Note 6] "Conservation",[Note 7] "Photography", "Discovery",[Note 8] "Freediving" and "Technical Diving".

For the youth demographic, the Padi Seal Team and Bubblemaker Programs are provided for students ages 8+.[22]

As of 2023, the courses in "Beginner", "Continuing Education" and "Professional" categories include:[22]

Beginner Continuing Education Professional
  • Discover Scuba Diving
  • Scuba Diver
  • Open Water Diver
  • Advanced Open Water Diver
  • Enriched Air (Nitrox) Diver
  • Night Diver
  • Diver Against Debris
  • Dive Theory
  • Emergency First Response Instructor
  • Assistant Instructor
  • Divemaster
  • Open Water Scuba Instructor
Safety Focus
  • Emergency First Response: Primary and Secondary Care
  • Emergency First Response: CPR & AED
  • Emergency First Response: Care for Children
  • Rescue Diver
  • Public Safety Diver
  • Emergency Oxygen Provider
  • Adaptive Support Diver[23]
  • Delayed Surface Marker Buoy (DSMB) Diver[24]
Advanced Skills
  • Adventure Diver
  • Peak Performance Bouyancy[25]
  • Underwater Navigator
  • Deep Diver
  • Night Diver
  • Full Face Mask Diver
  • Self-Reliant Diver
  • Drift Diver
  • Boat Diver
  • Search and Recovery Diver
  • Sidemount Rec Diver
  • Wreck Diver
  • Equipment Specialist
  • Diver Propulsion Vehicle
  • Multlevel Diver
  • Cavern Diver
  • Altitude Diver[26]
  • Master Scuba Diver Trainer
  • Master Instructor
  • Speciality Instructor (25+ courses)
  • Adaptive Techniques
  • IDC Staff Instructor
  • Course Director
Cold Water
  • Dry Suit Diver
  • Ice Diver
  • Night Diver
  • Cavern Diver
Conservation Padi AWARE Speciality
  • Underwater Naturalist
  • Fish Identification
  • Coral Reef Conservation
  • Dive Against Debris
  • AWARE Shark Conservation
  • Digital Underwater Photographer
  • Underwater Videographer
  • Self-Reliant Diver
  • Fish Identification
  • Discover Technical Diving
  • Discover Local Diving
  • Advanced Mermaid
  • Advanced Freediver
  • Master Freediver
  • Freediver Instructor
  • Advanced Freediver Instructor
  • Master Freediver Instructor
  • Freediver Instructor Trainer
  • Discover Technical Diving
  • Tec Trimix Diver
  • Tec 40 & Tec 40 Trimix
  • Tec 45 & Tec 45 Trimix
  • Tec 50 & Tec 50 Trimix
  • Tec Trimix 65
  • Tec Sidemount
  • Tec Gas Blender
  • Discover Rebreather Program
  • Rebreather Diver
  • Advanced Rebreather Diver
  • Tec 40 CCR
  • Tec 60 CCR
  • Tec 100 CCR
  • Tec Gas Blender Instructor
  • Tec Trimix Instructor
  • Tec Sidemount Instructor
  • Tec 40 Instructor & Tec 40 Trimix Instructor
  • Tec 45 Instructor & Tec 45 Trimix Instructor
  • Tec 50 Instructor & Tec 50 Trimix Instructor
  • Tec 60 Instructor
  • Tec 60 CCR Instructor
  • Tec 100 CCR Instructor

Workplace programs

PADI offers a specialty program called Public Safety Diver for divers who are either employed in or serve as volunteers in the public safety diving sector principally within the United States.[27]

First aid programs

PADI, via its subsidiary, Emergency First Response, Corp, distributes the following programs in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid for both divers and non-divers:[28]

Accreditation and memberships

PADI courses are recognized, recommended and cited by the institutions and organizations listed below for both recreational diving and vocational training.

PADI courses are recommended for college credit in the US by ACE.[31] PADI is a member of the United States Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC).[32]

Recognition's and equivalencies has been established between PADI and Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques,[33] the Colombian Navy,[34] and Fédération Française d'Études et de Sports Sous-Marins (FFESSM).[35] PADI is also a registered training organisation in Australia.[30] As of 2012, PADI rescue diver and divemaster programs are included on the United Kingdom's Health and Safety Executive list of approved diving qualifications.[36]

Those PADI courses aligning with standards published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for 'Recreational diving services' were audited by the European Underwater Federation (EUF) Certification Body in 2004 and 2009, and were certified at both times as complying with these standards.[37][failed verification] The relevant certifications may include:

Most PADI training programes are not directly covered by ISO standards.

PADI is a member of the following member councils of the World Recreational Scuba Training Councilthe RSTC Canada, the RSTC Europe and the C-Card Council (Japan).[32][38][39][40]

Affiliates and sponsorships

Since 2009, PADI and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have maintained a mutual support partnership.[41] In Canada, PADI sponsors the Scouts Canada Scuba Program.[42] Affiliates include:

Citations in professional literature

PADI's instructional methodology is cited in EDUCAUSE's 2012 book, Game Changers: Education and Information Technologies regarding badges as "a symbol or indicator of an accomplishment, skill, quality, or interest. From the Boy and Girl Scouts to PADI diving instruction, to the more recently popular geolocation game Foursquare, badges have been successfully used to set goals, motivate behaviors, represent achievements, and communicate success in many contexts."[46]

PADI's environmental emphasis is cited in the 2007 book, New Frontiers in Marine Tourism, in its section, Dive Tourism, Sustainable Tourism and Social Responsibility: A Growing Agenda – Environmental management and education: the case of PADI, (Chapter Seven). "PADI, as well as other diver certification organisations and individual businesses, has put significant resources into conservation and developed public awareness programs".[47]

New Frontiers in Marine Tourism also cites in the section entitled Student Scholarships and Social Responsibility: A Growing Agenda for PADI, that "The PADI Scholarship program … is a good example of the way that various disparate parts of an industry, each with limited resources, can pool their efforts to help more people from developing countries to enter the diving profession… PADI recognizes that good relations with the involvement of local people is essential both to business development and to environmental protection. The scholarship scheme makes entry into the dive business more possible for some students who have the backing of their dive center."[47]

See also


  1. ^ PADI awards their Master Scuba Diver Recognition to a diver who completes:
    • Advanced Open Water Diver course or equivalent
    • PADI Rescue Diver course, with Emergency First Response course
    • any Five different PADI specialty diving courses additional to Rescue Diver and EFR
    • Logs 50 dives
  2. ^ A system of learning based on the learner performing tasks to demonstrate knowledge and skills
  3. ^ Skills useful for reducing risk to the divers themselves.
  4. ^ Skills helpful for assisting another diver.
  5. ^ General diving skills beyond the minimum necessary for acceptable personal safety in benign conditions – more advanced than basic entry level requirements.
  6. ^ In reality, night and cavern diving do not imply cold water.
  7. ^ Basic ecological awareness and how to avoid doing direct environmental harm.
  8. ^ Introductory experiences with more complex scuba equipment, no certification.


  1. ^ "Company Overview of PADI Worldwide Corp". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on May 25, 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b DAN News (2003-07-17). "PADI CEO & Co-Founder John Cronin Dies at Age 74". Divers Alert Network. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  3. ^ a b "PADI Worldwide Corporate Statistics" (PDF). Professional Association of Diving Instructors. 2021. Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  4. ^ Tillman, Tom. "The history of PADI". Scuba America Historical Foundation. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
  5. ^ "PADI in the 1960s". 29 January 2016.
  6. ^ "PADI in the 1970s". 24 February 2016.
  7. ^ "PADI in the 1980s". 30 March 2016.
  8. ^ a b "PADI history, growth and mission for the future".
  9. ^ "Partners".
  10. ^ "Project Aware". Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  11. ^ McGrath, Ginny (August 9, 2006). "PADI scuba-dive course slammed". The Times. London. Retrieved 2009-04-16. "Inquest warning on diving courses". BBC News. August 8, 2006. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  12. ^ "ANSI Accredited Standards Developers listing" (PDF). American National Standards Institute. p. 150. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-05-14. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  13. ^ "Lincolnshire Management Acquires Padi Americas". Retrieved 2019-09-11.
  14. ^ Jarzemsky, Matt. "Providence Equity Sells Scuba Certifier PADI for $700 Million". WSJ. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  15. ^ "Padi Americas, Private Equity Backed Company, (2017-06-28)". Retrieved 2019-09-11.
  16. ^ "PADI Introduces the All-New PADI Travel". (Press release). 23 January 2018. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  17. ^ "PADI Women Scuba Diving Update". FirstRead.Me. 2017-06-27. Retrieved 2017-08-01.
  18. ^ Richardson, D & 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. Archived from the original on October 24, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-02.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  19. ^ Richardson, D & Shreeves, K (1998). "The PADI approach to diver rescue training". South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society Journal. 28 (2). ISSN 0813-1988. OCLC 16986801. Archived from the original on January 13, 2013. Retrieved 2008-04-26.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  20. ^ "PADI eLearning". Professional Association of Diving Instructors. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  21. ^ "A Guide To PADI Open Water Scuba Diving Certification Courses".
  22. ^ a b c "PADI Courses". PADI Courses. Retrieved 6 Dec 2023.
  23. ^ "Adaptive Support Diver". Archived from the original on 2 January 2024. Retrieved 2 March 2024.
  24. ^ "Delayed Surface Marker Buoy (DSMB) Diver". Retrieved 3 March 2024.
  25. ^ "Peak Performance Buoyancy". Retrieved 2 March 2024.
  26. ^ "Altitude Diver". Retrieved 2 March 2024.
  27. ^ "Public Safety Diver". Professional Association of Diving Instructors. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  28. ^ "Emergency First Response, Course links". Emergency First Response, Corp. Archived from the original on 9 June 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  29. ^ "Emergency First Response Workplace Courses". Emergency First Response, Corp. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  30. ^ a b "Organisation details: 6729 – PADI Asia Pacific Pty Ltd". Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  31. ^ "PADI International, Inc". American Council on Education. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  32. ^ a b "United States Agencies". WRSTC. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  33. ^ "C.M.A.S. / PADI Agreement" (PDF). Norges Dykkeforbund. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-05-08. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  34. ^ "Graduation of the first divers in the Navy "Barranquilla" NCO School ARC". Colombia National Navy. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  35. ^ Staff (2013-11-25). "Passerelles FFESSM/PADI" (PDF). Brevets et qualifications (in French). FFESSM. pp. 1–13. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-08-24. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  36. ^ "Diving at Work Regulations 1997 List of Approved Diving Qualifications dated 22nd October 2012" (PDF). HSE. pp. 4 & 24. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-10-10. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  37. ^ "EUF Training systems for Recreational Scuba Divers – certificate holder Professional Association of Diving Instructors". Austrian Standards plus GmbH. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  38. ^ "Canadian Agencies". WRSTC. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  39. ^ "European Agencies". WRSTC. Archived from the original on 17 June 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  40. ^ "Japan Agencies". WRSTC. Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  41. ^ "Boy Scouts of America".
  42. ^ "Scouts Canada Scuba Program". Scouts Canada. Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  43. ^ "Emergency First Response". PADI. 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
  44. ^ "Current Publishing". Current Publishing Corp. 2006. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
  45. ^ Hamilton Jr RW, Rogers RE, Powell MR (1994). Development and validation of no-stop decompression procedures for recreational diving: the DSAT recreational dive planner (Report). Tarrytown, NY: Diving Science & Technology Corp. Archived from the original on August 7, 2009. Retrieved 2008-06-16.((cite report)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  46. ^ Oblinger, Diana (2012). Game Changers: Education and Information Technologies. EDUCAUSE (April 26, 2012). p. 279. ISBN 978-1933046006.
  47. ^ a b Garrod, Brian (2008). New Frontiers in Marine Tourism. Routledge (October 18, 2007). ISBN 978-0080453576.