Scuba Schools International

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Scuba Schools International
HeadquartersFort Collins, Colorado, United States
Region served
Parent organization

Scuba Schools International (SSI) is a for-profit organization that teaches the skills involved in scuba diving and freediving, and supports dive businesses and resorts. SSI has over 2,500 authorized dealers, 35 regional centers, and offices all over the world.[citation needed]


SSI was founded by Robert Clark in 1970.[1] SSI headquarters are in Fort Collins, Colorado, and it is owned by Concept Systems International, Inc. In 2008, it was acquired by Doug McNeese, owner of the National Association of Scuba Diving Schools (USA) until its merger with SSI in 1999, and Robert Stoss, manager of Scubapro and Seemann Sub. On January 1, 2014, SSI was acquired by HEAD, which also includes the Mares brand of diving equipment, HEAD NV, for €4.9m.[2][3]


SSI offers internationally recognized recreational diver training programs - starting with snorkeling and entry level scuba diving courses up to instructor certifications. The most common programs are: SSI Open Water Diver (OWD) and Advanced Open Water Diver (AOWD). There are more than 30 different specialty courses. Dive leader training programs start with the Dive Control Specialist (who is qualified like Assistant Instructor) followed by Open Water Instructor and above.[citation needed] SSI's training program for children aged 8–12 years is called Scuba Rangers.[4] The training program for technical divers is called TechXR (Technical Extended Range) and includes decompression diving, trimix and other courses that exceed the limit for recreational divers.[citation needed]

SSI scuba certifications are recognized throughout the world (such as RSTC - Recreational Scuba Training Council, EUF - European Underwater Federation, CUA - China Underwater Association and others).[citation needed]

The main difference to other dive training organizations is that SSI instructors are only allowed to teach at SSI Dive Centers or SSI accredited dive clubs that adopt a franchise-like concept.[5]

SSI is a member of the following councils of the World Recreational Scuba Training Council - the United States RSTC, the RSTC Europe and C-Card Council (Japan).[6][7][8] It is also a member of the European Underwater Federation.[9] SSI obtained CEN certification from the EUF certification body in 2005.[10] It received ISO certification on June 1, 2010.

Programs, certification and progression[edit]

SSI education system

The SSI Training Standards outline the offered programs, their prerequisites and certification progression.[11]

Non-certification programs[edit]

  • Try Scuba

Entry-level scuba diving certification[edit]

In addition to the industry standard Open Water Diver (including Junior Open Water Diver for under 15s) qualification, SSI offers the following (which can be upgraded to Open Water certification with some additional training).

  • Basic Diver (ISO 11121)
  • Referral Diver
  • Indoor Diver
  • Scuba Diver (ISO 24801-1) (including Junior Scuba Diver for under 15s)

The Open Water Diver complies with Autonomous diver, ISO 24801-2.[11] The Autonomous diver level is variously described as the best,[12] and most popular,[13] introductory scuba qualification.

Progression beyond Open Water[edit]

After Open Water certification, progression mainly depends on completing Scuba Specialty Programs and logging certain numbers of dives.[11]

  • Advance Adventurer: a program of five adventure dives and an introduction to the theory of 12 specialties. Considered equivalent to PADI's Advanced Open Water certificate.[11]
  • Specialty Diver: automatically awarded upon completion of 12 logged dives and two specialty programs.[14]
  • Advanced Open Water Diver: automatically awarded upon completion of 24 logged dives and four specialty programs.[14]
  • Diver Stress & Rescue: special training to recognize and handle with stress, prevent accidents and act correctly in an emergency.[15] Considered equivalent to PADI's Rescue Diver program.[11]
  • Master Diver: the highest recreational rating, automatically awarded after completing four specialties, Diver Stress and Rescue, and 50 logged dives.[14]

Scuba specialty programs[edit]

Below are some of the speciality courses that can be completed as part of the above certifications.

  • Altitude diver - planning, procedures and equipment for diving at altitudes above 300 metres (1,000 ft) with reference to the modified decompression procedures required.[16]
  • Boat diving - boat diving techniques, choosing a travel agency and diving operator and what equipment to take when travelling.[17]
  • Deep diving - planning and conducting recreational dives below 18 metres (59 ft)[17]
  • Underwater photography - introduction to underwater photography, using a digital camera system, composition and editing of underwater photos[17]
  • Diver stress and rescue - how to avoid, recognize and deal with problems on the surface and underwater.[17]
  • Dry suit diving - advantages of dry suit diving, types of suits, valves, underwear and accessories, dry suit diving techniques and suit maintenance[17]
  • EAN Nitrox - planning dives with Nitrox and using Nitrox safely, including analyzing the mix before use.[17]
  • Decompression Diving - planning dives with a stage tank for faster decompression. Allows accumulated Deco time up to 15 minutes.[17]
  • Equipment techniques - choice of diving equipment to suit needs, and how to fit, adjust, maintain and make minor repairs to equipment.[17]
  • Navigation - using a compass and using environmental clues, how to estimate distances, navigate search patterns, find waypoints, and return to the exit point.[17]
  • Night and limited visibility - comparison of night and limited visibility diving, preparing for the dive, and the appropriate equipment and procedures.[17]
  • Perfect buoyancy - understanding the principles of buoyancy control and applying them in the water to reduce diver impact on the environment.[17]
  • Recreational sidemount diving - background, history, benefits and equipment of sidemount diving and how to configure the equipment and manage it in the water.[17]
  • River diving - peculiarities of diving in rivers, identifying and assessing hazards an how to manage river diving equipment.[17]
  • Science of diving - physics, physiology, decompression theory, marine life and diving equipment.[17]
  • Search and recovery - various search patterns using ropes and compasses, planning of search and recovery operations in a team, and the correct handling of lifting bags.[17]
  • Shark ecology - biology, ecology and identification of sharks, and procedures for diving with sharks.[17]
  • Waves, tides and currents - basics concepts of waves, tides and currents, and suitable equipment and procedures for diving in them from the shore and from boats.[17]
  • Wreck diving - how to get information on wrecks, to locate them, to prepare for a wreck dive, use appropriate wreck diving techniques, and identify and avoid hazards while diving on wrecks.[17]

Freediving programs[edit]

  • Try Freediving
  • Basic Freediving
  • Freediving Level 1 & Pool
  • Freediving Level 2
  • Freediving Level 3
  • Freediving Specialty Programs such as:
    • No-Fins Freediving
    • Monofin Freediving
    • Free Immersion
    • Training Tables[18]

Professional diving certifications[edit]

The SSI Training Standards outline the professional qualifications and progression.[11]

  • Dive Guide (Dive leader, ISO 24801-3): prerequisites are certification for the specialities of Navigation, Deep Diving, and Night & Limited Visibility, plus Diver Stress & Rescue and 40 logged dives totaling at least 25 hours. To qualify, requires training, exams, and logging at least 50 open water dives totaling 32 hours.
  • Divemaster: awarded to certified Dive Guides completing the Science of Diving speciality and logging 60 open water dives totaling at least 40 hours.
  • Snorkel Instructor (ISO 13970)
  • Assistant Instructor (Level 1 instructor, ISO 24802-1): prerequisite Divemaster.
  • Open Water Instructor (Level 2 instructor, ISO 24802-2): prerequisite Divemaster. The qualified instructor can teach courses up to the level of Dive Guide.
  • Advanced Open Water Instructor (AOWI = OWI + 4 Specialty Instructor ratings {including Diver Stress and Rescue} + issued 15 certifications at a level higher than Open Water Diver)
  • Divemaster Instructor (DMI = AOWI + Science of Diving Instructor + issued 30 certifications in different programs)
  • Assistant Instructor Trainer (AIT)
  • Master Instructor (MI = AIT + 250 dives + issued 150 certifications in different levels)
  • Instructor Trainer
  • Instructor Certifier

Advanced diving certifications[edit]

Extended Range certifications[edit]

  • XR Nitrox Diver
  • XR Advanced Wreck Diver
  • XR Cavern Diver
  • XR Sidemount Diving
  • XR Gas Blender

Technical Extended Range certifications[edit]

  • XR Extended Range Foundations
  • XR Extended Range / XR Extended Range Limited Trimix
  • XR Technical Extended Range Diver / XT Technical Extended Range Trimix Diver
  • XR Hypoxic Trimix Diver
  • XR Technical Wreck Diver
  • XR Cave Diver
  • XR Full Cave Diver

Professional certifications[edit]

  • XR Nitrox Instructor
  • XR Extended Range Instructor
  • XR Cavern Diving Instructor
  • XR Advanced Wreck Diving Instructor
  • XR Technical Extended Range Instructor
  • XR Hypoxic Trimix Diving Instructor
  • XR Technical Wreck Diving Instructor
  • XR Cave Diving Instructor
  • XR Full Cave Diving Instructor
  • XR Gas Blender Instructor
  • XR Nitrox Instructor Trainer
  • XR Extended Range Instructor Trainer
  • XR Technical Extended Range Instructor Trainer
  • XR Hypoxic Trimix Instructor Trainer
  • XR International Training Director

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History of SSI". Scuba America Historical Foundation. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
  2. ^ "Head 2014 annual accounts" (PDF).
  3. ^ "SSI info". DIVEIN Scuba blog. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
  4. ^ "Scuba Schools International (SSI) is the world's largest professional dive business-based training agency".
  5. ^ "Es gibt so viele Tauchorganisationen. Welche ist die Beste?" (in German). Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  6. ^ "United States Agencies". WRSTC.
  7. ^ "European Agencies". WRSTC. Archived from the original on 17 June 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  8. ^ "Japan Agencies". WRSTC. Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Profit Distributing Members". European Underwater Federation. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  10. ^ "EUF Certified Training Systems/Training Organisations". EUF Certification International. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  11. ^ a b c d e f "SSI Training Standards". Scuba Schools International. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  12. ^ "Get certified". SSI. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Open Water Diver". PADI. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  14. ^ a b c "Continue your diving education". Scuba Schools International. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  15. ^ "Diver Stress & Rescue". Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  16. ^ Staff. "SSI Specialty Course: Altitude Diving". Scuba Schools International. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Staff. "Specialty programs". Scuba Schools International. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  18. ^ Krzywicki, Christian. "Freediving Program". SSI. Retrieved 2016-12-29.

External links[edit]