Scuba diver course chart comparison with SDI, SSI and PADI - Equivalency

Recreational Sport Diver Equivalences from Dive Training Agencies, PADI, SSI and SDI

by Lauren Kieren:

Have you ever found yourself wondering if an SDI course is equal (or equivalent) to courses offered by other dive training organizations?

Maybe you were asked to show verification of an “advanced diver” rating but you are unsure if your certification matches what the dive center is looking for.

If these situations sound familiar, this blog post is for you!

While each dive training organization strives to produce great divers, sometimes we use different terminology to say the same thing.  Understanding equivalent ratings will allow you to see where your certification lines up with other organizations.  In addition, it will allow you to know if you meet the prerequisites for a course if you hold a certification with one dive training organization then take a subsequent course with another.

Recently, we have received an influx of calls and e-mails requesting confirmation on equivalent ratings offered by multiple organizations.  As a result, we put together an equivalency table of ratings offered by three agencies listed within the WRSTC: SDI (Scuba Diving International), SSI (Scuba Schools International), and PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors).

At the top of the chart you will find each dive training organization, and the certifications for that organization below it.  You can quickly cross-reference a rating between dive training organizations; in the event a certification listed is not equivalent to the other organizations, the field will simply list “not applicable.”

Compare Diver Courses with this Equivalency Chart (PADI, SDI, SSI)

padi sdi ssi
Skin Diver Snorkeler Snorkel Diver
Discover Scuba Diver Scuba Discovery TRY SCUBA DIVING
Bubble Maker Future Buddies Scuba Rangers
ReActivate™ – Scuba Refresher Inactive Diver / Refresher Scuba Skills Update
Not Applicable Shallow Water Diver Not Applicable
Not Applicable Supervised Diver Not Applicable
Scuba Diver Not Applicable Scuba Diver
Open Water Diver Open Water Scuba Diver Open Water Diver
Not Applicable Advanced Diver Advanced Open Water Diver
Rescue Diver Rescue Diver Diver Stress & Rescue
Master Diver Master Diver Master Diver
Not Applicable Scubility Diver Classified Diver
Advanced Open Water Diver Advanced Adventure Diver Advanced Adventurer
Peak Performance Buoyancy Advanced Buoyancy Control Perfect Buoyancy
Altitude Diver Altitude Diver Altitude Diving
Aware – Fish Identification Marine Ecosystems Awareness Diver Not Applicable
Aware – Coral Reef Conservation Diver Marine Ecosystems Awareness Diver Not Applicable
Boat Diver Boat Diver Boat Diving
Cavern Diver TDI Cavern Diver Extended Range (XR) Cavern Diving
Multilevel Diver Computer Diver Not Applicable
Enriched Air Diver Computer Nitrox Diver Enriched Air Nitrox Diver
Deep Diver Deep Diver Deep Diving
Diver Propulsion Vehicle Diver Diver Propulsion Vehicle Not Applicable
Discover Rebreather TDI Rebreather Discovery Not Applicable
Drift Diver Drift Diver Not Applicable
Dry Suit Diver Dry Suit Diver Dry Suit Diving
Equipment Specialist Equipment Specialist Equipment Techniques
Not Applicable Full Face Mask Diver FFM
Ice Diver Ice Diver Ice Diver
Project AWARE® Specialist Marine Ecosystems Awareness Diver Ecology
Night Diver Night/Limited Visibility Diver Night & Limited Visibility
Not Applicable Research Diver Not Applicable
Search and Recovery Diver Search and Recovery Diver Search & Recovery
Not Applicable Shore/Beach Diver Waves, Tides, & Current
Sidemount Diver Sidemount Diver Recreational Sidemount Diving
Self Reliant Diver Solo Diver Independent Diver
Rebreather Diver Not Applicable Rebreather Diver
Not Applicable UW Hunter and Collector Not Applicable
Underwater Nagivator UW Navigation Diver Navigation
Digital Underwater Photography UW Photographer Underwater Photography
Underwater Videographer UW Videographer Not Applicable
Not Applicable Visual Inspection Procedures Not Applicable
Wreck Diver Wreck Diver Wreck Diver
Distinctive Specialties Unique Specialties Additional Specialties
Aware – Shark Conservation Diver Shark Diver Shark Diver
Invasive Lionfish Tracker Lionfish Eradification Diver Not Applicable
Sea Turtle Awareness Turtle Awareness Diver Not Applicable
Whale Shark Awareness Not Applicable Not Applicable
PADI Free Diver Not Applicable Basic Free Diver
Not Applicable Goliath Grouper Awareness Diver Not Applicable
Not Applicable SDI Fill Station Operator Not Applicable
Not Applicable Heritage Awareness Diver Not Applicable
Not Applicable Kayak Diver Not Applicable
Not Applicable Manatee Awareness Diver Not Applicable
Not Applicable River Diver River Diver

It is recommended to all SDI, TDI, and ERDI instructors that they verify new students can demonstrate skills required in previous courses.  As a result, if you are enrolling in an SDI, TDI, or ERDI course and coming from another organization you may be required to do a check-out dive with your instructor to verify that your skills and knowledgebase line up appropriately for the course, prior to commencement of training.  We also recommend divers take a refresher course after a period of not diving, this period, while not a hard and fast rule, is about a year. This simply means that even though you hold a certification it is always a good idea to go on a dive with a professional and refresh your knowledge and skills.

All information is current at the time of publication.  Over time, as organizations update their standards and create new courses, the information in this table may become outdated and is subject to change without any given notice.  With that said, please do not copy or take screen captures of this table, as it may not be accurate in the future.

Regardless of the dive training organization you choose, we hope you have a wonderful dive experience and continue advancing your dive education in the future.

For a list of courses offered by SDI, including their Standards, click here!  Also, if you are looking for your nearest SDI Dive Center, check out the SDI Dive Center Locater.

If you do not see your dive training organization on this list and you are curious if it’s equivalent to an SDI, TDI, or ERDI rating, let us know!  Simply write a message to the training department ( and we will be happy to help.

Are you a professional Diver?

See our Accepted Professional Crossovers here!

Should you have any questions, feel free to ask us below.

17 replies

    The course equivalent chart is clear. I think the huge quetion here is “wich of these training oganization is the best and why?”

    Thank you!

    • Eliseo E Rodriguez
      Eliseo E Rodriguez says:

      While each agency will tout their strengths, the most important thing to consider when undertaking any type of SUBA training be it a Discover Dive or Tech training, is the individual instructor. The trust you place in that individual is nothing less than your life. I personally hold certifications with NAUI, SSI, PADI and HSA. Each one was taken with an instructor that met my individual needs (as I try to do with my students).

      Eliseo E Rodriguez
      PADI Master Instructor
      HSA Course Director
      E Rod Scuba Diving
      Patriot Scuba

      • Brian
        Brian says:

        This is not exactly accurate. One of the most important strengths to consider when selecting a course is its availability both local and abroad. I have a PADI certification but have had friends turned away abroad because they had SSI and it wasn’t accepted. I am currently looking to get my girlfriend certified but concerned about the same thing happening with SDI if we travel overseas and they don’t recognize this certification.

  2. Mark Milburn
    Mark Milburn says:

    I have had long discussions with PADI Instructors, who have then talked with PADI, the self reliant is not a Solo diver course. I have yet to discuss this with SSI but they will probably say the same.

    • Cris
      Cris says:

      Thank you, Mark. You are correct, the Solo and Self-reliant may not be an exact equivalent but when the Self Reliant program was created, it was created with the Solo Diver Program in mind. You are always going to find differences in all the courses above and that is what makes them unique. Every training agency has had the opportunity to make each course their own on some way or another.

    • Peter
      Peter says:

      The PADI self reliant diver course is basically a carbon copy of SDO solo course, so I beg the differ. The difference is that PADI does 1 dive more. But the course is the same.

  3. Wayne Chen
    Wayne Chen says:

    Recently I had a discussion about the AOW(Advanced Scuba Diver) of NAUI with a SSI instructor. He said that the NAUI AOW seems like the SSI AA. So I would like to know your opinion about NAUI AOW compared with other system (PADI/SDI/SSI)?

    Thank you!

      SDI/TDI/ERDI says:

      Hello Lauren, thanks for your comment. A CMAS ** (2 star) diver is basically equivalent to our SDI Open Water Scuba Diver. A CMAS *** (3 star) diver would be equivalent to an SDI Deep Diver. Beyond that, we don’t really have any direct equivalencies due to the nature of the CMAS system. Hope that helps.

  4. Patrick
    Patrick says:

    Hi there. My 13yo son is a padi jr. rescuediver with nearly 100 dives and two extra specialties. His goal is to become a jr. master scubadiver this winter or next year but the dive center we dive with has gone from padi & ssi to only ssi. Will padi still accept the remaining 3 specialties for his master scubadiver certificate when they’re done with ssi? Thanks Pat

    • Rick Westlake
      Rick Westlake says:

      I asked a parallel question at the PADI shop where I’ve done my most recent specialty training (Wreck Diver & Deep Diver); in my case, it was whether my SDI Nitrox specialty would count toward Master Diver. The shop owner’s answer was no, they have to be done with PADI.

      The PADI web-page on Master Scuba Diver seems to confirm this, and I quote: “The path starts with earning a PADI Open Water Diver certification, followed by PADI Advanced Open Water Diver and PADI Rescue Diver (or qualifying certifications). You also need to earn five PADI Specialty Diver certifications and have logged a minimum of 50 dives.”

  5. Paulo Souza
    Paulo Souza says:

    Hi, i´m considering a crossover do SDI/TDI, actually to offer one more options to my students, but not sure what´is the equivalences. I’m a BSAC Advanced Instructor, wich decompression procedures, advanced nitrox SDC´s. How do it works wich you guys?

    • Brittany Bozik
      Brittany Bozik says:

      We are excited to hear of your interest in crossing over! You can view some information about crossovers here: and see if your agency is listed as an accepted agency for an administrative crossover to SDI Open Water Scuba Diver Instructor. On the technical level, there may be additional requirements for crossing over based on your agency’s equivalency with TDI. Please send a message to for any additional information.


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