Which Specialties Make Sense for Me?
by Cris Merz:
One of the many benefits of getting involved in scuba diving is that the options for specializing your interests are enormous. Do you like mountain climbing? Have a thing for archaeology and history? Are you fascinated with marine biology? Or do you just aspire to be the best photographer out there so you can capture unique moments and share them with your friends, family, and social media following?
Once you are Open Water certified you can proceed to explore a wide array of activities that may only be a few steps away. You may already have the answer to the direction you want to go, but if you don’t, here are a few tips to assist you.
Try it all
Try taking the SDI Advanced Adventure course if you want to see what the options are before focusing on one specialty. The Advanced Adventure course will give you an overview of five different SDI specialties. Two of the required specialties are the Deep Diver and Navigation Diver specialties which are the foundation of continuing diver education. The course has a total of 12 different specialties to choose from so you will be able to narrow down your interests. It is a good way to get a sample of the options you have in front of you without committing to just one specialty in its entirety.
SDI Computer Nitrox is probably one of the most popular courses available. As a matter of fact, many divers are now taking this course in conjunction with their SDI Open Water course. One of the reasons why nitrox is a logical step in advancing your education in diving is because you will soon find that extending your bottom time after multiple dives means a lot at the end of the day, along with increased safety margins. Understanding how diving nitrox works is also a good first step into the world of technical diving.
What’s your thing?
Many divers try to parallel their interests with specialties in scuba diving. SDI and most other agencies may have those specialties available that are very close to your current hobbies or interests. If you are fascinated with mountain climbing, hiking, and the breathtaking views these offer, then try looking into the Altitude Diver course and a Dry Suit course.
If you have a love for archaeology or history, you can take a Wreck Diving course and a Deep Diver course, and dive some incredible sunken chapters of history. Explore historic bits and pieces that very few people have access to.
The bottom line is: whether it is photography and learning how to capture magic through the viewfinder, being an SDI Rescue Diver, or understanding the marine and freshwater environments with Marine Eco Systems Awareness, SDI most certainly has something that will interest you.
If you are still not 100% sure and not ready to commit – GO DIVING! Talk to the other divers on the boat and ask them about their experiences. You never know, something as easy as being intrigued by a funny looking rebreather might prompt you to sign up for a TDI Intro to Tech course and the next thing you know, you’ll be a certified tech diver traversing the cave systems in Mexico – probing chambers at 150 ft. Learn more about all the different specialty courses here, and talk to your local dive center about their class schedules to see what is available.
Which specialties have you taken, and what led you to make those decisions? -Let us know in the comments below.