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)

Skin DiverSnorkelerSnorkel Diver
Discover Scuba DiverScuba DiscoveryTRY SCUBA DIVING
Bubble MakerFuture BuddiesScuba Rangers
ReActivate™ – Scuba RefresherInactive Diver / RefresherScuba Skills Update
Not ApplicableShallow Water DiverNot Applicable
Not ApplicableSupervised DiverNot Applicable
Scuba DiverNot ApplicableScuba Diver
Open Water DiverOpen Water Scuba DiverOpen Water Diver
Not ApplicableAdvanced DiverAdvanced Open Water Diver
Rescue DiverRescue DiverDiver Stress & Rescue
Master DiverMaster DiverMaster Diver
Not ApplicableScubility DiverClassified Diver
Advanced Open Water DiverAdvanced Adventure DiverAdvanced Adventurer
Peak Performance BuoyancyAdvanced Buoyancy ControlPerfect Buoyancy
Altitude DiverAltitude DiverAltitude Diving
Aware – Fish IdentificationMarine Ecosystems Awareness DiverNot Applicable
Aware – Coral Reef Conservation DiverMarine Ecosystems Awareness DiverNot Applicable
Boat DiverBoat DiverBoat Diving
Cavern DiverTDI Cavern DiverExtended Range (XR) Cavern Diving
Multilevel DiverComputer DiverNot Applicable
Enriched Air DiverComputer Nitrox DiverEnriched Air Nitrox Diver
Deep DiverDeep DiverDeep Diving
Diver Propulsion Vehicle DiverDiver Propulsion VehicleNot Applicable
Discover RebreatherTDI Rebreather DiscoveryNot Applicable
Drift DiverDrift DiverNot Applicable
Dry Suit DiverDry Suit DiverDry Suit Diving
Equipment SpecialistEquipment SpecialistEquipment Techniques
Not ApplicableFull Face Mask DiverFFM
Ice DiverIce DiverIce Diver
Project AWARE® SpecialistMarine Ecosystems Awareness DiverEcology
Night DiverNight/Limited Visibility DiverNight & Limited Visibility
Not ApplicableResearch DiverNot Applicable
Search and Recovery DiverSearch and Recovery DiverSearch & Recovery
Not ApplicableShore/Beach DiverWaves, Tides, & Current
Sidemount DiverSidemount DiverRecreational Sidemount Diving
Self Reliant DiverSolo DiverIndependent Diver
Rebreather DiverNot ApplicableRebreather Diver
Not ApplicableUW Hunter and CollectorNot Applicable
Underwater NagivatorUW Navigation DiverNavigation
Digital Underwater PhotographyUW PhotographerUnderwater Photography
Underwater VideographerUW VideographerNot Applicable
Not ApplicableVisual Inspection ProceduresNot Applicable
Wreck DiverWreck DiverWreck Diver
Distinctive SpecialtiesUnique SpecialtiesAdditional Specialties
Aware – Shark Conservation DiverShark DiverShark Diver
Invasive Lionfish TrackerLionfish Eradification DiverNot Applicable
Sea Turtle AwarenessTurtle Awareness DiverNot Applicable
Whale Shark AwarenessNot ApplicableNot Applicable
PADI Free DiverNot ApplicableBasic Free Diver
Not ApplicableGoliath Grouper Awareness DiverNot Applicable
Not ApplicableSDI Fill Station OperatorNot Applicable
Not ApplicableHeritage Awareness DiverNot Applicable
Not ApplicableKayak DiverNot Applicable
Not ApplicableManatee Awareness DiverNot Applicable
Not ApplicableRiver DiverRiver 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.

22 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.

        • Don Anderson
          Don Anderson says:

          Are you still in contact with your friends mentioned? Which places abroad turned away the SSI? May not be applicable to me, but just wondering. I’m so new at all this, I’ve not done me research and may have assumed too much.

          • juanma
            juanma says:

            all agencies are international and they accept (or should) the certificates in any shop. Ive done courses and specialities jumping from one to another because location, and any others stuff like that, and there’s 0 issues. The only thing to take in count is when you go professional. If you want to work in a PADI centre, you need to be a PADI instructor. Same for the others. You can pay money to transfer ut is a pain in the ass. But then again ,open water, advanced, specialties… no problem, just show your certificate from whatever agency it was and good to go

        • Mitch
          Mitch says:

          Honestly, if a dive shop or charter turns away an international recognized scuba certification like SSI, then I probably do not want to dive with them in the first place. They have no idea what they’re doing. I have my AOW with PADI and recently obtained my Master Diver with SSI. I am becoming a certified Level 1 freediver with PFI in a few weeks. It’s about the place and the instructors.

      • Victor
        Victor says:

        Lo principal es ser un buzo consciente de tus capacidades y limitaciones, respetar tu vida y el entorno, siempre bucear dentro de los parámetros de seguridad establecidos y sin tomar riesgos ni realizar acciones temerarias como en cualquier deporte o actividad que se haga en la vida. Y no olvidar de respetar los ecosistemas visitados. Eso es independiente a la certificadora que sea de tu preferencia.

  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.

      • juanma
        juanma says:

        That is wrong. A one star diver is equivalent to open water. A 2 star diver is equivalent to Rescue Diver, and the 3 star is something in between because you still need another one to be Guide, the equivalent to DM

  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.

  6. John Harvan
    John Harvan says:

    I started out SSI then took some courses with NAUI. I got certified commercial side with ADCI. now Im doing a Rescue class with SDI. I agree with Eliseo You trust your life with your instructor. and its good to have instructors that challenge to be your best because when it comes to living or dying their is no second best.
    Courses and seminars are offered by DAN as well and well worth the time Stay current Stay safe and live to tell the tale


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