sdi specialties

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.

Mixed Gas

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.

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4 replies
  1. Zora Venerová
    Zora Venerová says:

    My opinion is that every diver should take some elementary skill courses after OWD licence. For example Advanced Buoyancy Control course is really helpful in all ways of diving – it’s a skill needed for UW photography, dry suit diving (who would like to be pulled up by boots?) and even for night/low visibility diving. All is much more easier and safier with it. I have my own experience with bad buoyancy when I wanted to spare a little bit of air and swim deeper instead of deflating BCD and caught a spasm. That caused uncontrolled ascent. Fortunately I remembered my training and it also was “only” from 10 meter / 33 feet. Anyway the full story is here That’s why I have chosen it for one of my AAD specialities. There are other that I take as useful courses such as first aid, drift diver (none never knows), computer diver (the more I know about diving with more safier) or knowing how to deploy a buoy. These are things I think everyone should know. Then there are environment specified certification that are handy in different places all ove the world. I think that in sea a dry suit isn’t for a recreational diver necessary but in fresh waters it makes a difference. UW photografy is an amazing thing but “isn’t thing of survival.” I am maybe too much keen on safety but with better knowledge of safety diving I feel more comfortable on my dives and enjoy them even more! That’s why I choose “skill” courses first and the “funny” (UW photo, Marine Awarness) later. So that’s what I think 🙂

  2. Tony Sinpson
    Tony Sinpson says:

    As for the courses that I would recommend as a Dive Master / Dive Control Specialist, They are the ones that will really help to make better divers out of them: Navigation, Deep Diving, Stress and Rescue, Nitrox, Limited Visibility. Others may say buoyancy class. I say this is an essential basic skill like mask clearing or regulator recovery. First a student should not pass certification without good buoyancy control understanding and demonstration. If a student gets thru a scuba class and don’t have good concept of buoyancy the instructor has failed. But many instructors do just that to make that extra dollar to offer students an advanced buoyancy class. Where in reality, we should pay the students money back, for not teaching and training them as they should have been in their first class.


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