Understanding SDI / TDI Facility Designations

Facility designations are earned by SDI and TDI retail partners based on specific requirements and service levels. It’s a little complicated so we figured a word of two of explanation was in order! After all, understand the differences between the various types of facility offering diver education from SDI and TDI will tell you exactly what to expect when you walk into a facility to go diving or sign-up for training… especially when you are traveling.

We have facility designations falling into the following general categories: Training Facility; Resort Dive Center; Five Star Resort Center; Dive Center; Five Star Dive Center; 5 Star Instructor Training Center; and 5 Star Professional Development Center.  Within most of those general categories, you will also find SDI, TDI or SDI/TDI sub-categories. In addition, we also have Charter Boat Facilities. The first question we get is usually “Why so many?”

Well part of the explanation is that some facilities opt to teach only sport diving courses, some teach only technical diving courses, and some teach both. Hence designations such as SDI Dive Centre, TDI Dive Center and SDI/TDI Dive Center.

But the main reason behind the various levels is that different businesses specialize in different services and offer different types of training and diver support. One common feature is that every type of facility must  have at least one active instructor (with appropriate accreditation) on staff. Another is that all facilities associate with our agencies must have the appropriate business licenses and permits required under local regulations and laws.

A charter boat facility covers any boat primarily set-up and licensed to carry divers. Charter boats are not associated with a retail dive facility and are independent businesses. Many charter boat facilities can conduct or complete diver training.

A training facility is an educational business that does not focus on retail support or sales of scuba equipment. The classic example is a University or College. Training facilities do not need a store front but must have access to a proper classroom and confined water for training.

A resort dive center is primarily assigned to resorts and hotels that have a dive operation on property. This designation allows SDI and TDI instructors to teach guests courses as well as conduct guided dives. This designation is also awarded to dive operations that are not connected to a single hotel or resort but instead service several of them. Onsite facilities include: classroom and confined water as well as rental equipment — including PDCs (personal dive computers) of course — a storefront display area with established hours of operation, and access to a breathing air compressor fitted with appropriate filtration.

A dive center denotes a facility that is a full-service dive shop with a storefront that is primarily focused on retail sales and training. A dive center must offer scuba divers all the essentials in terms of equipment sales, courses (basic and conEd.), air fills and equipment service and rentals. Dive centers must have all the facilities of the previous types of facilities in addition to being an authorized dealer for at least four major equipment lines and offering factory authorized service for that equipment.

A five star instructor training center is a facility offering ALL the features of a dive center but which is also able to conduct instructor courses. This means that an instructor training center must have on staff at least one Instructor Trainer (IT) or one SDI IT Staff Instructor able to conduct the Instructor Development Course (ITC) portion of an SDI instructor training program. This facility offers all the services of a dive center in addition to running at least one ITC a year.

The top designation for facilities under the SDI/TDI banner is a Five Star SDI/TDI Professional Development Center. These facilities have at least two ITs (or one IT and one IT staff instructor) and so are able to complete a full SDI instructor training program (IDC and IEC (Instructor Evaluation Course)) in-house. This type of facility offers all the services of a dive center in addition to running at least two full instructor programs a year.

We hope that learning a little more about our facility designations is helpful to you. These designations are the same globally, so you can be assured of good service and help enjoying the adventure of diving whenever you see the familiar SDI or TDI facility logos!

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