There are three main recreational certification agencies - PADI, SSI, and NAUI. Each of these agencies are recognized internationally and an Open Water level certification from one will get you diving at most locations. Please be aware that if you hold a certification from the Yong Men's Christian Association (YMCA) it is still valid even with the program's extinction in December of 2008. The YMCA certification may not however be valid at all dive shops, so it is best to call ahead. The Aquanauts recognize a YMCA certification as a valid certification.
PADI is the world's largest scuba certification agency. As of May 2014, they are also the only agency who's classes are recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education (although our SSI-trained members have had no issue getting MTU to accept their certification for credit). At the present time, The Aquanauts use the PADI system. For more information, see our classes page.
SSI was one of the scuba education pioneers during its earlier years. They were the first agency to introduce the buoyancy compensator, backup regulator, and "checkout dives" as a part of the open water course. As of January 1, 2014 SSI is owned by the scuba manufacturer Mares.
Formed in 1959, NAUI is the oldest of our three recreational certification agencies. It also is the only major certification agency that is strictly non-profit, and is one of the major agencies not a member of the World Recreational Scuba Training Council.
The three agencies all provide excellent classes for recreational divers. The most important factor in finding a dive class is not the agency backing the class, but the instructor teaching the class. The three programs are very similar with the PADI and SSI classes being nearly identical. This makes jumping between agencies for different certifications a nonissue.
We recommend that if you have not been diving withing the past year that you get in the pool with one of our officers for a quick refresher before you move back out into open water.