Types of Scuba Certification Cards

Types of Scuba Certification Cards
Scuba certification cards are essential for people who intend to perform any kind of scuba diving. A certification card allows scuba divers to rent diving equipment, participate in organized dives and to dive on their own. A certification card is validation that the person completed a scuba diving certification course and has enough knowledge of scuba diving theory and skill in real-life diving settings to engage in scuba diving.

Open Water Diver

Open Water Diver (OWD) is the first level of scuba certification for divers. The Open Water Diver course requires a knowledge of diving theory, practical training, such as confined water or pool dives, and open water dives. The course teaches how to use the basic scuba equipment, as well as a dive computer. Students learn emergency and first-aid skills. Upon completion of the course, students can typically dive on their own up to a depth of 60 feet.

Advanced Open Water Diver

The Advanced Open Water Diver (AOWD) certification builds upon the skills taught in the Open Water Diver course. The Advanced Open Water Diver course requires elective topics, such as search and recovery and drift diving. Students learn the theories of underwater navigation, buoyancy control, enriched air diving, night diving, multilevel diving, marine biology and altitude diving. Students must perform two training dives that involve underwater navigation and deep diving. Upon completion of the course, students can typically dive on their own up to a depth of 100 feet.

Rescue Diving

The Rescue Diving certification prepares students for dive accidents, self-rescue, egress, in-water rescue breathing, diver stress and panicked diver responses. Students learn about more advanced emergency equipment, as well as advanced techniques for emergency management.


Divemaster is a mandatory certification for divers who intend to become recreational diving instructors. Certification training involves overseeing scuba review programs for certified divers, organizing recreational diving activities and supervising training-related diving activities with instructors. Students learn leadership skills in the classroom setting and perform water skill exercises in-field to build stamina. The Divemaster course is either a series of in-field training exercises or a structured internship. Only divers with certifications as Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver and Rescue Diver can train for Divemaster certification.

Master Scuba Diver

Master Scuba Diver is the highest level of certification for recreational diving. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) bestows the rank of Master Scuba Diver onto divers who complete the Advanced Open Water and Rescue Diver courses, log at least 50 dives and complete five specialty diving courses. Scuba Schools International (SSI) requires at least 50 dives, the completion of four specialty diving courses and in-field demonstration of diver stress and rescue techniques. Scuba Diving International (SDI) requires at least 50 dives and completion of both the Advanced Open Water Diver course and the Rescue Diver course. The National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) requires divers to complete classroom training, including five elective specialties. Divers must also demonstrate in-field knowledge of emergency procedures, deep decompression diving, search and recovery including light salvage, night diving or limited visibility diving, and underwater navigation.

Article Written By Chris Passas

Chris Passas is a freelance writer from Nags Head, N.C. He graduated from East Carolina University in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He has written online instructional articles since September 2009.

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