Scuba Schools International
|Headquarters||Fort Collins, Colorado, United States|
Scuba Schools International (SSI) is an organization that teaches the skills involved in scuba diving and freediving, and supports dive businesses and resorts. SSI has over 2,500 authorized dealers, 35 regional centers, and offices all over the world.
SSI was founded by Robert Clark in 1970. SSI headquarters are in Fort Collins, Colorado, and it is owned by Concept Systems International, Inc. In 2008, it was acquired by Doug McNeese (owner of NASDS (USA) until the merger with SSI in 1999) and Robert Stoss (manager of Scubapro and Seemann Sub). On January 1, 2014, SSI was acquired by MARES, a diving equipment brand in turn owned by HEAD NV, for €4.9m.
SSI offers internationally recognized recreational diver training programs - starting with snorkeling and entry level scuba diving courses up to instructor certifications. The most common programs are: SSI Open Water Diver (OWD) and Advanced Open Water Diver (AOWD). There are more than 30 different specialty courses. Dive leader training programs start with the Dive Control Specialist (who is qualified like Assistant Instructor) followed by Open Water Instructor and above. SSI's training program for children aged 8–12 years is called Scuba Rangers. The training program for technical divers is called TechXR (Technical Extended Range) and includes decompression diving, trimix and other courses that exceed the limit for recreational divers.
SSI scuba certifications are recognized throughout the world (such as RSTC - Recreational Scuba Training Council, EUF - European Underwater Federation, CUA - China Underwater Association and others).
SSI is a member of the following councils of the World Recreational Scuba Training Council - the United States RSTC, the RSTC Europe and C-Card Council (Japan). It is also a member of the European Underwater Federation. SSI obtained CEN certification from the EUF certification body in 2005. It received ISO certification on June 1, 2010.
Programs, certification and progression
The SSI Training Standards outline the offered programs, their prerequisites and certification progression.
- Try Scuba
Entry-level scuba diving certification
In addition to the industry standard Open Water Diver (including Junior Open Water Diver for under 15s) qualification, SSI offers the following (which can be upgraded to Open Water certification with some additional training).
- Basic Diver (ISO 11121)
- Referral Diver
- Indoor Diver
- Scuba Diver (ISO 24801-1) (including Junior Scuba Diver for under 15s)
Progression beyond Open Water
After Open Water certification, progression mainly depends on completing Scuba Specialty Programs and logging certain numbers of dives.
- Advance Adventurer: a program of five adventure dives and an introduction to the theory of 12 specialties. Considered equivalent to PADI's Advanced Open Water certificate.
- Specialty Diver: automatically awarded upon completion of 12 logged dives and two specialty programs.
- Advanced Open Water Diver: automatically awarded upon completion of 24 logged dives and four specialty programs.
- Diver Stress & Rescue: special training to recognize and handle with stress, prevent accidents and act correctly in an emergency. Considered equivalent to PADI's Rescue Diver program.
- Master Diver: the highest recreational rating, automatically awarded after completing four specialties, Diver Stress and Rescue, and 50 logged dives.
Scuba specialty programs
Below are some of the speciality courses that can be completed as part of the above certifications.
- Altitude diver - planning, procedures and equipment for diving at altitudes above 300 metres (1,000 ft) with reference to the modified decompression procedures required.
- Boat diving - boat diving techniques, choosing a travel agency and diving operator and what equipment to take when travelling.
- Deep diving - planning and conducting recreational dives below 18 metres (59 ft)
- Underwater photography - introduction to underwater photography, using a digital camera system, composition and editing of underwater photos
- Diver stress and rescue - how to avoid, recognize and deal with problems on the surface and underwater.
- Dry suit diving - advantages of dry suit diving, types of suits, valves, underwear and accessories, dry suit diving techniques and suit maintenance
- EAN Nitrox - planning dives with Nitrox and using Nitrox safely, including analyzing the mix before use.
- Equipment techniques - choice of diving equipment to suit needs, and how to fit, adjust, maintain and make minor repairs to equipment.
- Navigation - using a compass and using environmental clues, how to estimate distances, navigate search patterns, find waypoints, and return to the exit point.
- Night and limited visibility - comparison of night and limited visibility diving, preparing for the dive, and the appropriate equipment and procedures.
- Perfect buoyancy - understanding the principles of buoyancy control and applying them in the water to reduce diver impact on the environment.
- Recreational sidemount diving - background, history, benefits and equipment of sidemount diving and how to configure the equipment and manage it in the water.
- River diving - peculiarities of diving in rivers, identifying and assessing hazards an how to manage river diving equipment.
- Science of diving - physics, physiology, decompression theory, marine life and diving equipment.
- Search and recovery - various search patterns using ropes and compasses, planning of search and recovery operations in a team, and the correct handling of lifting bags.
- Shark ecology - biology, ecology and identification of sharks, and procedures for diving with sharks.
- Waves, tides and currents - basics concepts of waves, tides and currents, and suitable equipment and procedures for diving in them from the shore and from boats.
- Wreck diving - how to get information on wrecks, to locate them, to prepare for a wreck dive, use appropriate wreck diving techniques, and identify and avoid hazards while diving on wrecks.
- Try Freediving
- Basic Freediving
- Freediving Level 1 & Pool
- Freediving Level 2
- Freediving Level 3
- Freediving Specialty Programs such as:
- No-Fins Freediving
- Monofin Freediving
- Free Immersion
- Training Tables
Professional diving certifications
The SSI Training Standards outline the professional qualifications and progression.
- Dive Guide (Dive leader, ISO 24801-3): prerequisites are certification for the specialities of Navigation, Deep Diving, and Night & Limited Visibility, plus Diver Stress & Rescue and 40 logged dives totaling at least 25 hours. To qualify, requires training, exams, and logging at least 50 open water dives totaling 32 hours.
- Divemaster: awarded to certified Dive Guides completing the Science of Diving speciality and logging 60 open water dives totaling at least 40 hours.
- Assistant Instructor (Level 1 instructor, ISO 24802-1): prerequisite Divemaster.
- Instructor (Level 2 instructor, ISO 24802-2): prerequisite Divemaster. The qualified instructor can teach courses up to the level of Dive Guide.
- Snorkel Instructor
- Advanced Open Water Instructor (AOWI = OWI + 4 specialties)
- Divemaster Instructor (DMI = AOWI + online exam)
- Master Instructor
- Instructor Trainer
- Instructor Certifier
Advanced diving certifications
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Extended Range certifications
- XR Nitrox Diver
- XR Advanced Wreck Diver
- XR Cavern Diver
- XR Sidemount Diving
- XR Gas Blender
Technical Extended Range certifications
- XR Extended Range Foundations
- XR Extended Range / XR Extended Range Limited Trimix
- XR Technical Extended Range Diver / XT Technical Extended Range Trimix Diver
- XR Hypoxic Trimix Diver
- XR Technical Wreck Diver
- XR Cave Diver
- XR Full Cave Diver
- XR Nitrox Instructor
- XR Extended Range Instructor
- XR Cavern Diving Instructor
- XR Advanced Wreck Diving Instructor
- XR Technical Extended Range Instructor
- XR Hypoxic Trimix Diving Instructor
- XR Technical Wreck Diving Instructor
- XR Cave Diving Instructor
- XR Full Cave Diving Instructor
- XR Gas Blender Instructor
- XR Nitrox Instructor Trainer
- XR Extended Range Instructor Trainer
- XR Technical Extended Range Instructor Trainer
- XR Hypoxic Trimix Instructor Trainer
- XR International Training Director
- List of diver certification organizations – Agencies which issue certification for competence in diving skills
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