The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) is the world’s largest recreational diving membership and diver training organization founded in 1966 by John Cronin and Ralph Erickson. Cronin was originally a NAUI instructor who decided to form his own organization with Erickson, and to break diver training down into different courses instead of the single universal course then prevalent.
PADI courses range from entry levels (such as “Scuba Diver” and “Open Water Diver“) to “Master Scuba Diver” and a range of instructor certifications. Under their PADI TecRec brand, PADI also offers various technical diving courses, includingdecompression diving, trimix diving and gas blending. Similarly, PADI’s sister company Emergency First Response Corp provides a range of first aid and CPR programs for lay people, including workplace specific programs in Australia, Canada and the UK.
The PADI system is composed of modules with standardized learning objectives divided into theory and practical skills development. Theory is mainly conveyed by way of self-study using books, computer based training using CD-ROM or online learning. All study options are supplemented with video to help the student diver visualize what they have read. Confirmation of the student diver’s level of mastery in standardized knowledge review sessions is carried out by a scuba instructor. Practical skills mastery is obtained through confined water training (pools or relatively shallow water) and performance evaluations in open water. Upon completion of each course, a certification is issued to the student.
PADI courses are performance based dive programs, and at the introductory level emphasize practical knowledge, safety and motor skills. The foundations of diving physics, physiology and chemistry are built during entry level programs. The more esoteric details of these concepts are left for later courses when the diver has gained practical knowledge and experience beyond the entry level. These practices fall within current modern learning philosophies and receive regular updates via peer review.