Diving Agencies vs. Organizations:
All You Need to Know About the Diving World
In this post, we’ll be explaining the basic differences and what you should know if you’re thinking about where and who you’d like to dive with.
We also briefly touch on the differences between technical and recreational diving, in case you were confused about that too.
Scuba diving agencies
If you do want more information, we’re linking the official websites for each organization in the next section.
What there is to know about the different scuba organizations
Commercial dive agencies such as PADI and SSI operate on the premise of diving like a business and follow diving standards set by the scuba organization called WRSTC. The WRSTC is designed to allow people to make a living out of scuba diving in the tourism industry, operating more as a business by selling certifications and offering recreational diving all over the world.
As an example, dive agencies such as FFESSM or ANMP (in France) are actually following diving standards set by a scuba organization called CMAS. The kinds of agencies that fall under CMAS standards operate most of the time as nonprofit diving clubs.
So rather than being in the business of selling certifications and specialties, this type of nonprofit organization / club offers opportunities for people to learn and practice scuba diving by joining them (for example, like joining a chess club) for very little money.
This is a different approach to teaching and practicing diving, as the people that run these clubs usually do this in their spare time and do it out of love for scuba diving with no financial gain.
What are the differences in diving standards?
CMAS levels are designed the other way around, where level 1 contains the minimum amount of information you need as a beginner diver. Each level after that will have more information, will be more intense with harder training.
There are also some differences in depth limits for divers between the two organizations.
CMAS allows its divers to go down to a depth of 60 meters while diving on air and allows dive profiles with mandatory decompression stops starting at level 2.
Where around the world will my certification be recognised?
Once you’ve determined where you’ll be doing most of your diving, you can see which agencies are available to you there, whether it’s your hometown or your vacation spot. Maybe there’s only commercial shops, only clubs, or maybe you’ve got both available to you. At least now you know the differences. Not to mention, to get diving insurance you need to be certified by a recognized training agency.
If you’re now asking yourself the question: How do I choose which scuba agency to train with?, we’ve laid that out for you too.
What’s the difference between tech diving and recreational diving?
The main differences between rec and tech divers are depth and decompression limits. Recreational divers can dive all the same sites that technical divers can, but tech divers can go deeper and stay longer, which opens up some more opportunities for exploration. This is because tech divers are certified to use alternate breathing gases and different gear.
Where recreational divers can choose specialities for continuing education such as wreck diving or fish ID, tech divers can become certified to dive sidemount, mixed gas or rebreather, among other options.