Why SSI? Quick overview of benefits
For more than 40 years, SSI has provided training, scuba diving certification, and educational resources for divers, dive instructors, dive centers and resorts around the world. Started in 1970, SSI has expanded to include more than 30 Service Centers, is represented in more than 110 countries with over 2.600 International locations, and has materials printed in more than 30 languages.
Since June 1, 2010, Scuba Schools International is one of the few training agencies worldwide who qualified for a Global ISO Certification. In addition to that, SSI is a founding member of the RSTC (Recreational Scuba Training Council), this guarantees that SSI certifications meet and exceed all industry standards and are recognized globally.
Platinum Instructor Trainer Sacha Bernasconi has been learning and teaching with several major dive training organizations. He wrote this page to give a clear overview of his favourite benefits that SSI offers over others. For more general information about Scuba Schools International, please visit the agency official page at www.divessi.com
Up-to-date books with extended information about the subject. The Open Water Diver Manual covers much more information and details about diving science and environment.
Home Study kits come with an Interactive DVD, recent high quality videos with the option of answering interactive questions at the end of each chapter. No computer is required, only a simple DVD player connected to a TV.
All training materials come at extremely good value for the quality and information they provide.
Online Training for the Open Water Course is provided free of charge! Dive enthusiast can start learning more about this sport without having to invest anything until they decide to start the actual dives. While more online courses will be added to the curriculum, they will probably not all be offered for free, but I am confident it will not be as overpriced as other available options.
Certification agencies earn their money from training materials and certifications. While some agencies only focus on having a diver sign-up to as many consequent courses as possible, SSI places a higher emphasis on experience. All SSI levels require in addition to training a certain amount of experience (total dives) to be achieved. Even experienced divers and instructors will regularly be rewarded for their actual experience.
As dive professionals, we have to deal constantly with "Advanced Divers": they hold an Advanced Open Water certification which in many cases can be achieved right after open water certification with as little as 9 logged dives. The biggest problem is that this status builds overconfidence in beginners who only spent 1 week of their lives diving. Their skills and knowledge may be good right after the course, but it is quickly forgotten if not diving for a while. Also, there is no replacement for actual experience, especially whenever a problem should arise underwater!
To fulfil the request for these courses SSI offers the equivalent "Advanced Adventurer", it is however clearly distinct from the SSI Advanced Open Water which requires 4 specialty diver ratings with proof of at least 24 logged dives, what we could confidently say is a real Advanced Diver!
SSI gives the Instructor a lot of freedom when teaching with the 80/20 rule. 80% of the course should be followed exactly as planned, 20% is flexible and could be rescheduled by the instructor. This doesn't mean that the instructor is not required to follow 100% of the requirements: the instructor will complete 100% but has the power to adapt the course to better suit the learning needs of the class.
Should a diver have a problem with a particular skill, he can continue doing the rest, calming the person and building confidence to then work on that particular skill at the end of the session. If the underwater or surface conditions are not apt on a certain day to do a certain skill, this can be postponed.
An instructor is also welcome to teach more knowledge or skills during a course if he believes the student will benefit from it. SSI Standards are the minimum requirements and an Instructor is welcome to exceed them as long as the student is comfortable and interested in learning more. While this flexibility is common practice with most experienced instructors across all agencies, in some they are actually Training Standards Violations.
"Comfort Through Repetition" is the signature method of repeating learned skills during the course. The idea is that if certain skills can become a second nature, the diver will be able to perform them under any circumstance.
Training is as close to real life as possible, all skills must work with any equipment configuration and in difficult conditions. Great example for this is the preferred method of providing air to a buddy by giving the primary air source. In an emergency situation stress can lead to death, being trained to give/receive the primary air source works with any recreational and even technical equipment configuration. In addition to safety this also gives the opportunity to student and instructor to train with the preferred equipment configuration day 1.
SSI requires practicing a Buoyant Emergency Swimming Ascent, the last available surviving option when a diver should find himself at depth, without any air left and no one available to help. While we all agree that no one should ever find himself in this situation by following the most basic rules of scuba diving, while training materials discuss this option SSI requires to actually practice it from shallow depth: this shows very clearly what the consequences of such an action can be and why it should be performed only as a "last resort".
There is often a misconception from other instructors stating that SSI prefers this method over safer ascents, this is ridiculous since all other options are thought and practiced several times.
When practicing the more common Emergency Swimming Ascent, student divers are required to immediately remove their weights upon surfacing, before continuing to inflate their BCD. In several occasions, divers surfaced from an accident only to sink again and disappear because they didn't remove their weights. The benefit is clear over requiring to either drop weights OR simply inflate the BCD.
Instructor - Dive Centre Relationship
SSI Instructors can only work through an authorized SSI Dive Center. This is the only way of providing the best quality service course to a student, with all the needed facilities and equipment and independent can't provide.
This however doesn't mean that Instructors are not able to work as freelance or teach diving independently. Each independent instructor needs support at least for tanks and air fills, why not affiliate to that shop to provide a full service? If the independent instructor really owns all needed equipment, tanks and compressor, why not comply with all requirements and open a dive centre?
Instructor Training Course
Having crossed over to SSI from another agency, I was extremely impressed when I started looking into their Instructor Training Course materials. There was nothing new for me, but I learned all these things during years of experience working around the world... when I could have known it all from the beginning!
All dive professional courses have extremely high standards and require higher commitment from the candidates. Swimming tests are required each time a professional moves to the next rating. The passing score for all theory exams is 90% and practical presentations are assigned only a few minutes before the examination. This will definitely make you work harder during your ITC, but it will give you a better preparation for real life teaching and the satisfaction of having excelled at your job! Still wondering why Dive Centers worldwide prefer hiring SSI Trained Instructors?
SSI Online Diver’s Network is one single web platform for everyone: Divers, Professional and Dive Centers. All applications are organized and integrated within the same system, permissions restrict what can be seen depending on the status. If a diver registers for online training, his informations will be already in the system for certification. All Manuals for courses an Instructor is allowed to teach, are available for direct download. This is a huge bonus, since most instructors like to move and teach around the world and can't afford to carry too much weight.
Dive Instructors from all agencies are required to have current training in CPR and First Aid. Since administering Oxygen is the best help a diver could get during most diving related injuries, SSI requires all their professionals to have an current certification as Oxygen Providers. It is also a requirement already for Stress & Rescue Specialty as there is no way one could conduct an efficient Rescue without knowing how to provide Oxygen.
Respond Right Apply Advanced First Aid course, is a 2 day training (twice the usual duration) covering all subjects into detail. First Aid, CPR, Automated External Defibrillator and Oxygen Provider are all covered in the same book and included in one single certification card/fee.
Before moving to Respond Right I was an active teacher with the most popular diving first aid certification agency. When I went working in Australia where rules and regulations are strict, not only I was not allowed to teach this course, I was required to attend a first aid course again...as a student! Respond Right certifications are officially recognized by the Australian Government and accepted for work purposes
There are many more benefits about the SSI teaching system, I just listed some of the more important and that are relevant to everyone (students, instructors and centres). If you have questions or would like a clarification, feel free to contact me