PADI Vs. SSI? Up in the air?

When you do a dive course, you have a choice to do that with different dive organizations. These organizations have developed their own teaching materials, standards and certifications which their instructors use to conduct the courses. There are quite a few organizations in the world and they all have different philosophies and standards. In general, the differences are not too big and no matter which organization you take a course with, you will use the same kind of equipment and see the same marine life under water.


Truly, the quality of the courses strongly depends on the experience and attitude of your dive instructor and the dive school you train with – no matter what organization you should choose to certify with. Here at Wicked Diving, we are able to offer you courses with the two biggest Dive Organizations in the world; SSI (Scuba Schools International) and PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors)

In terms of diver training there is very little difference between SSI and PADI. They both follow the diving standards set by the Governing body – WRSTC (World Recreational Scuba Training Council) meaning that knowledge and skill requirements are almost the same. Certifications are interchangeable.

Here at Wicked Diving, we offer both certifications on our Liveaboards, as these courses integrate right into the trips and make for happy and safe students.

The differences between these two are quite small but at the end of the day, they both offer good and safe courses and produce proper and capable divers. Both organizations have been around for years and they have very high quality teaching materials and high standards. The biggest difference is the marketing departments.

With a such great diversity in dive sites and varying under water conditions, we must have a certain flexibility to provide you – our guest – with the highest possible training and safety standards.

If you want to learn to dive with us, you can do your theory FOR FREE online with SSI. That means you can study at home and safe time for when you are enjoying your holiday with us in Khao Lak.

SSI also empowers our instructors to add information and/or skills if that improves the quality of the course. That doesn’t mean the instructor can do just anything, but we do like to give a student as much value as possible and make sure you get a quality course in which all aspects of that course and more are covered. Are you curious about turtles? We are able to spend some extra time talking about how the Similan Islands are home to 5 different species of Turtles, and possibly stop by the government run turtle hatchery!

With SSI we are able to process your certification card locally, so in most instances, you will receive your original certification card right at the end of your course and we don’t need to give you a “temporary” card. This means you will be registered straight away and you don’t need to wait for your original card to be sent home. No waiting months for your certification cards, when you complete the course – you are certified! With your card you may now dive anywhere else your travels take you!

With SSI you can choose to either borrow or purchase your manuals. In other words, you don’t have to buy the materials, if you want to use ours during the course and give it back at the end of it, that’s great!

PADI requires that you purchase the materials – no matter if you are traveling around the world or learning at home.

Wicked Diving offers professional level courses: if you would like to switch from PADI to SSI – we offer an Instructor Crossover course several times a year

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Are the certification cards of PADI and SSI recognized all over the world?
A: Yes, it doesn’t matter with which organization you have learned to dive. So if a PADI Open Water diver for example wants to dive with an SSI Dive center, that’s perfectly fine. This counts certification cards of all dive organizations.

Q: I have done my Open Water Diver course with PADI, can I do my Advanced Course with SSI or the other way around?
A: Yes, you can cross between PADI and SSI as much as you like for the recreational dive levels. Their levels are quite similar and certification of another dive organization is totally accepted. As noted all standards are set forth by the RSTC (Recreational Scuba Training Council).

Q: If I forgot to bring my certification card with me, will I still be able to dive?
A: Both PADI and SSI have an online system and since we are affiliated with both PADI and SSI, we will be able to look you up. If a dive center is not affiliated with the organization you have done your course with, they can contact them to see if you are in the system. A signed logbook also helps.

Q: If I forgot to bring my certification card with me and I don’t show up in the system, will I still be able to dive?
A: No, we, at Wicked Diving, need to see proof of certification before we take you on a dive, regardless of training agency or experience level.

Q: I want to do the PADI Open Water course with my family. Does everyone need to buy their own manual?
A: When doing PADI Courses – Yes, every student needs to purchase their own manual. Again, SSI does not require this – you are welcome to purchase one manual, or 20 – up to you.