I always say that you can compare PADI with other companies like Subway, Starbucks or Apple. Like PADI these companies focus on high quality products and services that are consistent all over the world. These standards ensure the same quality, happy customers and most importantly, with PADI, the main focus is always safety.
Having worldwide consistent standards works very well unless they are not followed and sadly enough, some Diving Instructors deviate from PADI standards. This causes many problems and jeopardises safety. In this article I will explain the different reasons why Diving Instructors should follow PADI Standards and what happens when diving instructors deviate from them.
PADI Standards creates worldwide consistency
“PADI – The Way The World Learns To Dive” is PADI’s world famous slogan. I believe that it is the perfect description of what made PADI so successful. PADI is the leading dive-training organisation in the world and has been responsible for educating millions of scuba divers worldwide.
Every person is different. Some are athletic, some have lower levels of fitness and some people are smart and some less so. Every country has different cultures and beliefs, some people are religious and some aren’t, some people are rich and others earn less. PADI has created an educational system that can be taught to anyone around the world regardless of our differences, and this makes the phrase “How the world to learns how to dive” truly meaningful.
PADI created “PADI Standards” that every PADI Divemaster and Diving Instructor has to follow. These PADI Standards are now accepted and approved in more then 180 countries worldwide. This means for example that if a student takes the PADI Open Water Diver course in one country she can then join the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course in another country. The PADI Dive Shop in the second country now only needs to see the person’s Open Water Diver course card as proof that the student has met all the PADI performance requirements according to PADI Standards.
This is one of the main reasons that it is so important for Diving Instructors to follow PADI Standards and not deviate from them. For example let’s say that the PADI Diving Instructor in in the first country only did around 10 skills in the pool and only half of the open water dive skills – just to save time. Then in that case, the student will probably not know any better and also get certified to Scuba Dive world wide whilst lacking some really important skills. If that person now joins on a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course in the second country within a short amount of time – let’s say 3 months – the PADI Instructor in the second country will accept the student in the Advanced course instantly as her PADI Open Water Diver certification card proves that all performance requirements have been met in the first country according to PADI standards. Now the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course might be harder to complete or even become dangerous.
If PADI Diving Instructors follow PADI standards then the system works and you get the same high quality PADI course worldwide that is focused on safety and enjoyment. It is so time consuming and annoying to reteach students just because their previous Instructor did not follow PADI standards. Trust me you don’t want to get that reputation as a Diving Instructor or Dive Centre.
Following PADI Standards increases overall dive safety
By far the most important reason why Diving Instructors should follow PADI Standards is diver safety. I know that some Diving Instructors don’t always agree with some of the PADI Standards and especially some skills or pieces of dive equipment, but don’t forget that PADI has been around a long time and they have very good reasons why they create all the different PADI Standards.
To give an extreme example about one of the main violations of standards is not to give PADI students’ snorkels, especially after the Open Water Diver course. The reason is that most Students and some Diving Instructors don’t like to wear a snorkel as they think it’s uncomfortable and in some cases they believe it’s less safe as a lot of students accidentally try to inflate and deflate their snorkel because they mistake it with their BCD’s inflator/deflator hose. I personally have seen a lot of PADI Diving Instructors not give snorkels to their students during PADI programs.
If so many Diving Instructors are against snorkels, why did PADI make it a standard for almost all PADI courses? The answer lies with what I described before… The PADI standards apply to all PADI courses taught in more than 180 countries worldwide. And as much as wearing the snorkel is maybe less needed in an easy diving location, it might help a lot in another location with more challenging water conditions. Remember that your students can dive worldwide with their PADI certification cards, so Diving Instructors should follow all PADI Standards to keep them safe wherever they go scuba diving in the world after completion of their PADI course(s) with you.
A more extreme example is when I met a Diving Instructor that only taught the mask removal and replacement skill and skipped all the other mask clearing skills. This is highly against PADI standards as they require you to practice different Mask Clearing skills at specific moments in the PADI Open Water Diver course. This Diving Instructor is significantly increasing the risk of having his students injured in the future. Following PADI Standards keeps students and scuba divers as safe a possible.
PADI Standards and consistency is a great business model
Some Diving Instructors are more successful than others and when I look at Diving Instructors that are less successful, it often turns out that their biggest flaw is that they don’t follow the PADI Standards. I know that some Diving Instructors are successful while breaking PADI Standards, but that is because they get away with it. Worldwide they are in the minority.
If you as a Diving Instructor follow PADI Standards then you automatically embrace an amazing company and their products. PADI’s courses are the most successful and chosen in the world with the biggest market share. PADI has already put all the effort, money and marketing into making their brand and diving courses the most popular in the world, they present that to us on a silver platter and we just need to teach it.
When you as a Diving Instructor agree and embrace PADI you will teach with so much more passion and your students will want to do more PADI continuing education courses with you and maybe even invest in some Dive Equipment.
Some people say that PADI stands for: “Put Another Dollar In”, but I highly disagree. My advice to Diving Instructors is to see this job as a win-win situation. By believing in the most successful dive training organisation in the world, embracing their teaching philosophy and by following PADI Standards, you don’t just keep your students safe, they will also have so much fun, enjoy the aquatic world, have some of the best experiences of their lives and at the same time, you, as a Diving Instructor, earn an income by practicing one of the best jobs in the world.
PADI Standards provides legal protection for Diving Instructors
Scuba Diving has one of the best safety records compared to other sports, but accidents can happen. If in the unlikely event your student does get injured it is already a very stressful situation and this gets worse if you get sued.
If you have taught and followed all PADI Standards and still something goes wrong then in most cases you are protected by the proven teaching system of PADI. If you have followed all standards then PADI will assist you in lawsuits as they want to protect their members in anyway possible.
If you as a Diving Instructor decided to break or deviate from PADI Standards then they cannot assist you to the full extent anymore and it can severely weaken your court case. Even if your violation of standards is not related to the incident it will be harder for PADI to back you up. I cannot express this enough. It is in your best interested as a Diving Instructor to follow PADI Standards if in the unlikely event you do end up having to defend your actions.
Following PADI Standards inspires the next generation of dive professionals
After safety reasons, for me this is the most important reason PADI Diving Instructors should follow PADI standards – inspiring the next generation of dive professionals. Everyone always agrees that following PADI standards is good for safety, consistency, quality, business, legal and other reasons…but almost no-one is talking about the impact that following or not following PADI Standards can have on DMTs/DMCs and new intern Instructors. This is so important as they are the next generation of scuba dive professionals and whomever they assist and learn from on PADI Diving courses truly shapes them and the future of our Industry.
If a PADI Divemaster or PADI IDC course is taught the right way, then Divemaster and IDC candidates will learn everything they need to know about following PADI Standards and how to use the PADI Instructor Manual correctly and why this is so important. The problem in most cases does not lie with the DM Instructor or Course Director, the problem in most cases lies with mimicking the bad habits of working Diving Instructors that have Divemaster candidates and Diving Instructor intern candidates assisting them on different PADI courses like, Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver and PADI Specialty courses.
If the working Diving Instructor decides to break PADI Standards for his/her own good then the DMTs/DMCs and Interns pick up on that and usually copy that later when they teach their own courses. Sadly enough a person is way more powerful in changing opinions than the manual is. For this reason a Diving Instructor should always follow PADI Standards and be a good role model and show the DMTs/DMCs and Instructor Interns that following standards is actually not hard and why they should do the same or even better.
Diving Instructors out there, please realise that you don’t just teach recreational divers, you also teach a next generation of scuba diving professionals and that they often copy what you do.
I can go on for hours giving you more examples why it is so important to follow PADI Standards but in most cases, in the end it comes down to the Individual Diving Instructor’s attitude. PADI has an excellent Quality Management department that deals with not only violations of PADI Standards, but also rewards Diving Instructors that do follow standards and receive great compliments from their diving students.
At Sairee Cottage Diving on Koh Tao in Thailand we spend a huge amount of extra time during the PADI Divemaster and PADI IDC Courses focussing on Risk Management, Marine Conservation and PADI Standards. We at Sairee Cottage Diving try our best to ensure that the next generation of PADI Divemasters and Diving Instructors follow all PADI Standards and will, in turn, inspire others to do so as well. Please contact us if you are interested in becoming a PADI Divemaster or Diving Instructor (IDC) and learn so much more about following PADI Standards.
Following standards is really not that hard and the benefits are so much better than saving that bit of time if standards are broken. I personally think that you just sleep so much better at night following PADI Standards as a Diving Instructor.
Marcel van den Berg
PADI Platinum Course Director
Sairee Cottage Diving PADI 5-Star IDC Centre
Koh Tao, Thailand