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PADI vs SSI, from instructor / dive shop owner point of view

Discussion in 'Going Pro' started by vovanx, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. vovanx

    vovanx Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: pl. Earth
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    so, what is the situation like in 2019? (l do not consider other agencies as they hold insignificant market share)
     
  2. wetb4igetinthewater

    wetb4igetinthewater Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle
    3,625
    1,862
    113
    What are you asking? I used to teach under both, have my own opinions about the pros and cons of each. My information isn't up to date, though I can't imagine that much has changed.
     
  3. Billy Northrup

    Billy Northrup ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Key Largo / Norcal
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    Specific questions get specific answers. Geography can play a part and is your market already saturated with a particular agency? Why not enjoy a product differentiation? Who is your intended customer?
     
  4. vovanx

    vovanx Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: pl. Earth
    171
    58
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    I've heard that PADI membership costs are twice as high as SSI. Is it in any way justified, other than PADI's aggressive marketing thus providing more clients (arguably) ?
    I've seen threads like "most PADI shops in my area switch to SSI" (in Europe), and recently I was told that here in Asia it's the same - PADI shops tend to switch to SSI. So PADI seems to lose its position and that's why their trademark is quite arguable client attraction.

    Also I've heard that PADI materials are somewhat outdated, while SSI uses more modern approach to teaching (e.g. were the first agency to force using computers instead of tables around ten years ago). Is that true?

    Any other thoughts and opinions? Is there any point to open a PADI branded dive shop in 2019?
     
    Sam Miller III likes this.
  5. vovanx

    vovanx Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: pl. Earth
    171
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    Also I was told that once you become a PADI MSDT (certified 25 open water students) you can start issuing any certifications without even passing that particular course yourself - e.g. you can become a sidemount instructor just by paying the fee to PADI while having zero dives in that configuration.

    Is it the same with SSI?
     
  6. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    25,635
    17,069
    113
    That is not true. The first agency to push computers this way was SDI, and it was more than 10 years ago. PADI came up with its computer version of the course not too long after that. I believe SSSI followed that.
    That is not true, either, although it is possible to scam the system if you are a pathological liar.

    There is usually no requirement that you take the course before teaching it at any level. You are supposed to have competence, but that competence can be achieved anywhere. For example, I have DPV certifications from both UTD and PSAI (overhead environment), but I did not take the PADI DPV course I teach. I am cave certified, but I did not take the PADI cavern course I teach. I am a trimix instructor, but I do not have the deep diver specialty certification that I teach. (If you were a trimix instructor, how would you feel about being required to have a recreational instructor teach you a specialty class to prove you can safely dive to 130 feet on air?)

    As for sidemount, I was certified by PSAI for diving sidemount in an overhead environment before the PADI course was invented. Should I be required to take the beginning sidemount class before I teach it?

    Each specialty has different requirements. There is an honor system in verifying that you meet those requirements, and it is possible to get past those through subterfuge, just as it is possible to write anything you want in a log book. That is the same for both agencies. Here is an example of how I know. A shop recently switched from PADI to SSI, and its technical diving instructor asked me to help him. He said he had to demonstrate skills to cross over and become an SSI technical instructor. I worked with him for half a day in the pool and made progress with his frog kick, modified frog kick, and modified flutter. I simply could not get him to reverse kick or helicopter turn properly, and he set off for his test with great trepidation. It turned out that he did not have to demonstrate many skills at all, including any of those kicks, so he is now an SSI technical instructor. More importantly, if he tells them that he has a few more dives than he has now, he will be certified as an SSI Instructor Trainer for technical diving, based solely upon his word, with no requirement to demonstrate the skills he will be certified to teach.
     
    Hoyden, Compressor, taimen and 3 others like this.
  7. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    25,635
    17,069
    113
    By the way, what I just described is largely unavoidable, and it happens in pretty much all educational settings.

    When I became a high school English teacher, none of the courses I taught matched the courses I took in high school precisely. People certified to teach Social Studies are allowed to teach any history course, economics, civics, political science, and a host of other courses they may never have taken. Over my career I met many teachers who I am sure did not know anything about their subjects that was not written on the pages of the students' textbooks, and to hide that their sole means of assessment was multiple choice fact-based tests on what was on those pages, tests usually supplied by the textbook manufacturer. They must have prayed each day that no one would ask a question that went beyond those facts.

    I also taught at the college level, and you would be surprised at how much of that goes on there as well. When I went to graduate school and was assigned to teach my first class as a graduate assistant, that class was Science Fiction, and I had read maybe 3 books of science fiction before I taught the class. Almost all of my students were better read in that genre than I was. I had to scramble to stay ahead of them.
     
    kelemvor and Steve_C like this.
  8. wetb4igetinthewater

    wetb4igetinthewater Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle
    3,625
    1,862
    113
    @vovanx ,

    Are you looking at opening a shop? Or working in the dive industry?

    Yes, SSI is less expensive in terms of instructor and shop dues and materials costs. PADI certainly has overall more brand recognition. They have done that very well. SSI allows flexibility for moving skills around, while PADI requires (though I know many who ignore the requirement) that all skills are completed in the required confined/open water dive before moving onto the new set. Not really a big deal, except if for example, you suddenly cannot equalize and need to continue teaching the class (happened to me once).

    While I don't teach at a shop and therefore not for SSI anymore, their online material is by far the best I've seen. I have to give them credit where credit is due. The students using SSI materials for open water were the best prepared for academics by a long shot that I've seen.

    If you plan to work for someone else, PADI does have the greatest marketshare by a long shot. It appears (my perception could be wrong) that their marketshare is shrinking and SSI's is growing, but the gap is still huge. I've seen a dramatic change in 3 years in Greece (not exactly a dive destination, but still). I think a lot of that is driven by agency fees. You need to decide where you want to work and which agency provides you with the most opportunities. Take into account the number of dive pros each agency generates each month, as there is a glut of dive pros, and thus rather low pay and rather high possibility of exploitation. Of course, if you are going to work as a dive pro, multiple languages, boat engine repair, compressor repair, web design, etc.. are all skills that can differentiate you from others.
     
  9. vovanx

    vovanx Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: pl. Earth
    171
    58
    28
    boulderjohn,
    so it's not PADI or SSI that is flawed, but the whole indrustry is.
    well, now I see why GUEs et cetera were created.

    wetb4igetinthewater,
    I plan to work in the dive industry in the nearest years and possibly to open a shop in some more distant future.

    this seems interesting.

    This is my perception too, I plan to work in Europe in the future and I feel that SSI going to be prevalent there.
     
  10. wetb4igetinthewater

    wetb4igetinthewater Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle
    3,625
    1,862
    113
    @vovanx

    You may want to consider when you open up your own shop to provide training of more than SSI such as RAID - that is one agency that is not flawed. I say that based upon their objective standards for certifcation, the only non-DIR agency to do so AFAIK.

    Good luck!

    BTW, SSI has a process for augmenting courses. I haven't pursued it. At SDI, I'm allowed to make reasonable additional requirements to my courses. That allows me to teach an advanced buoyancy course that has some semblance to GUE fundies.

    I am getting the impression that you want to focus on quality, teaching fewer, higher value courses. Definitely look at which agencies allow you to do that. I wouldn't worry about open water so much, as the agencies all teach the same skills pretty much (though there is differences in implementation and the extent of augmentation that is allowed), but con ed is where I see the difference.
     
    Sh0rtBus likes this.

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