Scuba_Adventure_Octopus (4)-01

2301 Central Expy #140

Plano, TX 75075

(972) 423-3483​


Mon-Fri: 11:00 A.M. - 7:00 P.M.

Saturday: 10:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.
Sunday 1:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M.

PADI vs SDI – Is There A Difference?

If you know anything about scuba diving, or have been researching scuba for the first time, you’ve probably heard of something called PADI. Maybe even before you heard about SDI or it’s hugely popular technical diving agency TDI. PADI started over 50 years ago and SDI over 20 so they’ve been in the market longer.

But SDI changed the market back in 1999, and in a BIG way.

Before we dig into the differences between the two agencies and why Scuba Adventures chose SDI over PADI, you should know that when discussing competent agencies in the U.S. alone, it’s not just about these two.

There are other agencies that offer similar benefits and have unique advantages.

You may be surprised to know, when it comes to scuba certifying agencies in the U.S. there is a surprisingly large amount of certifying agencies nationwide. Most you wouldn’t be familiar with, and some you would… like the YMCA. Yes the Y!

Just because you’re aware of one scuba diving agency more than another, doesn’t mean one has less quality and less educational value.

Some might argue that several agencies one-up PADI in certain areas anyway!

When we purchased the Scuba Adventures it was already associated with PADI, so we had the perfect opportunity to stay or bring in another agency.

It’s actually more work to make a switch to another agency such as SDI, SSI, NASE, NAUI or another worldwide leading agency. But if there is value…it’s worth it.

And there was.

After a proper evaluation, we felt our dive students would benefit more from the SDI training and procedures, so we invested time and financial resources to move the entire existing staff AWAY from PADI and cross them over to SDI/TDI.

So, what’s the difference between SDI and PADI?

To be completely fair, there isn’t that much!

Yeah, we said it.

They are much more alike, than they are different. The differences are in fact subtle, but we think, important.

The ownership at Scuba Adventures has over 100 years of dive experience and certifications from NAUI, PADI, SDI, NASE, TDI and a few others.

Why did we make this decision and investment?

We will break it all down for you.


How SDI and PADI Are Alike

Both Agencies Follow The Same Global Certification Requirements, WRSTC.

What’s WRSTC?

The World Recreational Scuba Training Council (or the WRSTC) regulates the minimum standards for all recreational diving courses.

*These worldwide standards are approved and followed by all leading certifying agencies especially like PADI, SDI, SSI, NAUI, NASE, IANTD, PDIC, RAID, and SNSI!*

Member agencies of WRSTC work to ensure there is a minimum expectation of learned skills and consistency in teaching. They collaborate to educate and communicate on behalf of the dive training industry.

Both PADI and SDI have representation on the WRSTC’s United States council and they are the ONLY members on the Canadian council as of 2020.

WRSTC forms councils to help ensure that all member agencies teach the same core skills and have common requirements to become a safe, certified diver.


Certifications Accepted Across The Globe

Can you dive anywhere? Yes!

Each student receives the same capabilities after their certification, no matter the agency.

The agency equivalents of the Open Water course allow students to dive with a buddy, anywhere in the world, up to 60 ft.

With any of the top agencies, you can dive anywhere in the world.

SDI is recognized worldwide with more than 24 international offices and thousands of SDI dive shops.

SDI is an active member of the WRSTC and in addition, it’s programs are approved by the European Underwater Federation (EUF) AND the International Organization Standardization (ISO).

By the way, ISO is not a Scuba thing it’s a worldwide quality standard.

Perhaps THE worldwide standard for ensuring key processes are documented and followed rigorously. So, its endorsement of SDI is important.

The SDI Advantage

As you can imagine, there are still certain variations between agencies. Our dive shop has been both a PADI and SDI shop. The leadership team as certified divers with TDI and SDI for years before buying the shop, so we had a lot of history to rely on.

So how do you choose between the SDI and PADI?


A Modern Learning Approach

The first decompression tables were developed in 1907. In over 100 years, technology and knowledge continues to advance.

SDI chooses to embrace this technology to make diving an even safer sport for new divers.

That’s why SDI starts divers with dive computers from day one.

Tables are still important for divers to understand the science behind dive computers and in case their computer dies or fails. But just teaching tables is like handing students in the 2020s an encyclopedia and ignoring the advancements of computers. Or like cars not having airbags.

Dive computers not only allow divers to maximize their dive time, they warn divers if they ascend too quickly, if they exceed their no decompression time and how to make decompression stops in the unlikely event they exceed their decompression time.

They are essential dive equipment.

SDI students learn by using dive computers even as open water students. They were the first agency to implement this requirement.

In addition, SDI is a renowned leader in e-learning. Their programs are cutting edge and challenging. Don’t expect to find any fluffy questions students can blow right through. You want to learn properly…SDI’s e-learning prepares you for the first day of class like no other.


Personalized Experience

Another great plus to being certified by SDI is they are able to personalize your certification experience.

PADI’s teaching approach has gained criticism for being too “cookie-cutter.”

It’s very common for students to struggle with at least one skill during their certification.

From PADI’s standards, you are unable to move onto another skill until you have successfully completed the previous. This means some students get stuck and even sometimes overwhelmed with a skill.

SDI allows their instructors to be a bit more flexible with skills.

As long as the student completes the skill during the course, they can reorganize the order to allow for divers to become more confident in the water and slowly work up to completing the skill they are struggling with.

This is a HUGE benefit to an instructor and student. And they both appreciate the flexibility.


So How Do I Choose A Scuba Certification Agency?

SDI vs PADI vs SSI course equivalents

Did you know all the way up to the professional instructor level, you can swap between certification agencies for each course?

Which means if you’ve done your open water course with PADI, you can do your advanced with SDI and so on.

Although there are a few differences between agencies, they’re few and far between.

We’ll let you in on an industry secret

Those in the dive community know that it’s more important to select the right dive shop and staff, than to worry about which agency the shop uses to certify.

Mind = Blown

Rather than focusing on the agency, focus on the instructor teaching the class.

The instructor, size of the class and professionalism of the shop are going to greatly affect your experience.

It’s highly possible that you will love your instructor and proceed through the Open Water Certification with flying colors.

It’s still not a bad idea to ask about who is teaching the next 2-3 classes and ask the dive shop to describe each of the instructor. Ask about experience, strengths, who they match up well with etc. Describe your student and attempt to make the best match.

After getting certified, you will meet many of the other instructors and can determine who might be a good fit for your continuing education. Some students stay with an instructor their entire career, some bounce around inside the dive shop to take advantage of everyone’s combined experience.

Having a strong connection with the owners, instructors, retail staff and the dive shop’s community is way more important than the logo on your certification card. If you are able to connect with a dive shop and it’s community, you have an opportunity to develop life-long, like-minded friends.

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Customer Reviews

Scuba Adventures

Customer Reviews

John Worthen July - 2020

I can’t recommend this place enough. After moving to the area, I read a lot of reviews and emailed several dive shops before going with Scuba Adventures. I choose them because they were the most responsive and helpful. The owners seem to not only be great divers but have business backgrounds. This is the most focus on customer service I have seen in a dive shop. Good inventory with all of the brands I could ask for. On point with their pricing. If you do find a better price they will work with you.

I ended up taking the Rescue Diver course and had a blast! I just got back from a dive trip with them at Lake Travis, very enjoyable. They also have one of the only indoor pools (18 ft.) in the area.

At Scuba ranch they have a big spot that is one of the easiest to get to and a nice pavilion for training. They are right next to the air refill station, which I love! Family and friends are welcome at the ranch. Good community there on weekends and you'll most likely find a dive buddy for a fun dive.

Maddie Womack August - 2020

Scuba Adventures and their staff are beyond amazing! Their Plano store has a very wide selection of equipment and the pool is 18ft deep! Their Scuba Ranch location is amazing and still growing, with plenty of room and seating. I’m a fairly new diver and all the instructors do an amazing job of making me feel safe and secure deep underwater. Their staff is always very helpful and I can’t wait to continue my diving knowledge and certificates with them.

Jason Domenden March - 2020

Found a great diving shop for all my gear. Been living here in texas for awhile and this shop has just what I needed. Really recommend scuba adventure for all your gear.

Emily Winnenberg March - 2020

Went in last week to pick out goggles for an upcoming trip— loved the selection of masks they had available! Ended up picking out a hot pink pair to shamelessly match the other accessories I’d picked out.

Matt K March - 2020

The new owners are the greatest! Their positive approach towards people and the sport of diving are huge part of the reason I love the sport. When they told me they were going to open a dive shop; I knew without a doubt I was going to be their customer. I have taken several dive adventures with them and other scuba diving misfits, and plan on taking many more.

Martin Garvie February - 2020

Decided to revisit this shop since it is under new management. Already impressed with the facility improvements - by far the best training pool I have seen. Looking forward to the roll out of the full training curriculum - will be able to go from open water certified through all kinds of technical specialties. Good dive gear selection. Owners really have a great vision for promoting scuba diving and ocean adventures.

Don Champlin July - 2020

This is the shop with the most experienced and competent personnel in the metroplex. Their commitment to safe, enjoyable and professional instruction is obvious from the first time you enter the store and meet the staff and owners. I have dove with most of them over the years and know first hand the love of diving they have and now share with the community as the new team. They are knowledgeable and up to date with the latest dive info. Don't miss a chance to dive with them.

Julie L February - 2020

In January 2020, Scuba Adventures was purchased by divers that were affiliated with a different scuba store. These same divers taught me to dive, and got me to fall in love with scuba diving (despite me being pretty scared to start). I trust them, enough that I opted to take a trip with them to Cozumel for diving in 2019. It was one of the best trips of my life, and now I'm already signed up for their Costa Rica dive trip in 2020 with Scuba Adventures. I haven't visited the shop yet, but I can 100% vouch for the new owners--they are knowledgeable divers, good people, and all around amazing.

Jeremiah Perez May - 2020

Owners and staff are professional, knowledgeable, and friendly. Allowed me to try backplate and wing set up in the pool. They did not pressure me to buy anything, but gave great information on products and financing options. All in all great staff and would recommend them to anyone!!!

Eric Coulombe August - 2020

Great customer service, from the owners to the employees. Very knowledgeable about everything and anything pertaining to scuba diving. The instructors are highly educated and experienced in scuba diving. They put you through real life scenarios, so you know and understand what to do in the event something happens while you are under water. My family and I learned a lot about scuba diving in a very short amount of time. We will definitely keep taking additional courses with Scuba Adventures as we progress. We definitely reccomend Scuba Adventures to anyone wanting to learn and get scuba diving certified.
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