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Megan Colborne is a content writer from South Africa with a passion for travel and adventure. Megan has an honours-level degree in Journalism specialising in writing and editing, as well as digital media. Before starting at GVI in 2019, she spent a year working in Spain, and travelling to other European countries like Amsterdam, Switzerland, Ireland and France. Megan is also an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.

Interested in diving? Always wanted to experience adventure below the ocean’s surface? A scuba diving course could be for you!

Reaching the ultimate level of Divemaster with a PADI diving certification will provide you with an enriched experience that includes education, training, and adventure. 

When done responsibly, diving is a skill you can use to give back to the environment, and we can all agree the earth could use a little more care like this. 

What is a PADI certification?

A dive training student waving from the water in full diving gear.


PADI, or the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, offers recreational diving memberships and dive training. 

When you successfully complete any of the PADI courses, you will be awarded a PADI certificate. PADI training provides education in diving skills, safety information and local environmental knowledge. 

This focus on environmental knowledge explains why, for example, it is important to protect underwater ecosystems. Programs also encourage all new divers to use their qualifications and skills to spread awareness about global aquatic conservation issues. 

This proves PADI’s commitment to their conservation ethics, and promises to work towards the protection and preservation of the oceans.

The seven levels of recreational divers

There are seven PADI certification levels to choose from when looking to become a diver


PADI offers various levels of training and certification, with most courses consisting of three main components. 

The first component is an online self-study module. This aims to provide you with the knowledge of the basic theories involved in the practice of diving. 

The second component is diving within confined waters, such as a swimming pool, to increase your level of comfort with the diving equipment and techniques. And finally, open water dives are used to put what you have learned into practice. 

These three components form the basis of most PADI certification levels.

1) PADI Discover Scuba Diving

The lowest padi certificate offered is the PADI Discover Scuba Diving certificate


This is the lowest qualification offered by PADI. You’ll complete a one-day training program allowing you to scuba dive up to 12 metres deep.

Although this isn’t seen as an official certification, it can be used as a credit towards gaining your PADI Open Water Diver certification. The purpose of this first course is to give you a feel for whether diving is for you.

2) PADI Scuba Diver

Take part in padi certification dive training with your friends and family


The PADI Scuba Diver is a popular entry-level course that provides training in scuba diving skills. The certification is made up of a two-day practical course and an online learning component. 

After completion you will be certified to dive up to 12 metres alongside a professional guide.

3) PADI Open Water Diver

To become a padi professional, you need to be comfortable with being in the water alone


This course officially “knights” you as a qualified diver after you’ve completed an online course, which takes around 12 to 15 hours, and four-day dive training. 

This level of PADI diving certification will allow you to dive with a fellow open water- certified diver, up to 18 metres deep.

4) PADI Speciality Diver

Once you have your professional scuba diver status, you can opt to undergo further training to specialise in trade-specific dives such as photography


As the name suggests, PADI Speciality Divers will undergo a specific PADI diving certification designed to prepare them to undertake a certain role underwater. 

These courses usually take one to two days to complete and may include skills such as underwater photography, deep river diving, underwater navigation, and search and recovery. 

5) PADI Advanced Open Water Diver

Becoming a padi professional allows you to meet like-minded people and make life-long friendships


This certification takes two days to obtain and consists of five different dive courses. Participants on this course will be required to complete five training dives using five different skill sets or learning outcomes.

Two of these five courses must be the Deep Dive and Underwater Navigation Dive Specialty  courses. The other three courses can be chosen from a supplied list. This advanced course is the most commonly chosen of the PADI certification levels.

6) Rescue Diver

Choose to gain your padi certificate during your next gap year


This PADI certification course will equip you with the skills needed for rescuing yourself and others in emergency situations underwater. This is a two or three-day course that involves theory, a pool session, as well as open water training dives.

 You will learn how to identify the signs of distress in other divers, how to manage equipment in emergency situations and what to do if a fellow diver is panicked or unresponsive. 

7) PADI Divemaster 

Become a padi divemaster with GVI


The most elite PADI certification level, becoming a PADI Divemaster, is something that fewer than 2% of all divers go on to achieve

Achieving a Divemaster PADI certification status is time-consuming and requires a high level of commitment and dedication to diving. 

To reach this PADI professional level, you need to have previously received your Rescue Diver qualifications, have five Specialty Diver certifications and have participated in a minimum of 50 dives.  

Eager to take it up a notch once you’ve received your Divemaster? You can continue your education and qualify to become an instructor. 

How can I get a PADI certificate?

Looking for a way to spend your next gap year? Why not spend it in Seychelles working towards your padi certification


So you’ve made the decision to dive right in and become a PADI pro, but aren’t too sure where to start?

With the marine conservation expedition in Seychelles you can get your PADI Advanced Open Water and Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Speciality qualifications. You’ll achieve all this while simultaneously working towards marine conservation goals alongside the local government.

In Fiji, you can learn to dive like a PADI pro and experience the warm waters of the south Pacific Ocean while also  gathering data that will aid the local management of marine protected areas. Doing this will help with the long-term protection of delicate coral reefs and marine ecosystems.

Dive head-first into one of our marine conservation volunteer programs and make an impact while you become a PADI professional.

Megan Colborne is an intern at the GVI Writing Academy. The Writing Academy is a skills-development program that pairs development editors with budding travel writers. Learn more about the program here.