SSI vs. PADI - The two most popular certifying agencies

An introduction to SSI & PADI

The best way to describe the difference between SSI (Scuba Schools International) & PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is to compare them to Coke & Pepsi – two different companies that sell a very similar product. PADI has been around for longer and used to be one of the only options when choosing a Diving agency, hence the term ‘Getting your PADI’ when referring to getting your Open Water Divers License. SSI has been around for a shorter time but their more modern way of teaching people how to dive has propelled them all the way to the top, SSI & PADI are now the two biggest SCUBA certifying agencies that are both recognised worldwide and you can’t really go wrong with either of them.

Learning to Scuba Dive on Koh Tao

What’s the difference between SSI & PADI?

Both PADI & SSI follow the safety guidelines and skill requirements set by the same governing body, the WRSTC (World Recreational Scuba Training Council) meaning all courses, Open Water Diver through to professional level, are taught in a very similar way and follow the same safety guidelines. The course schedule, requirements and equipment used are practically identical.

One major difference is SSI allows their divers to learn at their own pace, and as long as all skills are completed by the end of the course they will pass. PADI have a very strict plan for each section of the course – for example if you are having trouble with one skill you cannot progress until that skill is completed. SSI is a bit different and will allow you to continue the dive or pool session, move on and come back to the skill when you are feeling more confident.

SSI is the world’s largest store based training agency. SSI Instructors and Dive Masters, must be affiliated with a physical store. PADI is the world’s largest scuba training agency. PADI Instructors can teach independent of a dive store.

Learning to Scuba Dive on Koh Tao

Should I choose PADI or SSI?

The reality is that it doesn’t really matter what training agency you choose for entry level diving – PADI & SSI are recognised world-wide and are compatible with each other. This means you can do your SSI Open Water Course and then your Advanced Open Water with PADI (or vice versa). With any PADI or SSI diving license or certification you can walk into any dive center and go diving whether they are a Dive School affiliated with PADI, SSI, CMAS, BSAC, SDI or any other Scuba Diving Training agency. Until you become a dive professional and want to work in the diving industry then the difference for recreational level diving with both PADI & SSI is very, very similar.

Sairee Beach, Koh Tao

Are the Dive Schools on Koh Tao SSI or PADI?

Here on Koh Tao there are over 50 Scuba Diving Centres and there is a good mix of both PADI & SSI dive centres and a few lesser known training agencies. Here at Phoenix Divers we much prefer the teaching methods of SSI, their flexibility makes it really easy to compact the course into our 3-and-a-half-day schedule and SSI courses (including the Open Water Diver) are typically a lot cheaper than PADI courses saving you some valuable traveling money. Don’t let the difference in price make you think that with PADI you’re getting more for your money, almost all courses include the same amount of dives, the same internationally recognised certification & use the same equipment.

Sairee Beach, Koh Tao

About Phoenix Divers and our SSI Scuba Diving Courses

We are a small dive school on Koh Tao that has been open for more than 15 years and taught over 25,000 people to Scuba Dive. Our Scuba Diving Center provides a family atmosphere and teaches in small group sizes but with all the facilities you would expect from a bigger dive school. We are based on Sairee beach, the best spot on the island surrounded by all of the best restaurants, shops and bars that Koh Tao has to offer. Our purpose built dive pool, big pink dive boat, experienced instructors and extremely fair price provide the perfect recipe for an amazing diving experience here on Koh Tao.


dive master training koh tao