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PADI Dive Certifications 101

By: Claire Hughes High School Adventures, Middle School, Pro Dive, Custom Programs, Parents, Scuba

PADI (the Professional Association of Dive Instructors) has lots of certifications available to help divers learn, progress and enjoy their diving. Here’s our guide to what’s on offer and where they fit in your Broadreach journey!

Teens earning PADI Open Water certification on Broadreach Caribbean program

Open Water

The entry-level diving course! Students diving for the first time will start with this certification. During Open Water you learn the basics – setting up your gear, how to put it on, and how to get in the water! You’ll perform exercises in shallow water first to learn the skills you need as you dive. These exercises may seem strange and even uncomfortable at first, but rest assured, you use every single skill as you progress – and it gets easier every time you do it!

Once the confined water sessions are complete, and your Instructor has made sure you have mastered those skills, it’s time to venture out into deeper water. Head to the reef! You do four ‘open water’ dives in which you’ll revisit the skills you’ve already learned but in a new environment. There’ll also be time to swim around and enjoy the scenery – and start spotting those fish and critters we all love to see in the coral.

There is some theory involved so you will have to do some reading (and take a test). However, most people agree that as a classroom, an exotic location is a pretty cool setting! Your Instructor will walk you through all the theory in a way that makes sense to you. It’s important for safety that you understand everything, so ask lots of questions. Once you’re done – congrats, you’re certified! You and your fellow Broadreachers should make some cake to celebrate and look forward to a lifetime of underwater adventures.

Teens begin night dive as a part of Advanced Open Water course on Broadreach Caribbean trip

Advanced Open Water

The Advanced course builds on the skills that you learned during Open Water. There are 5 dives in total that make up the course – a couple that are required, and three that your Instructor will help you to select based on the conditions and location. The idea is to progress and start to develop skills, either using equipment underwater or taking more notice of the environment you’re diving in. You’ll complete a deep dive, learn navigation and compass skills, dive at night, work on your buoyancy, learn about fish families and species, or dive a wreck.

Teens practice rescue skills for PADI Rescue diver course on Broadreach Caribbean voyage

Rescue Diver


The Rescue course helps prepare you to assist others that may need it during dive activities. Very often, prevention of emergency situations is key, and there are many exercises here that cover that. Although there is no one ‘right’ way to assist, Rescue Diver gives you a ‘toolbox’ of skills that can help during an emergency. You’ll learn everything from throwing rescue buoys to underwater search patterns to creating an emergency action plan in your development during the course. Scenarios created by your Instructor may just be a simulation, but they’ll feel real in the moment! The way you respond will be assessed as you work together with your crew mates to handle the situation. Many people say that the Rescue Diver course is one of the most fun, challenging, and rewarding dive courses they have done!

Middle school students practice wrapping ankle for emergency first responder certification on Broadreach

Emergency First Responder (EFR)

EFR is done in conjunction with the Rescue course and is an entry-level CPR and first aid course. It teaches the skills you’ll need to know to provide basic life support (and to simulate it during rescue scenarios!) as well as oxygen administration and wound care.

Broadreach student diving working on PADI specialty on Red Sea summer program


Broadreach offers many of the PADI Specialty certifications. These vary from trip to trip, so there’s always something new to learn! They build on skills learned during the advanced course and dive deeper into the skills and knowledge you need to excel. Float like a spaceman around the reef with the Peak Performance Buoyancy specialty, become a coral expert, learn Fish ID or a Night diving specialty. On more advanced trips, complete the Nitrox, Navigation or Wreck specialty.

Four Broadreach students hold Master Diver sign at sunset on boat in Caribbean

Master Diver

Got your Rescue diver? Completed five specialties? Have 50 dives recorded in your logbook? You’re eligible for the Master Diver certification! PADI recognises those with more experience by making seasoned divers eligible for Master Diver – the highest recreational dive level. If you’re joining us with previous dive experience, or participate in the Advanced Windwards or Leewards scuba voyages, you may be able to apply for this rating at the end of the trip. Flex those diving muscles and show everyone you mean business!

Broadreach student completing PADI Jr divemaster certification

Junior Divemaster

If you already have your Rescue Diver, are thinking of becoming a dive professional in the future, but aren’t quite 18 yet, the Junior Divemaster course is for you! This certification, which PADI launched in 2020, is aimed at divers aged 15-17 who already have a wealth of experience but are interested to learn more and start developing their teaching and leadership skills. Learn about becoming a dive leader and mentor, hone demonstration quality skills, and take your knowledge to the next level.

PADI divemaster assists student on Broadreach trip

Professional diving

The first step to working in the dive industry is the Divemaster course, and Broadreach offers a few different options to get this certification. If you went on any of our Caribbean adventures, you may even have worked with one of our Divemaster candidates as they fit you up for dive gear, assisted the instructors with set up, or helped you master mask clearing in the confined water session! If you’re interested in a Divemaster course, or even becoming an Instructor someday, be sure to give us a call.

Learn more about all of our summer scuba programs here.