So, you enjoyed open water diving, advanced diver certification is just what you need to keep moving!

Most advertising and a lot of professional divers will tell you advanced diver certification is the only way to really enjoy scuba diving to its fullest.

To some extent it is true – in as far as it is a shorter way to gain some of the theoretical and practical knowledge, it would take many dives for you to learn by yourself as well as the fact that you will learn skills this way which could feasibly save you injury.

The advanced diver course is one which improves the skills of the open water diver and most importantly qualifies the diver to dive to depths between 30 and 40 meters depending on which organisation you are affiliated to.

The number of dives undertaking during the course varies from five to ten dives and over a period of two to ten days.

Of the larger, well known organisations, PADI appears to be the shortest and least stringent in terms of required experience prior to undertaking advanced diver training. The qualification takes a few days to complete if done on concurrent days. BSAC appears to be the most intensive and lengthy.

The central theme of the course is pretty much the same whichever certifying entity you are using, just that there are differing levels of depth in the various disciplines.

Minimum age for certification varies from 12 – 16 years old.


The course is covered by way of theory discussions from the associated manual which is either studied at home or available online, then the majority of learning is by way of practical application in open water dives.

The duration of the PADI advanced diver course is usually 3 days – minimum 2.

Previously night diving was a mandatory specialty but after representations from the Nordic countries this was dropped – living in the land of the ‘midnight sun’ made it difficult to carry out a night dive in summer months! Where feasible it is still a recommended specialty. The certification qualifies the diver up to depths of 30 meters.


BSAC’s equivalent of advanced diver certification is Sport diver and extends over a greater period and on the face of it would appear to be more intensive.

Theory Training covers numerous subjects in some depth (Pun?)

To do this course with BSAC you must hold either BSAC ocean diver or PADI open water certification as well as being over 14 years old.

You will be required to pass a BSAC medical.
The fact that BSAC divers are trained in basic decompression diving is forbidden by North American organisations.
The certification qualifies the diver to a depth of 30 meters and having logged 24 dives is a prerequisite.
The course includes 5 different specialty dives – each a separate dive in open water.


NAUI’s advanced diver course is in the same vein as the other organisations. A difference is being certified to dive to 40m as a result.
It covers six open water dives over about two days.
As with the others Navigation, low visibility and deep diving form the core of the course.


The following is a broad spectrum of subjects in advanced diver certification courses, covered by the various certifying authorities.
BSAC pay a lot of attention to practical dive experience as SSI may well do given their lengthy practical course.

It has to be said the BSAC are far more open about the content of their courses than any of the other organisations.

Typical Specialty dives:

  • Boat diving
  • Deep diving
  • Diver propulsion vehicle use
  • Drift diving
  • Dry suit diving
  • Multilevel and computer diving
  • Night diving
  • Peak performance buoyancy
  • Search and recovery
  • Underwater nature study
  • Underwater navigation
  • Underwater photography
  • SMB use
  • Wreck diving
  • Computer Diving
  • Diver Stress & Rescue
  • Enriched Air Nitrox
  • Equipment Techniques
  • Navigation
  • Night & Limited Visibility Diving
  • Shore Diving
  • Hunt & Collect
  • Altitude Diving
  • Diver Propulsion Vehicle
  • Marine Species Identification
  • Cavern Diving

Chinhoyi Caves

How about this as an interesting place to do some of your specialty dives?

I did mine in the Chinoyi Caves in Zimbabwe some years ago - Cave dive, Deep dive and altitude dive all in one location. The clearest water you will find - absolutely as though you are flying with viz way beyond 40 to 50 m without exaggeration.

Typical Specialty dives:

I have included BSAC’s sport diver (advanced diver)course content for the fact that whilst the other organisations will cover this to some degree, BSAC have been very thorough (therefore more informational).
The fact that BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club) is a club rather than strictly a commercial enterprise has driven the attention to detail and safety whilst some of the the other certifying bodies have had a commercial perspective and are gearing their courses towards attracting participants for commercial reasons.

BSAC Course detail

  • Risk assessment
  • Diver rescue
  • Effective rescues
  • Priorities of resuscitation
  • Resuscitation
  • Shot lines
  • The SMB
  • Delayed SMB (DSMB)
  • Distance lines
  • The diving compass
  • Planning for deeper diving
  • Partial pressure of gas
  • Nitrogen
  • BSAC decompression tables
  • Decompression & computers
  • Air planning & systems
  • Alternative air source
  • Air planning and systems
  • Considering deeper or more challenging diving
  • Air Planning
  • Equipment configuration

Going diving

  • Going diving as a sport diver
  • Dive leading
  • Nitrox and rebreather divers
  • Nitrox
  • Rebreathers
  • Assistant dive marshal

Sheltered water training

  • Rescue skills
  • Emergency procedures including self-rescue and surface assistance to a buddy

Open water dives

  • Sport diver refresher/orientation
  • Have an enjoyable dive
  • Basic diving skills refresher
  • Diver rescue
  • Revision of Controlled Buoyant Lift of an unconscious casualty from depth
  • Recover casualty to shore with appropriate CPR
  • Use of surface marker buoy (smb)
  • Use a SMB during all phases of a dive
  • Simulated decompression dive
  • Plan and conduct a dive involving a decompression stop
  • Compass navigation/dsmb deployment
  • Use a compass to navigate effectively underwater
  • Conduct a decompression stop using a DSMB deployed from the bottom

Dive leading/basic skill review

    Plan a dive within the limitations of previous experience

Assistant dive marshal

  • Experience the role of Assistant Dive Marshal by maintaining a dive log and understanding the relevance and importance of the information recorded for safe buddy pairing and adequate dive monitoring

Diving experience

  • Experience a range of 5 different conditions during a minimum in-water time of 150 mins since gaining the Ocean Diver qualification
Sport diver

  • Theory test

Advanced diver certification is not all there is - click here for more

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