How PADI Works

Marine Life Image Gallery PADI is the world's major dive-training organization. And it all started with a bottle of whiskey and a plan. See more pictures of marine life.
Photo courtesy of PADI

In 1966, a couple of guys in Illinois opened a bottle of whiskey and sat down to talk about scuba diving. Both were avid divers, and they had issues with the system -- or, more accurately, the lack of one. They felt the certification process for scuba was unprofessional and ineffective, and that it wasn't nearly easy enough and safe enough for people to get started in the sport.

A couple of drinks later, they'd agreed on the solution: An organization dedicated to professional, thoughtful, full-spectrum scuba education and support. They called it PADI.

Forty-something years later, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, more commonly known as PADI, is the world's foremost dive-training organization [source: PADI]. It offers classes, trips, online resources and multilevel certifications to anyone interested in seeing what's below the surface. Millions of people worldwide are card-carrying, PADI-certified scuba divers, from the beginners who go for shallow dives around coral reefs on vacation to the divers at the master level, who might go night diving and wreck diving, and the lifestyle divers who teach others how to safely explore the underwater world.

It's not hard to get into diving through PADI. The organization is practically everywhere. In this article, we'll see what PADI is all about. We'll explore the services the organization offers, find out what you can do with a PADI certification card and look into the special benefits available to those who join the PADI Diving Society, which is different from getting certified to dive.

We'll start with the basics: What does the Professional Association of Dive Instructors have to offer those interested in discovering the watery depths?