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Professional Association of Diving Instructors
Recreational diver training and certification agency
The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) is a recreational diving membership and diver training organization founded in 1966 by John Cronin and Ralph Erickson. Cronin was originally a NAUI instructor who decided to form his own organization with Erickson, and to break diver training down into several modular courses instead of the single universal course then prevalent.
PADI courses range from minimal entry level to relatively advanced recreational diver certification, several specialized diving skills courses, usually connected with specific equipment or conditions, some diving related informational courses and a range of recreational diving instructor certifications. They also offer various technical diving courses. As of March 2017 PADI is reported to have issued 25 million scuba certifications.
In March 2017, PADI was sold by Providence Equity Partners LLC.
In 2018, PADI reported it had a membership of over 135,000 individuals and 6,500 dive centers, and had awarded more than 25,000,000 diving certifications internationally. Membership is heavily weighted toward males, but in 2016, the organization experienced a growth of 1.1% in female certifications. Women accounted for 37.2% of all certifications during 2016. The organization hosts Women's Dive Day events across the globe in an effort to increase awareness of women divers.
PADI courses are performance-based diver training programs,[clarification needed] and at the introductory level emphasize practical knowledge, safety and motor skills. The basics of diving physics and physiology are introduced during entry level programs. The details of these concepts are left for later courses when they are necessary for the required competences of the specific training. These practices fall within current modern learning philosophies and receive regular updates via peer review.
The PADI training system is composed of modules with standardized learning objectives divided into theory and practical skills development. Each module is a stand-alone course for which certification is provided to the participant on successful completion of the course. Theory is mainly conveyed by way of self-study using books, computer-based training using CD-ROM or online learning. All study options are supplemented with video and, in most cases, live instruction to help the participant visualize what they have read. Confirmation of the student diver's level of mastery in standardized knowledge review sessions is carried out by a scuba instructor. The instructor utilizes both written tests and live observation during actual dives to verify a student's knowledge and skills. Practical skills are obtained through confined water training (pools or relatively shallow water) and performance evaluations in open water.
Adventure Diver - exposure to three elective scuba experiences.
Advanced Open Water Diver - expanded scuba skills through "adventure" dive experience: a "deep" dive (18-30m), an underwater navigation dive and three electives from a large choice.
Rescue Diver - Basic skills in stress management, self rescue and buddy rescue for recreational diving.
Master Scuba Diver - recognition of selected set of certifications and experience: Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver, 5 elective specialties and 50 logged dives.
Recreational specialty courses
Altitude Diver - open water diving where the surface is 300 meters (1,000 feet) or more above sea level. The training includes making adjustments to the dive plan to compensate for reduced atmospheric pressure, which influences decompression.
PADI's instructional methodology is cited in EDUCAUSE's 2012 book, Game Changers: Education and Information Technologies regarding badges as "a symbol or indicator of an accomplishment, skill, quality, or interest. From the Boy and Girl Scouts to PADI diving instruction, to the more recently popular geolocation game Foursquare, badges have been successfully used to set goals, motivate behaviors, represent achievements, and communicate success in many contexts." 
PADI's environmental emphasis is cited in the 2007 book, New Frontiers in Marine Tourism, in its section, Dive Tourism, Sustainable Tourism and Social Responsibility: A Growing Agenda - Environmental management and education: the case of PADI, (Chapter Seven). "PADI, as well as other diver certification organisations and individual businesses, has put significant resources into conservation and developed public awareness programmes".
New Frontiers in Marine Tourism also cites in the section entitled Student Scholarships and Social Responsibility: A Growing Agenda for PADI, that "The PADI Scholarship programme ... is a good example of the way that various disparate parts of an industry, each with limited resources, can pool their efforts to help more people from developing countries to enter the diving profession... PADI recognises that good relations with the involvement of local people is essential both to business development and to environmental protection. The scholarship scheme makes entry into the dive business more possible for some students who have the backing of their dive centre."
In 2006, PADI was severely criticized by a Coroner's court in the United Kingdom for providing what experts regarded as short and insufficient training. Although PADI training standards differ from those formerly prevalent in the United Kingdom under the BSAC system, PADI training standards are consistent with World Recreational Scuba Training Council standards.
In 1995, PADI founded Project AWARE to help conserve underwater environments. Project AWARE information has been integrated in most courses and divers are offered the chance to exchange their normal certificate for an AWARE-certificate by making a donation to the program when sending in their application for a new certificate.
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