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What Does PADI Stand For?

   April 26th, 2022   Posted In: Articles   Tags:

What Does PADI Stand For?

What does PADI stand for exactly? It stands for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.

How Did PADI Get Started?

PADI was started in 1966 by two guys, John Cronin and Ralph Erickson, over a bottle of scotch in Illinois. They both saw a need in a growing diving industry for proper education and safety. As PADI, they developed the first recreational diving certification requirements in 1967, and in 1968 introduced the first photo ID for diver certification cards. Together, they created today what is PADI.

What Is PADI?

PADI is a worldwide recognized SCUBA diving certification agency. It is the world’s largest SCUBA diving membership and training organization. Since 1967, PADI has issued over 28 million SCUBA certifications across the globe. PADI developed the first of its kind guidelines and skills for teaching different SCUBA certification levels.

Over the years, in addition to teaching people how to SCUBA dive, PADI also became more involved in ocean conservation. In fact, PADI collaborates with the Project AWARE (Aquatic World Awareness, Responsibility and Education) Foundation to encourage divers to help protect the ocean. In 2019, the tagline for PADI was changed accordingly from “the Way the World Learns to Dive®” to “Seek Adventure. Save the Ocean.℠”

What Does PADI Teach?

What is PADI’s level of certifications? PADI teaches recreational, professional, and technical certification courses as well as diving experiences.


PADI offers recreational, professional, and technical certification courses. The basic PADI open water SCUBA diver certification course is the world’s most recognized certification. After open water certification, advanced and specialty courses are designed to help you keep learning, gain new skills, and be safe going into different environments such as a wreck. 


For those wishing to earn some money in SCUBA diving, PADI offers professional level courses from assisting in teaching courses as a divemaster, teaching SCUBA students as an instructor, and all the way up to teaching the next round of SCUBA instructors as an IDC Staff Instructor and above. 


In addition to recreational diving, technical diving became very popular in the 1990’s. In 2000, PADI developed the TecRec program which is technical diving for recreational divers. These courses have allowed recreational divers to learn how to dive safely beyond the recreational diving limit of 130 feet. Besides having proper thermal protection, which often includes a dry suit, there are many skills needed to be able to dive deep safely. Furthermore, in 2011, PADI developed courses for recreational use of rebreathers and side-mount, which previously were only taught to technical divers.


Beyond certification courses, PADI also offers experiences such as discover SCUBA diving where you can get in the water in SCUBA diving equipment to try it out in the ocean under the direct supervision of an instructor. PADI has also expanded its reach to children. Since 2001, children as young as 8 years old can try SCUBA diving in the pool. The minimum age for full SCUBA certification is 10 years old, although there are restrictions on diving depths and supervision.

Where Can I Get PADI Certified?

PADI operates in 186 countries and territories throughout the world with 6600 dive centers and resorts. A web search in your location will probably bring up a PADI dive shop where you can get certified. PADI also offers certification courses in exotic places while you are on vacation. 

And there you have it, the answer to ‘What does PADI stand for?’. Time to get out there and explore the water!

Candace is an avid scuba diver and freelance writer with a PhD in Biomedicine. She has been diving since 2002 and is currently a PADI IDC Staff Instructor. When she is not instructing, she enjoys writing about scuba and volunteering at the local aquarium where she dives with the sharks!

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