Recreational scuba diving has developed in the last few decades to be a very popular leisure time activity. The recreational scuba diver of today is frequently a vacation diver who uses leisure industry services, such as travel agents specialised in diving trips, diving schools and dive centres, throughout the world. Given the variety of different training service providers in the market, it is no easy task for consumers to choose the right training service provider.
Experts from scuba diving training organisations and companies, consumer representatives and regulatory authorities have jointly developed a set of standards for training services in recreational scuba diving which equally serve both the recreational diver and scuba diving professionals. The result of this common effort is a series of European Standards published in 2004 by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) dealing with quality and safety aspects in the training of recreational scuba divers and scuba instructors as well as requirements for dive centres. Subsequently, these standards were further refined and became a parallel set of international ISO Standards.
The CEN/ISO Standards specify three levels of recreational scuba diver certification, and two levels of scuba instructor certification. Each standard specifies the competencies that a scuba diver or a scuba instructor has to have achieved in order for a training organisation to award the respective certification. For each level, the standards lay down requirements concerning prerequisites for training, theoretical knowledge, scuba skills and certification procedures.