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 ISO Standards.
The European/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.
Benefits for the Scuba Diver
- To ensure a high level of quality and safety for an activity that demands quality training;
- To enable the consumer to make informed choices;
- To create internationally recognised diver qualifications which enable the consumer to purchase services from dive centres worldwide.
Benefits for the Scuba Diving Professional
- To provide scuba instructors with access to internationally accepted qualifications and benchmark the market for training service providers (eg dive centres, resorts, schools or clubs);
- To provide benchmarks for training organisations and service providers to prove that their services comply with the current “state of the art”;
- To improve understanding between training organisations, to raise standards and to increase the level of credibility of the diving industry.