By Don Gardner
For many divers, the next logical step after earning open water diver certification is to continue their education and skills training with an advanced open water certification.
The best way to equate it is to compare an open water certificate to bachelor’s degree, and an advanced open water (which I will refer to as AOW) certificate to additional education, though something short of a master’s degree. Do you need an advanced certificate to scuba dive? No. But just like obtaining additional education, advanced certification shows that you have undergone additional training and shown capability in various diving specialties.
Carrying an AOW certification also helps dive masters gain a potential feel for a diver’s ability when they are setting up a dive shedule. Of course, carrying that advanced certification doesn’t always mean the diver carries an advanced skill set. I have been on several dive trips in which divers with AOW were among the least-skilled divers in the group.
Advanced certification requirements vary depending upon the training agency. SSI (Scuba Schools International), PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) are three of the best known training agencies and their requirements are slightly different.
In general, most AOW type courses offer speciality classes in these types of training: deep diving, drift diving, search and recovery, underwater navigation, enriched air diving, multilevel diving altitude diving, marine biology, night diving and buoyancy control.
Dave Leander, a dive instructor for Great Lakes Dive Center, 47450 Van Dyke in Shelby Township (586) 254-7670, is a member of PADI. He provides for us a breakdown of what divers have to do to earn a PADI AOW certification:
By Dave Leander
Looking for the ultimate adventure? Well, you’ve found it! The PADI’s Advanced Open Water Diver program fine tunes your dive skills and allows you to explore some of diving's top adventures. It’s your dive – go for it!
The Advanced Open Water Diver program offers you a structured program where you gain additional experience and skills under the direct guidance of a PADI professional.
PADI’s Advanced Open Water Diver program has something for everyone. This in-water, performance based program includes a total of five dives from the following list: Altitude Diver, Boat Diver, Drift Diver, Deep Diver, Dry Suit Diver, Dive Propulsion Vehicle, Multilevel Diver, Night Diver, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Search and Recovery Diver, Underwater Naturalist, Underwater Videographer, Underwater Photographer, Underwater Navigator, AWARE Fish Identification, Wreck Diver.
Locally we compile a 5 dive weekend for you to complete you PADI’s Advanced Open Water Diver program by completing the following dives from the available list above: Peak Performance Buoyancy, Underwater Navigation, Night, Deep and Search and Recovery. What better way to spend a weekend than diving and meeting new divers and logging some bottom time.
If you’re 15 or older, and a PADI Open Water Diver or equivalent, then you’re ready for the Advanced Open Water Diver program. Or, if you’re between the ages of 10 and 14, there’s the PADI Junior Advanced Open Water Diver. The Junior program is available if you hold a PADI Junior Open Water Diver or equivalent certification. Same dives and skills are required but a restricted certification because of age.
After successfully completing the course, you'll receive the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification. This allows you to participate in more advanced diving activities with a maximum recommended depth limit of 100 feet, in addition to the qualifications listed for PADI Open Water Divers.