PADI Divemaster? Specialities? Why not both and how to find the good ones!

PADI Divemaster? Specialities? Why not both and how to find the good ones!

I did have many discussions before about Specialities or better said PADI specialities. I always got mixed responses. Some do say it was not worth the money and you do it anyways on your IDC later. The others say it was the best course in their life and they learned something valuable about diving which made them better Divemasters, Instructors or just divers.

I asked myself why two completely different answers? For myself I had high quality courses and I did about 12 Specialities on user level myself. Maybe I was always lucky to have a good Instructor who not only taught me up to standards but went beyond that.

I know those specialities don’t come cheap and are more viewed as add-ons for the public. But in my opinion to become a better, safer and more knowledgeable diver you need to go beyond the standard Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue and then Divemaster routine. 

To get a better Idea you first want to understand what a so called speciality actually is. All PADI specialities are designed to learn different diving techniques, handle different or advanced equipment, or just gain more knowledge in a spefic area like conservation. Those Specialities are giving you the tools, they are not creating professional divers. If anything then the ocean is teaching us how to become more experienced. 

If you use for example a Sidemount harness, you can not expect to be super comfortable with the equipment after the course. Every experienced Sidemount diver will tell you that they are still adjusting their harness after a hundred dives. Also every Divemaster or Instructor with 2000 dives is still working on their buoyancy.

The Speciality is just showing what technique to use. You will know how to safely set up and adjust your Sidemount gear but you will be better and better by the dives you are doing out there in the ocean. Same with a Peak Performance Buoyancy spec, it shows you different techniques for weight checking, breathing, trim and positioning however it’s the diver who will figure out what works best after a couple of dives same like it takes some time to understand which equipment works best for the individual and that might take a few jackets 🙂

But how to figure out which Speciality to do when? Of course it can be done any time. So if you read this as a Rescue diver and think that would be something for me. Then go ahead and do it as you are already hooked.

  • PADI Open Water Diver with 4 dives:
    • Peak Performance Buoyancy: Right after getting the basics in. You should do a few fun dives and start your PPB to get your breathing under control and learn how to distribute weights and streamline your complete equipment. This also makes you look cool and more pro underwater. Looking cool is all about being streamlined and starting to get your buoyancy to the peak underwater same like on the safety stop.
    • Fish ID: Many people told me this is a useless course. Hey for myself starting of diving as a mountain boy I didn’t had any clue about fishes. Again here you won’t learn all the 24.000 different species but you will learn how to identify different species and families by knowing different shapes, size, colour, marking and fins. After the course you are fully prepared to go out there and start identifying which is a great asset for after the fun dives to understand and log your fishes.
    • Equipment specialist: to be honest right after the Open Water Course most people are happy to know the difference inbetween an SPG and LPI. This Course enables them not only to gain more knowledge about their equipment but also to solve small problems. As it is a dry course you can do that on the last day of your holiday when you can’t dive anyways.
  • PADI Advanced Open Water around 30 dives:
    • Nitrox: this course should be done in my opinion once you start going deeper and doing multiple dives. Always a little misconception is that you dive longer, which is certainly not true as you will always need the same volume of air. In nitrox there is only a bigger amount of Oxygen  (usually 32% or 36%) which reduces the Nitrogen load hence less build up. This enables you to stay longer on certain depts and shortens your surface intervals as you don’t have to get rid of that much Nitrogen. A very valuable course because it gets you into basic partial pressure theory. Also a lot will be learnt here about physiology. Decompression Sickness, Nitrogen Narcosis, CNS O2 Toxicity, Pulmonary O2 Toxicity and how to deal with the situation. 
    • Deep: If taught right this course is not only there to teach you to dive to 40 meters. For me Nitrox and Deep are bringing you closer to limits. Most of my students who where trained in other locations came into this course with this beautiful brand new D4i computer around their wrist. The majority knew how to access the log book and that it shows you your depth time and safety stop. You will learn a lot about Decompression theory, and establish a broader understanding about Nitrogen loading, O2 toxicity, buoyancy loss, volume in and decrease and most importantly how to avoid them all in order to execute a proper deep div safely.

After those you got the fundamentals and you should be ready to get into whatever gets you going! Either Night, Drift, Wreck, Search and Recovery, Conservation specialities like Dive against debris, Coral Reef Conservation, Shark Aware. Or you are more the technical diver and get into different equipment like Sidemount, Advanced Sidemount or full face Mask. The possibilities here are endless.

  • PADI Rescue or PADI Divemaster with 100 dives
    • You might think experienced divers like Rescue or Divemster won’t need any Speciality training anymore?! Wrong in the end it always makes you a safer and more knowledgeable diver. 
    • Self Reliant: This not as many people think a speciality for people without friends. No it acually teaches you on how to be an even safer buddy. But yes it teaches you how to rely on yourself with a back up air, spare mask and computer. You will also learn hot to completly check and calculate your air consumption in liters according to depth. A Quite demanding course for some but very valuable.
    • Technical diving: Even if you are not interested going deeper then 40 meters the PADI Tec rec 40 brings you to 40 meters with Decompression dives. This was one of the best courses I did to gain more knowledge about the risks of diving and by the way it was a lot of fun.
    • Free diving: Understanding the effects of Oxygen and CO2 is a bit technichal and good to know. But this course enlargens your abilities as a human being. Within the first few hours you will be able to hold your breath for 1 or 2 minutes with a few simple tricks.

After all those courses you can truely call yourself a Master Scuba Diver and perhaps also a Divemaster. But what matters the most is that you are a well knowledgable Diver who is loving what he is doing. Same here for me even after 12 Year of diving I’m still doing courses in order to get better and understand a bit more about this magical underwater world

Find out more about our specialities „PADI dive Specialities

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