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There are so many diving organizations in the world, a person may be wondering, what makes one better than the other? Or is there even a difference? Although all diving organizations will certify you to some degree with the most basic levels of knowledge and skills to be considered qualified as a scuba diver, there certainly are key differences when deciding which one will best benefit you.
The National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) began with a shared vision of what quality scuba training should be, with a commitment to "Dive Safety Through Education."
With NAUI you are trained to plan, develop, organize, and lead your own dives from your very first course. This means you will be trained to be self-sufficient and self-reliant, and you will NOT be trained to be "dependent" as a diver on specific types of technology, equipment, or other divers in order to dive safely. There are no stipulations or caveats with NAUI certifications. Your training will provide you with the confidence, skills, knowledge, and ability to independently dive safely from day one.
NAUI maintains a global reputation as the best in training and education, and this is a direct reflection of NAUI's core values of quality dive training through education. Many organizations choose NAUI for their diver education programs, such as the United States Department of Defense, the US military dive training schools--including the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center and the US Special Operations Command Combat Diver schools (CDQC and the SEAL teams), the US Service Academies, the Veterans Administration, Coast Guard divers, NOAA divers, NASA and the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, the National Park Service, fire departments and rescue agencies across the United States, Force Blue, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, most colleges and universities, and NPO's and NGO's and scientific programs around the world, just to name a few. This is because NAUI has long been respected for having the highest training standards in the diving industry.
In addition, NAUI is also highly regarded for Technical Dive training. NAUI’s Technical Diving Division leads the industry in the development of new dive theories and research that keeps NAUI on the cutting edge of technical diving. NAUI is the original technical diving agency, and the first to sanction Nitrox training for mainstream use. Further, NAUI is allied with the Divers Alert Network (DAN), a non-profit organization for diver's assistance, emergency medical assistance worldwide, insurance, and medical research on SCUBA diving and diving safety. This, and other partnerships and alliances, contributes to NAUI's ability to stay at the forefront of advancements, and lead the industry in dive science, medicine, practices, and techniques.
NAUI Instructors are qualified, professional educators who are granted "academic freedom" to teach diving in any reasonable manner as long as NAUI standards and policies are met. Academic Freedom is what most university curriculums and military training programs are based upon, and this policy allows NAUI Instructors the ability to meet the learning needs of each student. NAUI training support materials are designed for flexibility in teaching, and NAUI Instructors are fully authorized to exceed NAUI standards in ways that do not jeopardize student safety, in order to help them grow to become the best divers they can be. Examples include exceeding the number of minimum required open water dives or increasing academic content, both of which are highly encouraged. NAUI believes that divers should not be totally dependent upon their equipment or others for their safety, and as such, NAUI members emphasize the science and skills of diving, and further, that anyone certified as a "diver", at any level, should be able to perform the basics of a rescue of another diver. One of the things the NAUI Credo states is that it is more important to train a few students well than to certify many marginally trained divers. In this respect, NAUI believes that educational quality must never be sacrificed for economic reasons.
And finally, NAUI is its members.
NAUI's history goes back to 1950. At the time, many individuals were making home-made SCUBA units based on Jacques-Yves Cousteau's introduction of the Aqua-Lung to the market, and few knew anything about dive science or safety. Neal Hess began contributing to Skin Diver Magazine (created by Jim Auxie Jr. and Chuck Blakeslee) in the "Instructor's Corner" to help educate others as no actual dive certification agencies existed at the time outside of the military. In 1955, Al Tillman, and L.A. County lifeguard Bev Morgan, created the L.A. County Parks and Recreational Underwater Instructor Certification Course (1UICC) in an effort to respond to the growing number of diver training requests. It was the world's first civilian training program to certify recreational divers, and soon began granting Provisional Certification to instructors across the country. By 1959, NAUI was officially established by Hess, Chuck Blakeslee, Jim Auxier, and Al Tillman. It was formalized as a non-profit by 1960, and granted full 501c(6) status in 1971. Today, NAUI remains the world's largest and most respect Non-Profit Diver Educational Organization. NAUI members are known and respected all across the industry for the quality of their teaching, concern for the individual student, and safety awareness. To this day, NAUI members remain a real Association of Members who share common values and a trust in one another’s commitment to this motto. And finally, NAUI even maintains full CE and ISO certifications as well.
NAUI certifications are respected and recognized worldwide, and to earn a certification as a NAUI diver is to know you have received the best education and training in the industry.