PADI Basic Scuba Diver

Basic Scuba Diver PADI card examples and explaination

Basic Scuba Diver History

There were two entry-level PADI certifications prior to 1987 — Basic Scuba Diver and Open Water Diver. A Basic Scuba Diver met the course knowledge development and confined water performance requirements of Open Water Diver training, but the course required only two open Water scuba training dives. Some skills, such as the controlled emergency swimming ascent and buddy breathing ascent, may not have been demonstrated in open Water as part of the course.

Because the Basic Scuba Diver course was discontinued more than 20 years ago, some dive centers and resorts are not familiar with the certification. In fact, some confuse the Basic Scuba Diver certification with the current PADI Scuba Diver certification.

Scuba Diver and Basic Scuba Diver

Scuba Diver is a pre-entry level certification that allows divers to dive with a PADI Professional to a depth no greater than 12 metres/40 feet. This restriction is printed on the certification.

Basic Scuba Diver certification cards are either paper or laminated in plastic . Divers who replace their Basic Scuba Diver cards receive modern plastic cards with Basic Scuba Diver clearly printed on the front.

Basic Suba Diver certification card

Basic Scuba Diver Upgrade to Open Water Diver

Most Basic Scuba Divers have upgraded to Open Water Diver, it’s necessary for these divers to continue their education. However, if you  get a request to upgrade a Basic Scuba Diver to Open Water Diver the process is quite easy.

#1 Conduct a PADI Scuba Review program, re-mediating knowledge and skills as necessary.

#2 Conduct  dives 3 and 4 from the Open Water Diver course, including the controlled emergency swimming ascent skill (CESA).

#3 Submit a PIC envelope for an Open Water Diver certification card using a paper or online PIC.

7 Replies to “PADI Basic Scuba Diver”

  1. Interesting info.
    I got certified in 1977 and have a Basic Scuba Diver Certification, but we actually did tons of stuff that don’t seem to be required in modern day Open Water classes.
    Some examples ….

    “Hell Night” where we had to remain underwater until tank was down 100 psi no matter what challenge was thrown at us — including the instructor removing the regulator and forcing us to breath direct from the tank using a cracked valve and cupped hand technique.

    Dead Man floats for 3 hours

    Free ascents in ocean from 100 feet with all gear removed.

    And much more.

    This might be because is was way back in 1977 and the instructor was an ex- Navy Seal Diver who may have tossed in some extra stuff that was not required by PADI itself

    1. Similar training for me. Smokey Roberts was my instructor. Use to be a big time camera operator. Also ex-navy seal. Was tough as nails – made sure no one passed his courses unless they were 100% ready. Washed out at least 20% of his classes. That was also back when you memorized your tables and had to show your math.

  2. I was certified as a basic scuba diver in 1973. We used j-valves. No psi gauge, you had 300 psi left when the main air was out. We also had free ascent w/o equipment or mask. Buddy breathing ascent with one regulator. Also had to don all equipment including mask at the bottom of the pool 12 ft. Deep.

  3. I got my cert in 1979. Both 12′ pool and open water checkouts were much more rigorous than today.
    Had to tread water with hands out of water for 20 mins, no fins (that was a killer). Instructors would come up behind us, pull our masks off to flood them, sneak up behind to shut off air. Masks blacked out with tape for entire pool dive, while taking off equipment at bottom. Instructor would turn off tank valve and we’d remove regulator. Then had to re-acquire equipment, turn on valve, purge regulator and then put the harness back on. Wanted to wash out those that would panic and shoot to the surface.

    In cold spring-fed quarry in April (full wet suit, mittens, hood)…did the full buddy breathing ascent with one regulator – no octopus back then. Also did a free ascent using air out of horse collar BCD.

    Still have my basic scuba diver card – still use it on all my dives. Dive Masters love to see it.

  4. I still have my original, as well as the new version of the card, just because the one issued in ’77 doesn’t look too much like I do today.

    It is hard for a lot of newer instructors and divers to wrap their head around what many of us went through to get our “Basic” card, back then. Back in the day, it was a well respected rating. Now days, ignorant people ask, “Didn’t you ever finish your training?”.

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