Diver Grades

BSAC has been training people to dive since the early 1950s. During this time the Diver Training Programme has been regularly updated and improved to keep pace with developments in equipment and diving knowledge. The programme is designed to build confidence and self-reliance, whilst keeping safety uppermost. From beginner to experienced, BSAC provides a full training programme that enables divers to progress through a framework of qualifications at their own pace.

There are five internationally-recognised BSAC diver grades, from the entry level Ocean Diver through to the highest grade, First Class Diver.

Ocean Diver

An instructor with trainee

An instructor with trainee

This course provides the beginner with the essential knowledge and skills to prepare them for open water diving. The course teaches them how to use diving equipment properly and safely, initially in a swimming pool (which takes 8 – 12 sessions), before introducing the trainee to the open water environment in a controlled and safe manner. Ocean diver candidates will be afforded the opportunity to practise safety skills and drills in the company of a qualified instructor or experienced diver. There is also a theory element to the qualification, which can now be completed on line. Ocean divers are qualified to dive to a maximum depth of 20m.

Sports Diver

In Sports diver training the emphasis is very much on building a sound foundation of open water diving skills and experience through a series of structured practical lessons. Once this open water experience has been gained to the satisfaction of the Branch Diving officer and the Sports Diver certification has been obtained, the newly qualified sports diver will have developed the required skills to take part in open water dives with other Sports Divers or those with higher grades. Depth can be built progressively to a maximum of 35m after qualifying. Sports Divers can embark on the first stage of the route to becoming an instructor, and train as Assistant Diving Instructors.

Dive Leader

Dive marshal at work

Dive Manager at work

Dive Leader training concentrates on the responsibilities and safety aspects of leading other divers on an open water dive. This programme places much emphasis on the development of rescue management skills and techniques with the aim of equipping candidates with the confidence and ability to deal with unforeseen emergencies, as well as the experience to lead less experienced divers in an open water environment. Depth can be built progressively to a maximum of 50m after qualifying. Dive Leaders are eligible to progress to Open Water Instructor.

Advanced Diver

The Advanced Diver course further develops candidates diving knowledge and skills. Much emphasis is placed on the development of the skills required to successfully plan and organise dives at different sites and under challenging circumstances. Additional experience will be gained in the use of small boats, chart work, navigation and many other related skills. BSAC considers this grade as being a fully trained diver. Advanced Divers are eligible to progress to Advanced Instructor.

First Class Diver

The BSAC’s highest diving grade which requires a higher than average level of theoretical knowledge, organisational and personal diving skills. The First Class Diver award is the culmination of a number of years diving experience, and since BSAC was founded in 1953 there are still fewer than 1,000 divers who have qualified at this grade. BSAC First Class Divers are assessed through nationally conducted examinations, and are eligible to progress to the highest BSAC instructional grade of National Instructor.