Diver Grades - all you need to know
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. In the last few months, BSAC has been changing the way they present courses, so a lot of the theory is now on line (Ocean Diver, Sports Diver and Dive Leader for now), and qualification sign off is via the BSAC mobile phone app, making life much easier for everyone!
Traditionally the Ocean Diver course was the first qualification for new BSAC trained divers, as it provides the beginner with the essential knowledge and skills to prepare them for open water diving. Now however there are two additional qualifications, the Discovery Diver and the Advanced Ocean diver.
The course teaches them how to use diving equipment properly and safely, initially in a swimming pool (which takes 6 – 8 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. Once the theory and practical elements have been completed, a qualified ocean diver is qualified to dive to a maximum depth of 20m.
The two new qualifications are the Discovery Diver, an interim qualification, that equates to about half of the Ocean Diver modules. The second qualification is the Advanced Ocean Diver which is see as a new modular qualification, supporting qualified Ocean Diver’s transition to Sports Diver qualification. As a club, we will happily qualify you to the interim qualifications, but our general aim will be to run a full Ocean Diver course, then a Sports Diver Course as standard.
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. There is still a theory element for this qualification, and it can be done via eLearning. Once the theory and practical open water experience has been gained to the satisfaction of the Branch Diving officer the Sports Diver certification can be awarded. At this stage, 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 40m 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 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.
Dive Leader trainees are also encouraged to organise and manage some club dives. As much help and support as required will be given by the more experienced members of the club. Depth can be built progressively to a maximum of 50m after qualifying. Dive Leaders are eligible to progress to Open Water Instructor..
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.