SSI Level 1 Diver Open Water Diver Certification Program





The SSI Level 1 Open Water Diver Program

Hi, I’m Niki and one of the Instructors at Scuba Schools of America as well as the Store Manager and Travel Specialist. I am excited to have you visiting our website and considering our facility as the place for you, a friend or a loved one to learn to dive! So, rather than a long, rambling monologue, how about a dialog filled with useful information and with the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions? Good! I’m glad you’re onboard!

First and most importantly, THANK YOU for your interest in our Open Water Educational Program! Scuba Schools of America prides itself on employing only the most professional, fully-insured and dedicated SSI Scuba Instructors on our teaching staff. Not only do we pride ourselves on our commitment to teaching the fundamentals of safe scuba, we fully maintain the ideology of QUALITY not QUANTITY when it comes to teaching new students the basics for exploring the world of inner space!

How is that reflected in our program? Great question! Well, to begin with, this program is NOT based on the idea of getting students certified in a weekend! Surprised?! You shouldn’t be! We are a professional scuba diving school, not a sporting goods store. Think about it: what are we spending four to six weeks, as a minimum teaching, that other agencies or operations are hoping you’ll pick up in a weekend or two? That’s right; we spend on an average, four to six weeks with students electing to take part in a group class (as opposed to a Private or Executive Program class). Students come in once per week for approximately 3 hours and participate in both a lecture session and a pool session. The idea here is that we’ll talk about the information covered in the book for that week, discuss safe diving behaviors and skills, and then go into the pool and utilize that information by having students take a hands-on approach to demonstrating the skills. Furthermore, we aren’t interested in just getting you a certification card and sending you on your way. Instead, it is our utmost goal for you to have the best possible experience with scuba diving, making this an activity that you’ll enjoy for years to come. We feel that by giving you the skills and confidence you need to efficiently and effectively scuba dive anywhere in the world you’ll be a better buddy, an all-around safer diver and will truly appreciate this incredible world we explore while diving!

Additionally, our heated, on-site, salt water pool is open for practice sessions every day with the exception of Sundays, when we’re out diving. As a student or past student, you can use our pool, all of the training equipment and air fills whenever you’d like, forever, and it is always FREE. That’s right, no “renting” the pool to practice, no hidden additional fees for maintenance or anything else. Simple. Safe. Free. This goes hand in hand with our commitment to maintaining QUALITY. Whether you are diving off the beach, at Catalina or on the other side of the world, we want to ensure that you’ll be confident in your abilities and proud of the level of quality education you possess, which will be directly reflected in your behaviors while diving.

Okay, so that may be all fine and good, but what about the staff you’ll encounter in the store, pool or on one of our boats or vacation trips? Well, for one, every teaching professional is fully licensed and insured. One of the phenomenal things about being an SSI (that’s Scuba Schools International, the largest retail dive association in the world- there are 27 altogether!) Store/School is that each and every Instructor, Assistant Instructor or Divecon must be officially tied to the facility. What does this mean to you? There is a massive system of checks and balances in place to where, not only the Store/School, but also SSI is monitoring the way we do things and exactly how the program is taught. This gives you, the diver, an additional sense of security in knowing that the highest level of customer satisfaction and attention to detail will be maintained by every member of our staff. You’ll receive the same level of courteous, knowledgeable staff on any local or international trip as well, guaranteed!

This sounds great, but what does it cost? Well, realistically what it costs to become a diver isn’t just the tuition. Scuba is an equipment-intensive activity and, unless you can hold your breath for 45 minutes (not recommended☺), you need some type of equipment to keep you alive! While we do NOT require you to purchase your life support system, there are items that we require each diver to have, many due to obvious sanitary reasons. On the average, you can expect a minimum of $400-$600 to be somewhat equipped. Also, this equipment is the student’s to keep, allowing them to have their own high quality personal equipment. As I stated earlier, at SSA, we want you to become a diver not for a season or a single reason (i.e. a vacation), but for a lifetime! It is for this reason that we provide all of the rental life support equipment FREE for you to use in our classes, pool sessions and unlimited numbers of practice sessions throughout your time here as a student, as well as for the rest of your life! The ONLY time you will ever pay for training equipment is when it is taken out to the ocean. Additional to the personal equipment that you will own after the program is completed, you’ll have possible rental equipment costs, should you choose to be a rental diver at the time of your certification dives and, should you choose to complete certification off of a boat, the associated boat fees.

What’s the difference between beach diving and boat diving? REALLY great question! If you have spent any time in California and have visited one of our beaches, what do you see and hear as you walk through the sand on the way down to the water’s edge? Exactly- WAVES! As a diver, you need to get beyond these waves in order to get out to the dive sites. Beach dives are incredibly more arduous than boat dives. Dealing with parking, humping your equipment across the sand and then fighting your way out beyond the breakers is a lot of work! All while wearing a fully-loaded system! What’s more is that the churning of sand and silt caused by the waves makes for low visibility while diving from the beach. There typically is not a large amount of plant life present and marine animals don’t tend to want to be in areas of low visibility as that could increase their chances of becoming another animal’s dinner! So, there certainly is not as much to see and getting through the waves to get there is quite the workout! Once your dive is completed, you are now tired, still need to get back through those breakers and across the sand and now have a bunch of nitrogen running through your body! The least favorable time for us to work hard is at the end of or immediately after a dive, when our risks for decompression sickness are greatest. This is where boat diving comes in! While I don’t want to say that our divers are “foo-foo” in any way, they do like their cookies and ice cream! Joking aside, our boats offer great customer service, with crew members helping to carry your gear from the car down to the boat! The boats offer the ability for us to visit one of the local Southern Channel Islands that are literally teeming with marine plant and animal life. You get a safer, well-controlled, easier day of diving complete with calm, clear, beautiful water! That alone is reason enough to join us on one of our local boat trips, but they also offer 3 dives during the scheduled diving day, breakfast, lunch, air fills the trip to whatever island we’re visiting and the instructor’s time for the day! Not bad, we think! Our local boat trip pricing varies depending on where we are going and for how long as we also do fun-filled weekend trips that allow you to complete your certification dives in one weekend and see a varied set of dive sites along the way!

Okay, so let’s say I get certified…..then what?! I love this question, and I get it all the time! We have so many customers that come in worried about being a number or perhaps being forgotten after certification. Let me put your fears to rest and remind you that we teach with the ever present philosophy that QUALITY is vastly more important than QUANTITY! When you come through the program you will see firsthand that we spend as much time as each individual student needs to complete the program and succeed at becoming a safe, efficient and confident scuba diver. Even in a group class, we understand that everyone learns and grows comfortable with such a foreign environment at different rates, and we respect and appreciate that! Trust me when I tell you that you’ll see that we have divers from every walk of life, from every industry and with every personality! I always am saying to new divers that scuba is the one place where, literally, everyone fits in! So, why wouldn’t that continue on after certification?! It does! From our women’s only dive and social club (yes, non-diver friends, girlfriends, wives, etc. are welcome!) called the W.I.N.O.S. (Women In Need Of Scuba – – – or Sanity!) to our chapter of SSI’s Club Aquarius, we pride ourselves on keeping divers active and always intrigued with the underwater world that we’re keen to explore. You don’t just get your card and leave, never hearing from us again – most of our dearest friends went through classes at the store. By spending time, it’s likely you’ll LOVE scuba and you’ll fit right in, so why wouldn’t you become fast friends with the rest of us here at SSA?! Trust me, this shop is like going to an old friend’s house, in fact, we have customers that come by to eat lunch and smell the neoprene on a very regular basis!

So, very long-winded explanation short, come by, meet us and let’s talk scuba! There is absolutely nothing to lose besides 15 minutes of your time, but you really do have EVERYTHING to gain!

More questions I didn’t quite answer for you? Call the store at 888-99-SCUBA or email me directly at Can’t wait to meet you!

Copyright © Scuba Schools of America 2015

4420 Holt Blvd. Montclair, CA 91763