This was developed as part of an argument I had with a dive master. There has been a trend in open water diving classes (and diving education in general) to ease the requirements needed to certify the diver. Years ago the basic OW class was very extensive and took weeks or months to complete. Today OW classes can be completed in two days. Many, including myself, would argue that a diver cannot be adequately trained to safely dive in an open water environment in only two days. So, why the change? Well my guess is it is all about market pressures. The prospective diver generally has no clue what skills are required to dive safely and to enjoy diving so many times they will seek the out the shortest (and cheapest) class they can find (if this were not the case, there would be no market for the two day class). The local dive shops, in order to remain in business, must offer increasingly easier, shorter and cheaper classes by going with the agency that at the time offers the shortest class. If a shop decides to hold out, they will lose business to the shop that doesn't. That market pressure then goes up the supply chain to the agencies. If agency #1 doesn't offer a two day program, they will lose share to agency #2 that does. There is really no blame to assess here as the free market defines the programs and it is the people who have no idea the requirements of OW diving that are the consumers and thus drivers of the market forces. So, as an experienced diver, I will do what I can to give the prospective divers the knowledge they need to demand a class that will allow them to dive safely and enjoy the sport. I took my open water class from a university program. The agency that program used is irrelevant. As I recall, the program consisted of 15 hours of lecture and 21 hours in the pool. I'm not a dive professional so I can't speak to the current minimum requirements but I believe a standard program today is less than 10 hours in the pool. For the pre-certified, not being certified as a professional (e.g. dive master or instructor) does not mean that I am less experienced or have had less training than a professional. It simply means I've decided to go a different route in my diving education (of which there are many), not the route that is required for me to teach others. Anyway IMHO, ten hours is simply not enough for the average new diver to learn and practice all the skills they need to become comfortable with their gear or their environment. This has led to time spent on a specific skill to be reduced or the skill virtually eliminated all together. These sacrificed skills often show up later as new classes. For example (and I'm not trying to pick on any specific agencies), SSI has two specialty classes, one for boat diving and another for shore/beach diving. Makes me wonder what kind of diving the newly carded OW diver was doing prior to taking these specialties. Shouldn't the material from both of these classes been covered in the basic scuba class? PADI has a class called Peak Performance Buoyancy. Despite the word "peak" in the title, it is designed to teach you the all important skill of being able to maintain a depth in the water column using your breathing and your buoyancy compensator. Again, this is a skill that many would say should be expected of anyone entering the water and indeed is critical to that persons enjoyment of diving (can't have fun riding a bike if you keep fallling off). Here is what happens quite frequently to the diver who got a rush certification. He spends $200 on the class, another $200 (or quite a bit more) for the basic set of gear and gets his OW card. If the dive shop is lucky, he then buys the rest of his gear (say another $1500, again it could be significantly more). Why is that so fortunate that he went ahead and got the rest of his gear versus renting for a while? Well, because there is a very good chance the diver will soon drop out of the sport because after that first vacation for which he took his certification, he decided it really wasn't for him and here's why: he was nervous on the boat going out to the site. He was anxious getting in the water. He had a hard time descending. Once down his mask kept flooding and he was having a hard time clearing it - salt water stings. He couldn't keep from bumping against the reef (and getting stung in the process). Finally he found that he was unable to maintain his safety stop depth and spent the entire 3 mins swiming straight down to compensate for the air he neglected to vent from his BC. The point is diving, like many sports, isn't much fun unless you've been given the skills to do properly and those skills can't be learned in two days. If they could, we wouldn't see the drop out rate we're seeing today (if every diver certified stuck with it, there would a year long wait-list for a spot on the boat). For the divers that do manage to stick with it, they will either need to struggle with a good number of dives or drop money on all the speciality classes that weren't even needed before OW became what it is today. So please, spend the money now, take the longest class you can find or risk joining the crowd making room in their closet for the gear they'll never use again. To all the experienced divers on this board who see a serious problem with the continual relaxing of standards, please help me resurrect the market for eight week classes. Based on my experience with this board, I know the kind of arguments this post is going to generate. People will argue that today's standards are adequate. People will argue that it's all agencies so-and-so's fault or blame it on the instructors or blame it on the prospective divers as they should know better. I don't want to get into a debate as I'm still tired from the last one I had that I mentioned earlier so I'm going to do my best to simply not reply. This whole thing is nothing more than my opinion formed by what I've observed in the lakes, the oceans and the caves. And we all know what opinions are like.