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I am making the leap from divemaster to instructor and am taking the time to consider either PADI or NAUI.
I have currently been taking PADI courses up to this point and live in Southern California where PADI is dominant. I feel NAUI may be the better choice for me, here's why:
NAUI IDC/IE is almost $1000 cheaper (total cost).
NAUI will certify me to teach from basic to DM and numerous specialties including Nitrox; PADI requires additional certifcation and cost for each specialty.
I can do NAUI without travelling far for an IE.
NAUI's tech program seems more comprehensive and developed over PADI's. (Which is a long term objective.)
There may be more flexibility for an instructor in the NAUI program (I have no specifics on this, just what I have been advsied.)
The downsides that I have considered is possibly having to take a NAUI DM exam and buying NAUI materials as my dive library has mostly PADI manuals.
I know that the quality of my instructor is most important, so assume it is the same for both organizations.
What additional insight would you have to guide my decision?
From conversations with my instructor (he's both PADI and NAUI), PADI makes the money (because it's so much more popular) but NAUI is "better" in that it is more rigorous in terms of certification requirements.
I know the "agency X > agency Y" thing doesn't usually yield good results, but income is something to consider if you're making it a profession. Why not get certified in both? If cost is a concern, do the cheaper one first, and then expand your employment potential/client base later by getting certified in the other.
I enjoyed my PADI education, and I keep mine renewed for PADI referals. I found that the PADI system makes it easy to jump in and start teaching. However, it offers very little room for you to become a "great" instructor. I found that when I crossed over to NAUI, I had more freedom and have really grown as an instructor. It really is a matter of opinion. But, a crossover isn't a bad idea. Makes yourself easier to market.
On a large pile of smokin' A'a, the most isolated population center on the face of the earth. 2,175 miles to Alaska, 2,390 miles to California; 3,850 miles to Japan; 4,900 miles to China; 5,280 miles to the Philippines.
I refuse to believe that corporations are people until Texas executes one.
"Too often ... people enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought" - Leapfrog
"They are the McDonalds of diver certification. Quick, inexpensive and tasty. Pardon me for saying so, but I also believe it to be a health hazard." - DCBC
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I have not discussed with anyone what is involved in crossing over at a later date. That may be something to consider.
Most agencies have some sort of shortened instructor course to cross over those from other agencies. If I remember correctly, my crossover to PADI was 2 1/2 days of IDC and then a weekend for the IE. And some more study and $$.
My experience was that the crossover from NAUI to PADI was VERY easy. My opinion from having worked with PADI to NAUI candidates is that the reverse is different.
I agree with Thalassamania that the LA County program is superb, very similar to NAUI's, but I think it puts you in a bit of a marketing hole.