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ME: I don't know if I want to go with SSI or NAUI for my classes.
LDS: Well, everything is the same so you can take the class then decide if you want SSI, NAUI or both if you want to pay for both cards.
ME: Are they owned/opperated by the same company?
LDS: I don't think so.
ME: I've never heard this before
LDS: Is it the same material for both?
LDS: Not really.
Who can help me out with some info here?
I'm thinking it was a misunderstanding because it was the newest employee there. Then again, Maybe they were right.
I believe their instructor must hold ratings from both NAUI and SSI so can certify through either agency. Many instructors with dual agency affiliations blend their course so that it meets the standards of both, meaning that the student can opt for one, the other, or even both. You should speak with the instructor personally to find out more.
I hadn't ever heard of this until I was doing tech certifications. My instructor held ratings with multiple agencies and offered the same thing since classes were taught to a higher standard than any of them so I qualified for any of the cards. It was posed as more of a value add service to suit whatever potential bias I had versus "here have one from each". Whereas I didn't necessarily care, I believe I was issued whichever agency he had the fewest certifications with as that helped him out in some way.
I wouldn't worry about it too much - at the end of the day the agencies aren't all that different - and the differences are nuances that only the instructor types really understand.
After teaching both PADI and SSI, I can say that those two agencies have pretty much the same mantra: teach minimum skills and promote gear ownership and continued education. As always, the the instructor/student relationship makes or breaks the course.
I assume we're talking about the basic Open Water diver course?
Each agency has its own training materials and specifics as to how they do things. Yes, either SSI or Naui will, I believe, cover much the same content for an OW course, but some of the specifics will vary a bit.
The main advantage to picking one agency over another that leaps to my mind would be someone ambitious to become an instructor who wants maximum familiarity with the target agency's materials (though some would say training under different agencies might give you a more diverse background to draw on).
Sad commentary on the lack of knowledge of some LDS employees. I was diving with an outfit whose instructor was from Los Angeles. He asked to see my c-card and I showed him my ancient, battered (paper) Los Angeles County c-card. He had no clue what it was and had me do a check-out dive.
As pointed out, instructors with ratings from multiple agencies can indeed offer certification under more than one... but why?