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Master SCUBA Diver or Divemaster?

It is easy to get a bit lost in terminology. Recreational divers often don’t distinguish between the various ratings that exist and as such it can lead to a little ambiguity between two ratings in particular. I am of course, talking about Divemaster and Master SCUBA Diver. The similarities in the name are clearly obvious, they both contain the words ‘dive’ and ‘master’, they both sound very important - which they are, and they both require diving commitment to achieve. The differences however are just as great as these similarities and that is what we will be talking about as well as how to achieve each rating and what they signify.

What is a Master SCUBA Diver (MSD) and how can one achieve the rating? A Master SCUBA Diver is often referred to as the black belt of recreational diving, meaning that it is the highest rating achievable. Statistics indicate that fewer than 2% of divers ever achieve this rating which rightly makes them part of the elite. Master SCUBA Diver is not a single/one-off course that a diver would take, it is the culmination of multiple courses denoting a vast experience and skill level which is why the certification card should be respected. Becoming a Master SCUBA Diver is often something that a diver will look to achieve after having already amassed a few of the required certifications and realising that they are maybe not that far away, or it is a goal that a diver will set for themselves as a way of slowly adding to their skill set by completing a new course periodically as part of personal development and/or progression.

To achieve the rating of Master SCUBA Diver a diver must meet the following requirements;

* Be at least 12 years old (12-14 year old earn Junior MSD)

* PADI (Junior) Advanced Open Water Diver certified

* PADI (Junior) Rescue Diver certified

* Earned five (5) PADI Specialty Diver Certifications

* Logged a minimum of 50 dives

* Complete application to be a Master SCUBA Diver

As you see, a diver works their way through the core PADI courses which builds up experience and exposes them to a variety of environments. Completing five (5) PADI specialty courses allows divers to attempt different techniques and possibly try new dive gear not-before-used, like full face mask, compass, sidemount, DSMB’s, nitrox, lift bags to name a few. It does not matter which speacilty courses are completed or at what stage in a divers development because this list is a set of ‘exit requirements’. The combined knowledge and skill variation obtained from this variety of courses shows a dedication to diving and an investment in ones self which is why it sits at the top of the pile in the recreational diver credentials. For these reasons, Master SCUBA Divers are also privy to PADI promotions otherwise reserved for professionals. They relieve the publications and exclusive offers in areas like PADI Travel so it is not without it's perks.

So how does this differ from Divemaster? For many, the main reason to become a Divemaster is to earn a professional rating which allows you to look for work within the diving industry and benefit financially from diving. If one is not interested in this then