Many divers ask us when is the best time to do the 'Advanced Diver Course' and also why and if they should do it. Many people also say that the name of the course is misleading in that someone with only 9 dives can be an 'Advanced Diver' which does not really describe their experience accurately.
The Advanced diver course is known by a number of names depending on the relevant diving agency, but in general they are all pretty much the same and look to achieve the same goals.
For example with SDI it is callled the Advanced Adventure Diver course and with Padi the Advanced Open Water Diver course, both offer the same types of adventure dives.
How these points are dealt with depends on a good and normally experienced Instructor correctly explaining what the course sets out to achieve and where it lies within the dive experience of each individual going forward.
The course is designed to give divers experiences of different types of diving, to continue their interest and love of diving and to give them some form of depth progression. The trick is not to treat all Advanced Open Water divers as the same experience level and with the same maximum depth abilities, this is where the experienced Instructor or Dive Centre comes in.
For example I had a diver who completed his Open Water level course and it was clear that this individual was a natural underwater, very quick to learn, more than able and was ready for more diving adventures. He completed his Advanced Open Water course straight after with just 9 dives and dived to 29 metres. His ability was clear to see and we then encouraged him to do more dives to cement his abilities, gain more experience and to continue his love for diving. John is now a Divemaster, a Tec50 technical diver and a commercial diver. So what would he have done if I held him back at the Open Water level ?
On the other hand we have divers who come to us with only a handful of dives and fully expect just to enrol on the next course. Unfortunately in many quarters this is how the course progression is explained or sold. These divers may have not dived for 12 months or even more, or only completed their course with depths a lot less than the 18 metres maximum allowed, or who for a number of other reasons are simply just not ready to start an Advanced course. For many Dive Centres it is too easy to just take them on into another course and this is normally purely just for financial reasons. The approach should be different for each individual with their full diving experience completely understood.
Other examples includes Open Water divers who have done 10, 20 or 30 dives who are either ready or not ready. When did they last dive ? How is their buoyancy ? How well were they trained ?
Good Open Water divers know when they are ready to expand their diving experience and to go deeper too. When we have them come to dive with us and there are dive sites beyond their current depth range we will explain and recommend the Advanced Open Water diver course to be able to dive them and to gain further experience to a quality level. That is one of the key goals of teaching the course, to take a diver from their current diving level of ability and understanding to a higher level. The diver should feel that they are a much better and more knowledgeable diver as a result of completing the 'Advanced Diver' Course.
As all good dive professionals will know there is a process to follow in discussing a potential students experience and diving ability before enrolling them in the next diver level.
Then when you take 'Advanced Divers' on dives it is important to remember that the name suggests that they have completed the course, their level of advancement still needs to be understood. As mentioned before you can have the same certification level of diver who has done 9 dives or 500 dives !
The name of the course should be understood and accepted in this way, once you do that you will no longer see it as misleading.