The line between rec and tek is not all that clear. For some, diving itself is already technical, and when you add nitrox into the mix, the line becomes blurred even further; some agencies start to introduce divers to more technical diving by offering foundation courses in the use of more advanced gas blends.

So, if you want to break out of your NDLs and take your diving to the next level, there are a number of ways you can make your foray into the world of tek diving – it all depends on where you want to go with your underwater exploration, and how you want to get there.

Here are some of the entrylevel courses that will let you start extending your bottom time by making planned decompression stops. Welcome to the wonderful world of deco!

GUE Technical Diver Level 1

What it lets you do

• Become familiar with the use of different breathing and decompression mixtures
• Expand on the essential skills required for safe technical diving

Skills learnt
• Safe diving techniques
• Equipment failure procedures
• Surface marker buoy deployment
• Proficiency in switching to a backup mask
• Managing gas sharing scenarios
• Three propulsion techniques that would be appropriate in delicate, silty environments
• Proficiency with a single decompression cylinder
• Effective decompression techniques, including depth and time management
• Dive rescue techniques
• Buoyancy and trim
• Ability to manage a failed decompression cylinder using available team resources

Prerequisites
• Be a non-smoker
• Obtain a physician’s prior written authorisation for the use of prescription drugs
• Have earned a GUE Fundamentals “Technical” pass
• Minimum age 18
• Minimum of 100 logged dives beyond Open Water certification

IANTD Advanced Nitrox Diver

What it lets you do
• Qualifies you to dive to 42 metres and do decompression stops required dives up to 15 minutes
• Further develop diving skills and provide a greater understanding of the EANx concept of diving (the programme employs EANx mixes up to 1.5 PO2)

Skills learnt
• Swim 270 metres underwater in scuba gear
• Swim 15 metres in scuba gear without breathing, then gas sharing and swim 75 metres without a mask
• Remove scuba gear underwater and perform a free ascent
• Simulated emergency lift bag ascent from a depth of 15 metres, including a threeminute safety stop

Prerequisites
• Must be qualified as an IANTD EANx Diver and IANTD Deep Diver
• Minimum age 15
• Minimum of 30 logged dives

PADI Tec 40 Diver

What it lets you do
• Gain experience and begin building the skills you need to continue your tek diver training
• Qualifies you to make limited decompression dives to 40 metres

Skills learnt
• Technical diving’s risks and responsibilities
• Technical diving equipment, proper rigging, and setup
• Gas planning, oxygen limits, and decompression planning
• Team diving techniques and emergency procedures

Prerequisites*
• PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification
• PADI Enriched Air Diver certification with at least ten dives using enriched air deeper than 18 metres
• PADI Deep Diver certification with at least 10 dives to 30 metres
• Medical statement signed by a physician within the last 12 months
• Minimum age 18
• Minimum of 30 logged dives

*Note that qualifying certifications from other diver training organisations may apply – ask your PADI Tec Deep Instructor

SSI Extended Range Nitrox

What it lets you do
• Dive to 40 metres using nitrox and 15 minutes of accelerated decompression using one stage decompression gas (oxygen)
• Continue to SSI XR Extended Range and XR Limited Trimix courses

Skills learnt
• Supreme buoyancy
• Proper propulsion
• Equipment management
• Effective decompression

Prerequisites
• SSI Deep Diver certification (or qualifying certification from another organisation)
• SSI Enriched Air Nitrox Diver or qualifying prerequisite certification
• Minimum age: 18 years
• Logged 24 dives including six nitrox dives

TDI Decompression Procedures Diver

What it lets you do
• Conduct decompression diving activities without direct supervision provided the diving activities and environment approximate those of training
• Enrol in TDI Advanced Nitrox, TDI Extended Range, TDI Advanced Wreck, TDI Trimix courses

Skills learnt
• Decompression dive planning
• Decompression diving procedures
• Proper trim, buoyancy, and finning techniques
• Emergency procedures
• Equipment considerations, cylinder labelling, analysing nitrox mixtures, and gas blending procedures

Prerequisites
• Minimum certification of SDI Advanced Adventure Diver, Advanced Diver, or equivalent
• Minimum age 18
• Minimum of 25 logged open water dives

The courses here are presented in alphabetical order and are intended to show a small selection of the technical diving courses available. This is not a comprehensive list, nor an endorsement of any specific agencies. Other training agencies, such as NAUI, also offer training in technical diving procedures. The best technical diving course for you is the one that suits your needs, experience and goals.