Before we dive into this interesting topic, let's start with a non-diving example. Think of someone who loves to cook and has won cooking competitions, then think of a chef in a restaurant. Both are great at cooking and both know their way around a kitchen, the difference is the chef is doing it professionally and people rely on them to provide an excellent meal in exchange for money. The chef will also have done a 'health and safety/clean food' training to ensure they do not accidentally poison their guests.
It's kind of the same in diving when comparing the Master Scuba Diver rating and a PADI Divemaster certification. A Master Scuba Diver has shown proficiency in diving and has a number of certifications proving his ability. A Divemaster has been trained so they are not only a great diver but are also able to look out for the safety and enjoyment of other certified divers and can expect payment for this. To put it simply, Master Scuba Diver is a recognition rating and Divemaster is a professional level.
Here's a more detailed breakdown of the differences between both of these certifications.
Master Scuba Diver
Being a PADI Master Scuba Diver puts you in an elite group since fewer than 2% divers ever achieve this level of certification, it's the black belt of scuba diving!
So what do you need to do to get it?
Be At least 12 years old (12-14-year-olds earn Junior MSD)
Be PADI (Junior) Advanced Open Water Diver certified
Be PADI (Junior) Rescue Diver certified
Be Earned five PADI Specialty Diver Certifications
Have a minimum of 50 logged dives
Have Completed and sent in the application
The PADI Master Scuba Diver is not a professional rating, it is the highest level of skill for a non-pro diver.
The PADI Divemaster is the first professional level in the PADI system and is a leadership certification. Divemasters are qualified to supervise diving activities, assist instructors in teaching courses, and guide certified divers. The prerequisites for becoming a PADI Divemaster are as follows:
Be at least 18 years old.
Hold a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification or equivalent.
Hold a PADI Rescue Diver certification or equivalent.
Hold an Emergency First Response Primary and Secondary Care (CPR and First Aid) certification within the last 24 months.
Medical clearance to dive
Have at least 40 logged dives to begin the course and 60 logged dives for certification.
Additionally, before obtaining the PADI Dive Master certification, candidates must complete the Dive Master course, which involves various training exercises, workshops, and practical applications of their diving knowledge as well as a theory segment.
What can a PADI Divemaster do?
Give dive briefings
Guide 'fun' dives ( also known as discover local diving)
Supervise training and non-training-related diving activities
Complete scuba refreshers/reviews, such as PADI ReActivate
Teach the PADI Skin Diver course and guide snorkelling tours
Assist in Discover Scuba Diving programs and lead additional dives
Obtain professional scuba diving liability insurance
Work as a scuba diving professional
What do you have to do to get this rating?
Complete the Divemaster Knowledge Development sections and then pass the Divemaster Final Exam
Complete watermanship skills, comfort exercises and a diver rescue assessment
Complete a dive skills workshop and assessment
Demonstrate practical skills, such as mapping, searches and briefings
Complete Divemaster-led program workshops,
Complete practical assessments for assisting on scuba courses
Write an Emergency Assistance Plan
Show professionalism toward other team members, guest divers and students.
Which is the best for you? Divemaster or Master Scuba Diver?
It really depends on what your ultimate goal is. If you want to become a great diver and try all sorts of different types of diving the Master Scuba Diver is for you.
If you want to have the ability to supervise other divers and potentially work in the diving industry the Divemaster course is for you. Many people do the PADI Divemaster course to hone their skills and feel more autonomous and helpful without having the ambition to work. It's a rewarding course that will allow you to do a lot of diving and learn the pros tips and tricks.
Both certifications show you are part of a small group of highly trained proficient divers.