Diver Certification

The Scientific Diver Certification is recognition status of a permit to dive at the University while it is current and for the purpose intended. The requirements are those defined by the AAUS and provide a basis for inter-organizational reciprocity.

Diver certification is at two levels – Diver-In-Training (DIT) and Scientific Diver (SD). See the AAUS Manual sections 4 & 5 for details.

The Diving Science and Safety Program (DSSP) does not provide basic scuba instruction. This can be obtained from the UF – PEN1136, or through a local dive shop. The scientific diver training options include in-house classes through DSSP, FAS 4932or use of other classes provided by local resources. All of the necessary paperwork and forms for completion of an application for scientific diver are to be found under Forms.

For reciprocity purposes the Dive Safety Officer will provide a certification form/letter to any other organization with whom one wished to do research diving. The adherence to AAUS standards will be sufficient for many universities, aquariums, and NOAA. However, in recognition of the relatively benign conditions under which the University works, some projects may require additional proof of competency to cope with environmental conditions and or new or different equipment.

To facilitate UF scientific diver compliance with the Diving Science and Safety Program (DSSP) accreditation requirements, the following GUIDELINES are provided. Approval for participation in scientific diving is based on criteria established by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS).

DSSP Diver Classification Level

Scientific Diver

Diver meets 100 hour training criteria w/12 additional dives. (AAUS section 5) A checkout dive will be required if not previously completed at the time of classification as a DIVER-IN-TRAINING, or via reciprocity from another research diving program.


A new diver (openwater scubadiver with 5 open water dives) who has not met the 100 hour training rule. Individual has had a check out dive (in accordance with AAUS Standards Section 4.20) conducted or approved by the Diving Science and Safety Program. Individuals qualified at the DIVER-IN-TRAINING level must dive with an ACTIVE scientific DIVER at all times.

Visiting Diver

Diver certified through reciprocity from another scientific diving program.

Volunteer Diver

Will be classified under DSSP requirements.

DSSP Status Level


Diver has current medical examination with no contraindications for diving; has current certification in First Aid, O2 Administration, and CPR; has had their equipment serviced within last 12 months;and has logged the minimum of 12 dives within theprevious 12 months (at least one dive near their maximum depth certification limit each 6 months).


Diver has one or more deficiencies, i.e., medical examination has expired, CPR O2 provider, or First Aid is not current, or has not maintained the 12 dives per year activity level.


Diver has let medical examination expire for a two year period beyond required update and/or has not maintained minimum dive frequency of 12 dives per year for a two year period. It is assumed that an INACTIVE diver is no longer involved in research that includes diving and his record will be retired. Reconsideration for ACTIVE dive status may require refresher training and a skills/academic evaluation.


Special limitations are imposed on diving activities in which the diver may participate, e.g., restrictions due to the diver’s medical status or questionable skills.


Students participating in a scientific class which includes a onetime field experience in diving. Students will complete the dive history, liability waiver, medical history and provide a copy of their certification cards. They will complete a confined water skills check and a written evaluation of diving academics. A physical examination may be required at the Diving Safety Officer’s discretion. CPR/First Aid certification will be waived providing that there are two CPR certified divers on the crew (i.e., Divemaster and one other).

Training Requirements

The 100 hours training requirement for SCIENTIFIC dive level can be customized to the needs of each diver. All training shall include an openwater certification by a recognized dive training agency. This introductory skills training typically would be a 40-hour course that includes four to five openwater dives. In addition, current certification in First Aid, O2, and CPR shall be maintained. It is recommended that divers consider an Advanced SCUBA (extension of the basic openwater training) and a Rescue course in their training schedule. Additional training can be selected from any number of areas. Credit will be given on a case-by-case basis following review of the particular training provided.

To complete the 100 hour training requirement, divers must have logs showing at least 12 hours of bottom time in research.

Listed below are examples of the typical credit hours that might be assigned for training. It is recognized that the training provided by different agencies will be presented under a variety of titles and student-instructor contact hours. Every effort will be made to recognize an appropriate designation of credit hours to be applied to the diver’s record.

Table I: Example of Training Hours Credited for 100 Hour Requirement



 Openwater  40
 Advanced  12
 Master Diver  30
 First Aid  4
 Oxygen Management  4
 Blood Borne Pathogens 1
 Rescue  15
 Divemaster/Assistant Instructor  15
 Instructor  30
 Cavern  16
 Cave  16 to 32
 Rebreather  20
 Hyperbaric Chamber Attendant  16
 Drysuit Techniques  8
 Surface Supplied Air (KMB)  8
 Nitrox/Mixed Gas Workshop  4-8
 Underwater Photography