The Dive Otter

Specialty Classes - Which ones?

There are really no classes that are absolutely a must. There are a several I think would be useful to you. Some that are interesting. And then the rest are likely a waste of time or money. I will eventually take most all the classes that are not meh, cause I'm nutz and have nothing better to do.

For now...let's break them all down....

*Links to SDI Training Standard as example where possible
ClassOpinionTakenWhy?
NitroxYes Please
Good for AOW
Yes10s of thousands of divers never dive with Nitrox. But more and more places will provide Nitrox for free when you rent a tank from them...so you should. One of the cheaper and easier classes to take and you do learn a little bit about gas science.
Science of Diving
(SSI Specific)
Yes Please
Good for AOW
YesSuper interesting and a deep dive into the science parts of diving. It's also a prerequisite for some of the higher levels. The best theoretical class I have taken so far. Loved it.
React Right
(SSI Specific)
Yes Please
Good for AOW
YesHow to identify, react and manage an incident. Usually coupled with CPR, AED and O2 delivery class.
Rescue DiverYes PleaseYesPut everything together and do some actual emergency scenario practice
DrysuitYes PleaseYesAssuming you have or are getting a drysuit you really should get training. You screw this up and you can either die (suit squeeze) or have a really really bad day (feet first ascent)
Wreck DivingInterestingYesGood intro to the proper use of reels and a couple other tricks. Great way to get your first Lake Michigan wreck dive. It might be required if you want to take the Advanced Wreck Diving class in the technical track
Deep DivingInteresting
Good for AOW
ScheduledNot technically needed, but if you feel apprehensive about going deeper than 60ft...you can have an instructor with you for your first couple times down near the compressed air narcosis zone. There is an argument to be made regarding "not diving beyond your training" that could change your mind into making this MUST DO
NavigationInteresting
Good for AOW
YesLearn how to use a compass and some other underwater tricks. A good pick if you need a class to get your Advanced Open Water certification or you know you will be doing a lot of shore diving.
Diver Propulsion VehicleInterestingEventuallyI mean come on...who doesn't want to zoom around underwater without actually owning a DPV?! But you don't need the class to rent/buy one if you have that kind of cash. But you probably won't be using it properly or in a safe manner.
Search & RecoveryInterestingEventuallyI want to go find golf balls, lost drones and help my neighbor find his lost glasses in the pond. Absolutely!
Solo/Self-Reliant DiverInterestingEventuallyLearn about pony bottles and redundancy and being "self-reliant"...I won't ever be solo diving, but it is an interesting course to be sure.
Ice DiverInterestingHell. No.I'd probably freeze to death during the class...but if this is your jam...for love of all things holy...get some training. Frozen water is no joke.
Night & Limited VisNo Thanks
Good for AOW
YesOnly really interesting if you are nervous in the dark or murky waters. Here in the Chicagoland...we dive in murky waters from day 1 so not real useful as a skill heavy class.
Advanced BuoyancyMehNoAfter you have 50 dives under your belt, if you still feel like you need help...then take this class and make damn sure it's from an instructor who has perfect trim themselves
Equipment SpecialistMehYesSame stuff you learned in OW class, they just use more words.
Advanced Adventure
(This is a "package")
MehNoThis is intended to give you a taste of a few of the specialty classes. Just take the specialty class itself!
Altitude DivingMehNoThere are certain additional risks given the change in pressure that comes with altitude, but extremely rare thing for most of us.
Boat DivingMehNoDon't take up too much space and do the "giant stride" they taught you in OW class. I've put together a couple tips I've learned about boat diving.
Computer DivingMehNoIf you needed a Windows or Mac class last time you bought a computer...take this class. Otherwise...read the manual.
Photo & VideoMehNoWatch some YouTube videos for free. If you want training to be better than point and shoot...then hire an actual photography person and pay for their time...not the certification course.
Drift DivingMehNoStop kicking. Stay with your buddy. Yup...you just learned to Drift Dive
Ecology ProgramsMehNoRead a book or watch youtube vidoes for free


But what about....Advanced Open Water or Master Diver....those are "levels" of diver. They are not a class. You get awarded those levels once you have taken certain classes and have a certain number of dives in your log. They are not classes you take....well sorta...Advanced Open Water is offered by many agencies immediately after Open Water training as a way to keep you progressing and them making money. I don't recommend taking the Advanced Open Water "class"....take the full specialty classes if you can afford it.