AAUS Scientific Diving Instructor Program

The AAUS Scientific Diving Instructor (ASDI) program is expanding for 2023 and will now begin taking applications from all current Diving Safety Officers and Instructors who are working under the auspices of and authorized by an AAUS Organizational Member. The evolution of our organization as an independent certification agency allows those Instructors to hold their credentials to teach Scientific Diving with AAUS alone.

Since 1999, AAUS has required Instructor credentials from a nationally recognized agency for recognition as a DSO or instructor at an Organizational Member institution.  In 2013, AAUS began partnering with International Training to provide a pathway for the instructional staff at all OMs to be recognized formally as Scientific Diving Instructors and for those Instructors to have the ability to issue Scientific Diver certifications to properly qualified divers in their programs. International Training provided the structure and liability blanket AAUS needed while the AAUS Office and Certification committee handled the operational control of the program; accepting and reviewing applications, creating and maintaining records, and issuing certifications on behalf of the OM. During this partnership, the recognition of the Scientific Diving Instructor credential and the formal training of Scientific Divers was vested in the Organizational Member’s Diving Control Board and Diving Safety Program. Although not the only steps AAUS has taken to identify as a scientific diving certification agency, this decade-long program has provided the necessary foundation and guidance for us to take the next giant leap for our entire community.

In 2020, with the help of our friends at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the AAUS Board was able to obtain organizational insurance coverage as a certification agency, a standard-setting body, and an accrediting body through Gallagher, an internationally renowned agency. This laid the foundation for the recognition of AAUS Scientific Diving Instructor (ASDI) credentials and the formal training of Scientific Divers to be vested with AAUS. While the recognition of the active status and reciprocity eligibility of scientific divers will always remain with the Diving Control Board at each OM, these two certification programs offer everyone in our community a way to be nationally recognized as professional members and as holding professional qualifications from an agency internationally accepted as a leader in advancing underwater sciences.

In 2022, The Board invited the Scientific Diving Instructors already participating in the partnership with International Training to become the first professional members of the Academy as AAUS Scientific Diving Instructors. The program already has dozens of active Instructors who have been certifying Scientific Divers recognized by their home institution as well as by AAUS. Now, the AAUS Office is ready to start accepting applications for review for all active instructional staff at all current Organizational Members to join as professional members. Through the end of 2023, your affiliation and good standing with your home institution is your pathway to formal recognition from the Academy as well as supporting the organization that is working tirelessly to advance and facilitate safe and productive scientific diving.  

APPLY for ASDI 2024

  • Complete application form  and return to [email protected]
  • Authorizing OM’s DSO will be contacted and required to have a fully updated OM profile
  • Applicant will be required to have a fully completed and updated AAUS individual member profile
  • Applicant must have attended one DSO Orientation or two symposia in the past 5 years (Ongoing attendance requirement to maintain ASDI active status.)
  • Must complete at least the final exam for the AAUS SDC course in the e-learning platform as a student. (Access instructions supplied upon application)

The AAUS training committee will review all applications, and upon approval, Professional Member Instructor Dues will be $195 for 2023.


  • Complete 2023 Renewal Form and return to [email protected]
  • Applicant will be required to have a fully completed and updated AAUS individual member profile
  • Applicant must have attended one DSO Orientation or two symposia in the past 5 years 
  • Must complete at least the final exam for the AAUS SDC course in the e-learning platform as a student. (Access instructions sent directly with renewal notice)

The AAUS training committee will review all applications, and upon approval, Professional Member Instructor Dues will be $195 for 2023.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What will be the annual fee for AAUS Instructors? For 2023, AAUS Instructors annual fee will be $195.
  • Will there be any differences in requirements for students through the AAUS certification program? Yes, for AAUS to recognize your certifications, divers in training and AAUS instructors MUST utilize the e-learning SDC course and final exam. If the instructor chooses not to have students complete every module, at a minimum the student must take the final exam and the instructor must complete the Additional Requirements Checklist and final certification information within the e-learning platform.
  • What is the fee for student certifications? For 2023, initial certifications will be $50/diver and include a certification card, a one-year full membership in AAUS and a listing on the National Registry of Scientific divers (to be renewed annually by the diver).
  • Are AAUS Instructor credentials recognized in the diving industry? AAUS has always accepted certifications at all levels from the internationally recognized recreational certification agencies as evidence of formal prior scuba training. We have spoken with the President of the World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC) and he has indicated that they will recognize our Instructors as well as the Scientific Diving certifications issued by our Instructors.
  • What about insurance? Do AAUS Instructors/Professional Members have liability protections? Do I need to keep my current personal professional liability insurance? Like your current recreational Instructor professional membership, there is no inherent liability protection from the certification agency (AAUS in this case). AAUS will not require proof of organizational or individual professional liability insurance as part of your application or renewal. However, we strongly urge all of our Instructors to ensure their organization has these protections in place for the entire program as well as for all their instructional staff. If you or your organization are in need of these policies, please contact us.
  • Can I keep my ITI or other Recreational Instructor rating and also transition my Scientific Diver Instructor rating to AAUS? Yes, you can and should maintain your recreational instructor rating with ITI or other agencies and only transfer your Science Diving Instructor rating to AAUS.
  • What courses will AAUS Instructors be able to teach? Can I train/certify entry-level divers? Currently, AAUS instructors will have access to the AAUS Scientific Diving and AAUS Nitrox courses. As new courses are propagated by AAUS, instructors will be given priority access.


ASDI Program Certification Process


Step One: Must submit an AAUS Scientific Diving Instructor (ASDI) application

  • Individual and OM Profile Updated
  • Application submitted and approved
  • Professional dues paid for calendar year

Step Two: Instructor must review/complete AAUS Scientific Diver course on e-learning platform (elearning.aaaus.org)

  • AAUS office to add Applicant as a “Student”
  • Modules and Quizzes completed
  • Final Exam with passing grade recorded
  • Note: E-learning system will not register each module as “complete” when you are in instructor mode. You must follow instructions to access the platform as a student.


Training and Registering Students

Step One: Instructor must register students for e-learning

  • Instructions and template attached. Template must be used for all classes, even if there is only one student. Please follow instructions carefully.

Step Two: Students complete AAUS Science Diver Course

  • Instructor can utilize the e-learning materials however fits best in their course (primary lectures, homework assignments, supplemental support/review, etc.).  However:

  • Students MUST complete, at a minimum, the final exam on the e-learning platform.
  • Instructor must complete the ‘Additional Training Requirements’ checklist (instructions attached)

Once a student completes the SDC e-learning course, all additional training requirements and all in-water activities, the DSO/Instructor may authorize them as an AAUS Scientific Diver.

Step Three: Credentialing

There are several options for providing AAUS SDC credentials and associated diver benefits.  The instructor needs to complete the section ‘Final Completion and Credentialing’ under the Additional Training Requirements module.

Options Include:

  • AAUS ASDI Program (OM Sponsored)- the instructor participates in the AAUS Instructor Program and the student's certification credentialing will be paid by the Organizational Member ($50/diver). The diver will be provided with a certification card, a 1-year full membership in AAUS, and initial listing on the AAUS National Registry of Scientific Divers.  Subsequent annual renewal of membership and registry listing will be billed directly to the diver.
  • AAUS ASDI Program (Unsponsored)- the instructor participates in the AAUS Instructor Program; however, the student's certification credentialing will not be paid by the Organizational Member.  AAUS will contact the student directly about purchasing AAUS credentials, membership, and enrolling in the National Registry. 
  • Non-Participating Instructor- the certifying instructor does not participate in any AAUS instructor program.  The student may contact AAUS directly about purchasing AAUS membership and enrolling in the National Registry.  NOTE:  AAUS certification cards are not available to divers trained by non-participating instructors. 

Step Four: AAUS office processes certifications

The office will process certifications based on the selections made from the above options once or twice a month (depending on volume). If the OM is paying for the certifications, the invoices and cards will be sent directly to the instructor. All membership information will be sent to the diver.  

  • If the diver wishes to have a photo on their card, the photo MUST be on their eLearning profile before the diver’s certification is sent for processing
  • The contact information (name, email) listed on the eLearning profile will be used for the AAUS membership profile