Why take the First Class Diver development programme?

Are you ready for the ultimate challenge? First Class Diver (FCD) is BSAC's top diving grade reflecting a high level of theoretical knowledge, organisational and personal diving and dive management skills. First Class Divers have gone on to lead groundbreaking missions worthy of national recognition. 

I wanted to stretch myself as far as I could

Mark Paisey

The highest diver grade First Class Diver is a challenging award to attain. It takes significant dedication, experience and training to get there - but the view from the top is worth it!

There are many reasons why divers want to achieve First Class Diver success, the main one often being the pure personal achievement of earning your place at the very top of the BSAC diving community. You will have demonstrated to BSAC’s most experienced instructors that you can lead safe but challenging national and international diving expeditions.

Also, if you want to progress from Advanced Instructor to National Instructor you will need to be a First Class Diver.

To enrol in First Class Diver training you must have successfully completed an Advanced Diver course. You will also need to have completed 100 dives in a range of conditions since qualifying, at least 20 of which must show experience of diving to depths greater than 30m.

You must also have attended a BSAC Chartwork and Position Fixing course (or equivalent), be a BSAC Diver Rescue Specialist and a BSAC Diver Coxswain (or equivalent). More information on the First Class Diver syllabus can be found here.

There is no set training programme for First Class Diver, instead there is a support network to help candidates to prepare. The First Class Diver Exam consists of three separate modules, assessed nationally, that can be taken in any order.

You’ll need to complete a Theory Knowledge Exam, produce an advanced Expedition Plan and pass a two-day Practical Diving Assessment that examines 12 criteria including your teamwork and leadership as you make challenging diving happen for the exam team.

What you’ll qualify to do

Qualifying as a First Class Diver means you have had your ability to run safe but challenging diving expeditions assessed by the most experienced BSAC instructors.

You’ll then be in a position to contribute to BSAC developments at a club, regional and national level.

What diving experiences will this open up to me?

There’s not much you can’t do as a BSAC First Class Diver.

The qualification means you have a high level of practical diving skills and knowledge – far beyond that of BSAC Advanced Diver. You will have the ability to lead major diving expeditions to achieve specific aims or objectives.

For example, the mission to recover two bouncing Highball Second World War bombs, as seen in the film the Dam Busters, from Loch Striven in Scotland, was devised and led by BSAC First Class Diver Mark Paisey. You can find out more about it on the BSAC blog.

This a fantastic opportunity to learn more about diving than can be achieved at many BSAC clubs. Working with mentors in regional and national groups of fellow candidates and attending preparation events will allow you to meet new people with similar aims and learn from them.

The first step is to register your interest.

This will enable the First Class Diver Chief Examiner to offer you both general guidance and specific advice on how to prepare for the exam.

You can view other products to go with the Advanced Diver course, such as The Expedition Manual at the BSAC shop. You will need full open-water diving kit to do this course, and access to some of the equipment needed for various types of diving with a purpose.

 

Your next steps – developing your skills

After qualifying as a First Class Diver your diving horizons will encompass exciting, adventurous expeditions to far-flung places.

  • Already an Advanced Instructor? You could further your instructing skills by becoming a National Instructor, the highest instructor qualification in BSAC, which opens the door to teaching on Advanced Instructor and First Class Diver events.
  • You could continue to expand your diving interests further. BSAC Skill Development Courses (SDCs) include Closed Circuit Rebreather Diver courses and three levels of mixed gas training.

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