NSS-CDS Training Program

Choose a course

Choose a course

What is your goal?


Learn to cave dive

The NSS-CDS offers multiple options for getting your initial Cave Diver certification.

Cave Diver

icon Forget what you’ve seen, heard or read about the process of becoming a fully certified Cave Diver. We just upped our game. The new process is more straightforward and results in better trained, better prepared Cave Divers. You’ll want to be part of this.
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Advanced Cave Diver

icon This course provides an alternative to the NSS-CDS Cave Diver course. It includes all of the academic and skill development from the full Cave Diver course, plus all the content and training of the NSS-CDS Stage Diving specialty course and the content and training of the First Responder program.
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CCR Cave Diver/Upgrade

icon This course is the closed-circuit equivalent of the Apprentice and full Cave Diver courses combined. It covers largely the same knowledge and skills. The chief difference is the fact students learn using closed-circuit rebreathers rather than open-circuit sidemount or backmount.
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Continue your training

Your initial Cave Diver certification was just the beginning. The CDS offers a variety of programs to extend your horizons.

Cave Surveying

icon This course teaches the fundamentals of surveying underwater caves. It’s a course cave divers of all experience levels can enjoy.
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icon This course is the logical companion to the Underwater Cave Surveying program. It shows you how to turn your survey data into beautiful and compelling underwater cave maps.
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First Responder

icon “Feces occur.” No matter what your level of experience, as a cave diver you may be among the first on the scene of an incident involving a lost diver or a fatality. If you are, do you know what to do? This course will show you.
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Stage Cave Diver

icon Sooner or later, most active cave divers discover they’ve gone as far as possible using a single set of backmounted doubles or sidemount. When this happens, the question becomes, “How do I go further?” The first step is to use stage bottles.
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DPV Cave Diver

icon Diver Propulsion Vehicles (DPVs) are, in many ways, the ultimate range extender. They’re also fun as Hell to ride. But all this enjoyment comes at a price. DPV use can substantially increase the risks associated with cave diving. This is why proper training is essential.
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Advanced Sidemount

icon At one time we considered using sidemount an advanced cave diving activity. Now at least as many students learn to cave dive in sidemount as in backmount. Still, there is a form of sidemount cave diving which goes far beyond simply using sidemount equipment. This course teaches you what and how.
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Trimix Cave Diver/CCR Trimix Cave Diver

icon Diving beyond the safe operation limits of your gas mixture is part of the five Rules of Accident Analysis. It’s why the depth limit for entry-level Cave Diver training is 40 m/130 ft. But what if you have a legitimate need to go deeper? This is where the Trimix Cave Diver course comes in.
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Instructor development

icon Many dive instructors tell us it was harder to get their NSS-CDS Cave Diver rating than it was to get their Open Water Instructor card. This should give you an idea of what it is like to get your NSS-CDS Cave Instructor rating. However, if you want it badly enough, it is an achievable goal.
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Other useful programs

Not yet ready to become a cave diver? Could you skills use some polishing before you start? These programs can help.

Cavern Diver

icon Things have changed. The NSS-CDS Cavern Diver course is no longer a prerequisite for, nor does it count toward Cave Diver certification. Still, if you have no desire to dive beyond site of daylight, or if you are uncertain whether you want to incur the time or expense of learning to cave dive, this could be the course for you.
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CDS Basics Orientation

icon Many, if not most who enter NSS-CDS Cave Diver training possess prior technical training and experience using backmounted doubles or sidemount. If you lack this, the CDS Basics orientation provides an opportunity to gain this experience and master important skills before starting your Cave Diver course.
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Course Standards

Form These are the standards instructors must follow when teaching any NSS-CDS course. You will find the standards for individual courses on their respective pages.