NSS-CDS Training Program

CDS Basics orientation

CDS Basics

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.

To enroll in NSS-CDS Cave Diver training, students must:

  • Have prior training in sidemount or backmounted doubles, or be able to document equivalent experience.
  • Demonstrate adequate mastery of buoyancy control, trim and propulsion for cave diving.

The CDS Basics orientation provides students the opportunity to gain this training and experience while working within the framework of the NSS-CDS Training Program.


  • Be at least 18
  • Possess a minimum of Nitrox and Advanced Open Water Diver certifications, or equivalent, from one or more widely recognized diver training organizations
  • Have logged at least 50 dives
  • If taking this program in sidemount, students must possess either Sidemount Diver certification from a widely recognized diver training organization or have equivalent experience. If they do not, students must, as a minimum, complete the academic learning requirements for Sidemount Diver certification

Instructors often teach a complete Sidemount course and issue Sidemount Diver certification in conjunction with this program.


Course duration can vary widely, depending on students’ prior training and ability. The exact numbers of days and dives are at the instructor’s discretion. Nevertheless, students in this program must accrue at least 90 minutes of bottom time under direct instructor supervision.

Find an instructor

Course Standards

Form These are the standards instructors must follow when teaching this course. It includes information on student and instructor prerequisites, course content, skill requirements and limits of training.