NSS-CDS Cave Instructor Crossover

The process of becoming a full NSS-CDS Cave Instructor isn’t easy. It requires considerable time and effort (learn more on the NSS-CDS website). This is why many instructor candidates choose to get their TDI Full Cave Instructor rating first, then cross over to NSS-CDS.

  • NSS-CDS Cave Instructor crossovers involve having candidates teach all of the land- and in-water skills of the NSS-CDS Apprentice Cave Diver course under direct Instructor Trainer/Evaluator supervision. This will ideally involve actual students recruited by the instructor candidate.
  • Candidates are responsible for ensuring their evaluators are compensated for their time and expenses.
  • To pass the evaluation, candidates must teach all skills successfully.


Candidates must hold the equivalent of NSS-CDS Cave Instructor certification from a diver training organization recognized by the NSS-CDS. The prerequisites for such recognition include:

  • An instructor training and certification process similar to that of the NSS-CDS.
  • Final Cave Instructor certification is awarded only after candidates have been evaluated by at least two different Instructor Trainers/Evaluators.

Crossover candidates must have:

  • Taught at the full Cave Instructor level for at least one year.
  • Conducted at least three cave diver courses resulting in the certification of at least five students.
  • Passed the NSS-CDS Standards and Procedures exam.

A better way?

For new cave instructors, among the biggest roadblocks to crossing over over to the NSS-CDS is the fact you must be a full Cave Instructor with your previous agency for at least a year. This is why we encourage our instructor candidates to work on getting both agency ratings concurrently. Doing so may help them get their CDS rating sooner.

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