Here is my view on this subject.
I recently completed both the book and dive requirements for PADI's Advanced Open Water certification, and after discussing my experience with both the shop's training director and some other senior instructors, I am **NOT** able to say with confidence that I actually am an advanced diver. In my opinion, I thought the PADI standards to be a bit too "relaxed".
In fact, the training director pointed out to me that per the current PADI standards, it is actually possible for someone to achieve "Rescue Diver" status in less than 20 dives. And this is something that he (and now I) don't agree with.
In my view, a diver should have the following to be qualified as an advanced diver:
- both a certain number of dives and a certain number of bottom time hours
- certifications (aka actual cards) in a minimum number of specialties, such as night/low vis, navigation, wreck, peak bouancy, search & recovery, etc.
- certain number of fun dives with buddies of various experience levels to practice what you are learning.
And what I listed above is how Scuba Diving International approaches advanced diving. First you become certified in at least 5 specialties (through classroom & dives) and then after a certain amount of diving you are awarded the advanced moniker. And the training director stressed that he would rather have the student make the call if he/she was now an advanced diver.
In a nutshell, there is no pat answer to your question. It depends on the diver, instructor, and training agency.
[This message has been edited by TexasMike (edited 05-30-2001).]