Beautiful, soothing blue waters coupled with a massive underwater world full of mystery and discovery have led to the increasing popularity of commercial scuba diving.
With a multitude of options when it comes to tour operators and scuba diving schools, it’s easy to see how accessibility has contributed to the ever-increasing numbers getting their feet wet.
With that said, scuba certification and requirements can still be a confusing subject, with many still unaware of what they can and can’t do in certain places and situations around the world. After all, scuba diving is still known as an extreme sport, and definitely comes with it’s dangers!
Fret not though!
Here you’ll find everything you need to know about scuba diving certification, whether you need it, where to get it, how long it takes, and how much it costs. Our comprehensive guide will leave no questions unanswered!
Do You Need To Be Certified To Scuba Dive?
There’s definitely an element of learning to be done when it comes to scuba diving. If you decide to do your first dive as part of a guided tour, rather than lessons, you’ll have to go over some of the scuba diving basics before throwing yourself in. This is for safety more than anything along with your own comfort. After all, breathing underwater isn’t a natural feeling for any human to begin with!
That being said, most places in the world don’t require you to be scuba certified in order to dive, although it is highly recommended.
What’s more, most tourist hotspots offer introductory dives for complete beginners. These are usually guided and teach you the basics on the day.
Some tours, however, do require you to be certified for some of the more advanced dives as a prerequisite.
So Why Should You Become Scuba Certified?
You can’t be blamed for asking, to be fair, if it’s not a requirement and there’s tours that’ll teach you what you need to know on the day, what’s the point in scuba certification?
Actually, there’s a few benefits of scuba certification that might be of interest to you. More so if scuba diving is something you want to take up as a more serious hobby, or even profession.
Firstly, as mentioned before, scuba certification allows you to take on the more advanced dives that tour operators offer. There’s an element of exclusivity to these sites and there’s plenty to be seen down there!
Next, it gives you more freedom to dive alone or in a private group. While it’s never recommended to dive alone, being scuba certified will give you an additional level of comfort under the water and you’ll be more able to keep yourself safe. With that said, you should always aim to dive with a buddy!
Finally, being certified to scuba diving opens a world of opportunity to dive commercially or professionally. For instance, jobs such as underwater welder and rescue diver require you to be scuba certified. There are some great career opportunities to look into if you just can’t get enough of the water!
How Do You Get Scuba Certification?
There’s a few routes you can go about obtaining your scuba certification.
It’s worth mentioning, you can actually begin the process online, believe it or not! Obviously, you won’t be able to do the lot, but you can make a start on some of the theory stuff. A Zoom call and the paddling pool in the back garden isn’t going to cut it, I’m afraid!
The most popular way to go about obtaining your scuba diving certification is to find a local diving school that offers diving lessons and certification. Use the map below to find out more about learning to scuba dive near you. You should also refer to our factors to consider when choosing a diving school.
There’s a few types of certification you can get for scuba diving, depending on your goals and what your requirements are. These fall into two categories:
These courses are geared towards those diving for fun, and include:
PADI Scuba Diver
Open Water Diver
Advanced Open Water Diver
Rescue Diver Course
Master Scuba Diver (completing specialty courses such as wreck diving, night diving, etc.)
Professional Diving Certification
The following courses are geared towards those that are looking to become instructors and teach scuba diving themselves:
Open Water Scuba Instructor
Master Scuba Diver Trainer
IDC Staff Instructor
Master Scuba Instructor
As you can see, there’s plenty to get your feet wet with! The most popular option among those eager to learn scuba diving, is the PADI open water course. It’s also the most widely available option offered around the world.
To give you an idea of what it’s like completing an open water diving certification, here’s an overview of what you’ll have to do.
This is the theory side of the course wherein you’ll learn basic concepts, terms and principles you need to know and fully understand in order to be as safe as possible and get the most enjoyment out of your time in the water.
Confined Water Dives
In this second section, you’ll begin learning and practicing basic practical scuba diving skills in a confined space, such as a swimming pool. You’ll be doing multiple minidives that will take you through the same steps you would follow out on the water.
This ensures you get a feel for the basic skills while in the comfort of pool-like conditions, making sure you’re ready for when you get out into open water.
Open Water Dives
This is the final section, and the exciting part! You’ll take all of the practical skills you’ve developed in the pool and take it out into the open water at a local dive site.
Paired with the theory knowledge you’ve gathered, you’ll complete a total of 4 dives on the open water to complete your open water scuba certification.
You can expect a PADI open water course to last 3-4 days.
Scuba Diving Requirements
There aren’t many requirements in order to scuba dive or get scuba certified. If you’re doing an introductory dive with a tour operator, you’ll often only need to be able to swim and be in reasonably good health.
For a certification course, such as the PADI open water, you must be aged 10 years or over, be able to swim, and medically fit to dive. This is also the case for most dives.
Will it’s not required, it’s highly recommended that you always dive with a buddy. Some territories around the world also require the use of diver down flags which come with some rules that must be followed.
To learn more about the requirements for scuba diving in your area, refer to the map above.
How Much Does Scuba Diving Certification Cost?
This largely depends on what course you’re taking, where you’re doing it, and how long the course is. It’s best to check with local dive shops to see what courses they’re offering and the course durations.
As a ballpark figure, if you choose to take PADI’s elearning course for the theory side, you can expect to pay around $160 for that. The dive shop would then charge a fee on top of that for the practical side, which you should expect to cost around $500
This is going to vary a lot depending on where in the world you are and the type of training you’re getting, so be sure to look locally!
What Scuba Gear Do I Need?
There’s no need to worry too much about scuba gear. If you’re doing a guided tour with a local operator, you’ll find that most of the time the cost of the gear rental is included.
This is often the case for scuba lessons and certification too, a lot of the time the main scuba gear is factored into the price of the course.
If, however, you’re looking at getting into diving more seriously for the long term, it’s certainly worth looking into getting your own gear! After all, you don’t know where other people have been that you’re sharing all this gear with!
Some of the most important scuba gear you’ll want to get started is:
Depends on the course, but you can expect to spend 3-4 days completing a PADI open water certification. This is also performance based, meaning you can complete it quicker by putting in the extra effort.
Is the scuba diving test hard?
It’s not so much of a test, you’re just applying the knowledge and skills you’ve picked up during the course and putting it into practice. Don’t think of it like some school exam!
Do you have to be a strong swimmer?
You don’t have to be a particularly strong swimmer to go scuba diving or become certified. It might limit you on some dives or in certain conditions, but as long as you can actually swim, you’re good to get started.
Is scuba diving alone illegal?
It’s not illegal to go scuba diving alone, however it’s highly discouraged. Anything can happen out on the water, and it’s a massive area that’s easy to get lost in. You should ALWAYS go diving with a dive buddy.
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