Scuba diving is one of the most therapeutic experiences you’ll ever have in your life. Plus, despite what you’ve heard, getting scuba certified is much easier and less expensive than you’d think. (Do you know what SCUBA stands for?)
You can still go scuba diving without being certified but if you’re someone that wants to get the most out of the experience, then it’s definitely something you should do. Then you can go onto the really exciting stuff, and buy your diving equipment! The most cost-effective way of doing this is by getting a scuba gear package.
To get scuba certified there are various scuba organizations you can go through. The most popular ones, are CMAS, SSI, PADI, and NAUI. These organizations may vary slightly in ways of teaching, certifications, and other things. So it’s a good idea to do some research to find out which may be best suited to you.
How to Get Scuba Certified and What to Expect
As a PADI diver myself, I am going to go through the expectations and stages of getting scuba certified with PADI, which is short for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. How old do you have to be to scuba dive I hear you ask? You can get certified as young as 10 years old and there are various ways to complete it.
You can do it all in person or do part of it online and part of it in person. Here we will cover everything you need to know to become scuba certified as quickly as possible. There are three parts to a PADI scuba certification.
Part 1: Learning the Basic Scuba Principle
- How to prepare for a dive
- How to choose scuba gear that’s right for you
- Diving procedures
- Learn the underwater hand signals
- Learn how to unplug and equalize your ears
- Scuba educational video
- Scuba theory (this portion can be done online through PADI eLearning if you want)
You will go through the PADI manual with either a physical copy or on a computer. Make sure to ask your PADI instructor any questions you might have during this time.
Next, you’ll watch a video and practice your hand signals until you feel comfortable with them. Once you’ve learned all the basic principles you’ll take a simple test to ensure you understand.
Part 2: Hands-on Confined Training
Now you get to learn how to use the scuba gear before going deep into the ocean. This part will likely take place in a pool or in a calm part of the sea with your instructor to help familiarize yourself with the gear.
A few of the skills you’ll learn during the confined diving part are:
- How to prep your scuba gear
- How to remove water from your mask when in the water
- How to control your buoyancy
- How to use the breathing apparatus
- How to move while underwater
- How to get in and out of the water
- Hand signals underwater
- Having a safety plan
You will learn all of these skills with your instructor until you feel comfortable, confident. Then you’ll be ready to experience the magic in the sea at your dive location.
Part 3: Open Water Dive
This is now the most exciting part of the certification, where you’ll be able to do four dives (typically over the span of two days). These dives will be done with your instructor so you won’t be left alone for any of it.
Where Can I Complete the Scuba Certification?
Some people will complete the certification in their hometown before going on a holiday. However, many people also choose to complete it at their holiday destination.
You can always do part of your certification in your hometown and then the other half in a tropical location. Just make sure to talk to your local PADI instructor about your desire to finish the certification with a different PADI instructor in another location.
It really depends on where you want to get your scuba certification. Some people prefer to get certified close to where they live, while others would rather get it all done while on holidays.
The certification process is flexible depending on how quickly you want to complete it. However, it usually takes three to four days for the certification to be complete.
PADI instructors are all over the world at resorts and dive centers, making it easy to find a location to get certified. The instructors will work with you at your own pace to make sure that you feel as comfortable as possible.
Scuba Certification Requirements
- At least 10 years old
- Be able to swim 200 meters/yards without stopping
- Be able to tread water for 10 minutes
- Fill out a medical history form
- Must not be pregnant
Some basic swimming skills are necessary when wanting to get certified. You don’t have to be a professional swimmer but each instructor will want to make sure that you can take care of yourself in the water.
Therefore, having the ability to swim at least 200 meters (with a mask, fins, and snorkel on) without stopping is important. The good thing about this swim is that you won’t be timed, so take as long as you need.
Also, being able to tread water for 10 minutes is important but keep in mind that you can also just float during that time too. Many people with physical disabilities are able to meet these requirements and often obtain their certification.
It’s important to be fully transparent on your medical history form. Be sure to inform your PADI instructor of any medical conditions that could potentially cause an issue for you while in the water.
The medical history form is there to make sure that you’re in good health and are able to dive.
If you do have certain medical conditions that could possibly cause an issue, just make sure to check in with your doctor. In some countries, you have to have your doctor’s permission before going.
However, that’s not as common and usually only necessary if you have a medical condition. So if that is the case for you, get your doctor to sign a medical form stating you’re in good health and able to dive despite your condition.
Final Thoughts On Scuba Certification
Once you’ve selected the location that works best for you, make sure to ask about everything that’s included with the certification.
Most of the time all of the gear you could possibly need is included (fins, mask, snorkel, scuba tank, regulator, depth gauge, wetsuit, course learning material, and maybe even lunch or a photographer). However, it’s good to double-check exactly what’s included.
Overall, getting PADI scuba certified is relatively easy and is quite possibly one of the most exciting certifications you could ever get in your life. Breathing underwater is a relaxing and peculiar sensation that will keep you coming back for more. Your mind will be blown away by the beauty and the enjoyment of feeling weightless in the gorgeous blue sea.