Learning how to scuba dive is the first step, but getting certified is another story. With an official certification, you can discover the underwater world with confidence. Depending on the level of certification, you can explore varying depths that recreational divers alone can’t reach. In this post, we will discuss how to get certified for scuba diving at different levels.
PADI, or Professional Association of Diving Instructors, is one of the most reputable organizations in the diving world. Below, we will expand on this organization and its courses.
Why you need to get certified
Technically, it’s not illegal to dive if you don’t have proper certification. However, it’s not safe and not as fun as having an official body certifying you. Aside from that, some dive spots require a specific certification level before they will allow you to take a plunge.
Like a school diploma, a diving certification shows that you have achieved a specific level. It’s also a strong proof that you are skilled enough to handle a specific dive.
Take note that a diving certificate is more than just a piece of paper. It’s also a matter of training where you’ll be taught advanced diving skills. You will only get a certificate once you pass the assessment of the diving instructor. This applies to beginner and professional certifications.
In this video, PADI takes us on the process of how a diver gets certified:
Different PADI dive courses
There are many organizations you can choose to get certified for scuba diving. There’s the Scuba Schools International (SSI), National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI), and Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), among others. The latter is the most popular certifying organization among divers.
The following are some of the diving lessons and certifications that PADI offers. Take note that they have certifications for kids to adults.
NOTE: All PADI certifications are good for life and will not require renewal. However, if you haven’t taken a plunge for too long, it’s advisable to take a refresher course.
This program is an introductory experience for kids that are at least eight years old. It teaches the kids their first breaths underwater. Don’t worry because this is a shallow dive of 6 feet max.
No prior experience is needed for kids to join the Bubblemaker program. Still, PADI states that the child should be comfortable in the water, which means that the child should at least know how to swim.
The children will be introduced to basic diving gear under the care of a PADI Pro. The child will also receive a certificate, logbook, and other goodies.
You can book a Bubblemaker session for your child’s birthday and other events. Most PADI Dive Centers and resorts offer this program, together with fun activities. You can also join the kids here.
–Open Water Diver Certification
For adults, the entry-level diving certification is the Open Dive program from PADI. This is where diving certification starts. It’s also the most popular certification, with millions of divers all over the world certified for this specific program.
To enroll in this program, the diver must be 10 years old with proper swimming skills. Also, the person should be in the pink of health. Nevertheless, PADI doesn’t require prior diving experience for this certification.
Overall, this course will last for four days, including two full days and two half-days. Aside from classroom teaching, you will also be taken to the practical application of four dives in either an ocean or a lake.
–Advanced Open Water Diver Certification
Once you have the Open Water Diver Certification, the next step is the Advanced Open Water Certificate. It’s an expansion of what you learned and experienced in the Open Water course. You can start this course right after securing your certification for the latter.
A diver who wishes to get certified for this course should be at least 12 years old. However, youngsters can only join Adventure Dives that the PADI instructor will determine.
Take note that you can actually get credits to earn the certification without having to go through the training. For Adventure divers, they are required to accomplish two Adventure Dives to secure the certification.
Moreover, you need a dive knife and compass for this course. In some instances, you’ll be asked to bring a wetsuit as well as a side mount and a dive light.
–Rescue Diver Certification
If you want to be more confident and safer during your dives, you should take the Rescue Diver course. It’s the most challenging course, but very rewarding with all the skill you’re going to learn.
To enroll in the Rescue Diver course, you must be at least 12 years old with a PADI Junior Adventure Diver certification. Also, you should have finished the Underwater Navigation Adventure dive, courtesy of PADI as well.
Aside from that, you should have CPR and first aid training within the past two years. If you want, you can also take the PADI Emergency Oxygen Provider course simultaneously. The latter is a specialty course.
Overall, this course is very useful for self-rescue during a dive as well as rescuing other divers who are panicking or in danger.
–Master PADI Scuba Diver Certification
If you’re ready to level up your diving skills, you can join the elite roster of PADI’s Master Scuba Divers. You can secure this certification with a combination of scuba training and practical experience.
For this certification, you need to secure all the certificates above: Open Water, Advanced Open Water, and Rescue Diver. On top of that, you need to accomplish the PADI Specialty Diver course together with at least 50 dives.
This is a very challenging certification to secure. Still, it’s worth trying for serious and professional divers.
To become a divemaster, you need to secure the PADI Divemaster Certification. This certification allows you to lead a group of divers during a plunge. This is the first level of professional scuba training that aspiring instructors should take.
For you to take this course, you must be at least 18 years old with a PADI Rescue Diver certification. You should also have a CPR and first training within the past two years as well as a medical statement signed by your physician within the last 12 months.
On top of that, you should also have at least 40 dives before the course and 20 more to secure the certificate.
–Adaptive Support Diver Certification
Another certification that you can get from PADI is the Adaptive Support Diver Certification. This is a specialty course in PADI that teaches skills that you can use when diving with a buddy.
For this course, you should be at least 15 years old with the Open Water or PADI Freedive Certification. You should also have accomplished the EFR Care course, both primary and secondary in the past 24 months.
–Advanced Rebreather Diver Certification
Another useful certification from PADI is the Advanced Rebreather. Here, you’ll be trained to dive for up to 130 feet while controlling oxygen consumption and a bailout cylinder system.
The requirements for this course are more lenient than the previous ones we listed here. You only have to be 18 years old with an Open Water Diver certificate as well as 30 logged dives. Also, you must have a PADI Deep Diver.
–Adventure Diver Certification
The Adventure Diver Certification enrolee should be at least 10 years old with an Open Water certificate. Take note that this is a sub-course of the Open Water course.
Here, you will learn about fish identification, underwater photography, and more. Aside from training, you will have to take three Adventure Dives.
–PADI TecRec Certification
If you’re planning to go to deep lengths, you should take the PADI Technical Diving Course. This is a serious course that involves dives of up to 130 feet with stage decompression. You’ll also learn how to use advanced dive technologies and equipment.
There are many sub-courses under the TecRec program. It’s a challenging certification with intensive requirements.
Cost of scuba diving certification
The cost of any PADI scuba diving course depends on the center or resort where you’re taking it. Usually, it will cost around US$250 to US$500, depending on the type of course and difficulty.
The most expensive are technical dives since it requires special equipment and in-depth training. Nevertheless, all PADI certifications are good for life. It’s also a great investment for your safety and in leveling up your skills.
If you want to save some money, you can get your certification while taking a vacation in an Asian dive spot. It’s also cheaper in popular tourist destinations.
Just make sure that the center is officially affiliated and accredited by PADI. To locate a legitimate PADI center, you should use the PADI Center Locator. As much as possible, opt for a PADI 5-Star Center for the best experience.
Things you should know
Learning how to scuba dive isn’t always easy. The following are the things you should expect:
-It may take longer than a few days
Although classroom training is only a few days, the practical dives can be spreads within a few months.
-It’s not the cheapest hobby
Truth be told, scuba diving certification isn’t cheap. If you want a legitimate certificate, you should be willing to invest money.
-You may panic
For those who are just getting started, it’s normal to panic at first. Make sure that you communicate with the divemaster if you’re not confident about the plunge.
-You should be a good swimmer
If you are aiming to become a Master Diver or get any advanced certification, you must be a great swimmer. You should also be comfortable to be on the water for long periods.
-You should be healthy
If you have a serious medical condition, the divemaster has the discretion to decline your enrolment. This is for your own good since the pressure underwater can have a drastic effect on your body.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the best diving certification?
A: PADI is the most prestigious diving certification organization. They are also the most famous and biggest diving organization in the world. The best thing about PADI is they have hundreds of certification and instructing centers all over the world.
Q: How long will it take me to learn how to scuba dive?
A: Usually, it will take around 10 hours of water training and a weekend of practice dives. You can also self-study for up to 15 hours to know the basics. After that, the certification will require you about 4 to 5 open dives. Depending on your familiarity and skills, learning period to get scuba certified varies among divers.
Q: Is it safe to scuba dive beyond 30 feet?
A: On average, the pressure at 30 feet underwater is twice as the surface pressure of water. If you don’t know the proper breathing technique, you may experience arterial gas embolism (AGE). This happens when you don’t breathe properly as you ascend or descend. When you breathe back, your lungs will be overpressurized, which will lead to AGE or even lung explosion.
Q: How long can I stay at 100 feet deep?
A: This depends per diver, their skills, and their health. Technical and experienced divers can stay submerged at 100 feet for long. Usually, divers will stay at 90 to 100 feet for just 30 minutes. Remember that the deeper the dive is, the shorter the trip should be. This is to limit the negative effects of underwater pressure on the diver’s body.
Q: How many times can I safely dive in one day?
A: Based on PADI standards, you shouldn’t dive more frequently than three dives a day. However, the deeper the dive is, the less frequent you should do it in a day. Aside from that, you should observe the leeway before going on a flight.
Knowing how to get certified for scuba diving is the first step to leveling up your skills. With a certification, you can explore more depths and waters. PADI is, by far, the best option for beginners and professional divers.