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We all know that feeling. You’re out on a boat, enjoying the sun and the waves, and you see someone in the water with a mask and fins.
You think to yourself, “That looks cool. I should do that.”
Well, here’s your chance to learn how to scuba dive without having to get wet (at least not at first).
Keep reading for everything you need to know about getting scuba certified, including what it costs and where you can do it. So put on your sunscreen and keep reading – learning to dive is within reach!
📜 Scuba Diving Certification Cost
Scuba diving certification costs vary depending on the agency with which you are scuba diving and where you are intending to take the course.
As a general rule, courses in Asia are known to be the most affordable. Any dive center in Asia will tell you that during the winter months, they are flooded with tons of students looking to escape the cold and get scuba diving certified.
🏖️ Scuba Diving Agencies
The first step is to determine which of the scuba diving agencies you’re going for.
There are many different scuba diving training agencies, but some of the most popular include PADI, NAUI, SDI and SSI.
Each agency has its own certification process and certification costs associated with becoming a certified diver. Generally, the more comprehensive the training program is, the more it will cost.
PADI – Professional Association of Dive Instructors.
PADI is the largest certifying agency in the world, issuing roughly two-thirds of all open water diver certification.
Through the PADI Open Water Diver course, scuba diving has become a hobby for everyone, rather than an activity reserved for elite athletes and swimmers. By breaking down every process into distinct pieces for easy consumption, the learning material makes it easy for the masses.
The same approach to learning extends all the way up to the divemaster and instructor levels. There are several aspects of the PADI system that instructors must adhere to, including what is taught and how it is taught, making the PADI system incredibly consistent across the globe.
Being the dominant agency, there are some criticisms. One criticism is that PADI constantly tries to upsell its customers to take more advanced courses.
For example, the last chapter of the PADI Open Water Diver Course is basically a pitch for divers to take the Advanced Open Water Diver course, the next step up the PADI rung.
PADI is for-profit, and this sometimes shows in their materials, causing many to jokingly referring to PADI as Put Another Dollar In.
NAUI – National Association of Underwater Instructors
NAUI was established in 1959 and is the oldest certifying agency in the world. The NAUI even counted Jacques Cousteau as one of its advisory board members at one time.
NAUI is one of the few remaining large non-profit agencies around. NAUI has built a reputation that has earned it a spot as the certification agency for many colleges and universities, the US Navy, and even NASA.
NAUI offers both classroom and home-study training programs, and their certification process includes a written exam, sessions in a swimming pool, and five open water dives.
SDI – Scuba Divers International
SDI is the recreational division of Technical Diving International, the world’s largest tech diving training organization. Since 1999, SDI has gained over 2200 authorized dealers worldwide, placing it just behind SSI in size.
The SDI Open Water Diver Course is unique. First of all, all students are required to have modern dive computers for their Open Water course and start using them on day one.
However, this is also considered a criticism since should a computer fail, the user is left without an alternative method of dive planning.
In addition, SDI offers the Solo Diver certification, the only certification available for diving alone. All other agencies require diving with a buddy at all times. SDI is likely to have been influenced by its origins as an offshoot of TDI, where diving alone is the norm.
SSI – Scuba Schools International
SSI was founded in 1970 and now has over 2400 offices in 110 countries. A unique feature of SSI is that all training takes place through one of their worldwide centers.
Despite this centralized approach, SSI gives its diving instructors more freedom when it comes to how material is presented, allowing instructors to adjust presentation style to meet the needs of students.
The SSI training style emphasizes comfort through repetition. In addition, they require five open water training dives for certification, instead of the four required by most other agencies for open water certification.
There are many scuba diving schools out there in addition to these main ones. Here are a few more.
- BSAC – British Sub-Aqua Club (UK)
- CMAS – Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (France)
- IANTD – International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers (a tech-diving agency)
- TDI – Technical Diving International (another tech agency)
💰 Open Water Diver Certification Cost
How much an Open Water Diver Certification costs depends on which agency you take your Open Water Course with and where you are taking it. As a general rule, a scuba course will be pricier in the US and Europe than in Asia.
|PADI||$300 – $700|
|NAUI||$300 – $1,000|
|SDI||$250 – $800|
|SSI||$300 – $600|
📰 What Are The Minimum Requirements For Scuba Diving Certification?
While scuba diving is a sport for the masses, you’ll still need to meet a few minimum requirements if you want to be a certified scuba diver.
The minimum age to start diving varies by training agency, but in most areas it is 10 years old.
Divers who are younger will obtain junior-level certification and may have shallower depth limits. Eventually, these junior certifications will be upgraded.
You should be relatively in good health. All student divers must complete a medical form that highlights any history or conditions that might stop you from diving safely.
In order to scuba dive safely, you must declare and have cleared any preexisting medical conditions with a medical professional.
It is tempting to lie, we often hear our potential students ask us whether they can simply say “no” to all conditions, but scuba diving can be dangerous and the effects of pressure on the body can exacerbate certain conditions. Don’t lie!
To demonstrate that you can handle yourself in the water and demonstrate your comfort in the water, you’ll need to demonstrate basic water skills.
During your open water course, your instructor will make you:
- Swim 200 meters unaided, or 300 meters with a mask, fins, and a snorkel without stopping.
- Float and tread water for 10 minutes
🌊 What Is The Open Water Diver Certification?
The Open Water Diver Course typically consists of three parts.
The theoretical part of the course involves learning dive theory through course materials such as books and video.
Some schools offer e-learning so you can start on your course at home so you can minimize the time you spend in classroom sessions for the open water diver course during your scuba diving vacation.
Once completed online, you’ll be in good shape to prepare for your final examination in the form of a multiple choice test. Don’t worry, it is a pretty easy examination and even if you do fail, your instructor can give you another chance once the mistakes have been discussed and analyzed.
Confined Water Training
A comprehensive list of water skills will be taught in a series of pool dives.
Confined water training in a pool is the first encounter you will have with your dive equipment and breathing underwater.
It takes place in a pool or other body of water that is specifically set up for scuba diving instruction. In confined water training, you will learn the basic skills needed to go scuba diving safely.
These skills include how to breathe underwater, how to use your scuba gear, and how to stay safe while scuba diving.
Open Water Training
Now comes the fun part! This will be your first foray into the underwater world and a crucial part of life. No one can forget their first dive, not even the most seasoned dive professional.
You will make four open water dives (some agencies have 5) over several days and repeat the skills that you practice during your pool dives. Once you successfully complete all the open water dives, you can then become scuba certified, get your certification card and be officially called scuba diver! Yay!
💭 Not Ready To Get Scuba Certified?
Don’t want to take the plunge yet? No worries. Many dive centers and agencies offer a one-day “try-diving” type of course, like PADI’s Discover Scuba, a precursor to the PADI Open Water Certification.
In the Discover Scuba course, you’ll be taught very basic skills and go on one or two dives under the close supervision of the dive instructor.
Once you’ve experienced the underwater world, if you decide to get scuba certified, the skills you’ve learned can count towards the PADI Open Water Certification.
How Much Does It Cost To Scuba Dive Around The World?
In addition to the Open Water Diver Course fees, you might want to check with your local dive shop on the inclusions. Certain courses are all-inclusive but some dive shops might have some hidden costs. Ask about:
- Is rental gear included by the dive center?
- Are course materials like the book and RDP included?
- Are scuba diving certification fees included?
- Are there any more costs associated with the scuba diving course?
The average price of scuba diving certification is about US $500 in Europe and the US, and about $350 in Asia. The Caribbean and Australia courses cost slightly more.
I Got My Scuba Diving Certification! Now What?
Congratulations! Now it’s time to enjoy being a scuba diver and go on a dive trip!
Diving is a great way to explore the world’s amazing marine life and aquatic ecosystems. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Choose the right dive destination. When selecting a destination, make sure to consider the climate and weather conditions in that area. Also, be sure to research the dive sites in that area and choose one that suits your interests and experience level.
2. Book your dive trip in advance. Many dive destinations are popular among divers, so it’s important to book your trip well in advance to ensure availability.
3. Learn about the local diving regulations. Each country has its own set of regulations regarding the permitted equipment, time limits, and depth limits. Any local dive shop should be able to help you with this.
4. Pack your own scuba gear if you have any properly. Pack all of your diving equipment in a bag that can be easily carried to the dive boat. Don’t forget your open water certification card!
Scuba diving prices will differ according to location and dive shops. Expect to pay $30 in some budget parts of Asia, and up to $150 in the premium places like Hawaii or the Caribbean.
Most dive shops are located close to each other in a dive destination and are likely to offer competitive prices.
How Much Does It Cost To Be A Scuba Diver?
In addition to the Open Water Certification cost, you’ll need a few things if you want to pursue a long and happy life as a scuba diver.
It will cost about US $400 to $600 to get scuba certified. Additional training like the Advanced Diver Course to allow you to go deeper and improve your scuba skills costs more or less the same or slightly cheaper than the Open Water Course.
In addition to the scuba certification cost, now, once you are scuba certified, you’ll pay a set rate per fun dive.
Scuba diving prices depend on the location you are diving in, and the rates offered by the dive shop. Most dive shops are located in the same area and have competitive scuba dive prices.
Do You Need Gear To Go Scuba Diving?
Nope! Most dive centers will happily rent you gear at a cost. Show them your open water certification and away you go!
However, you might be more comfortable with some basic gear of your own, especially those that depend on a deep personal preference and fit.
A mask and wetsuit are two examples of gear that new divers should have. If you want more gear, you can rent gear from the dive center before buying to try it out.
📌 Final Thoughts On Scuba Diver Certification
Scuba diving is not the cheapest hobby, we know. However, nothing else opens up a whole new world like diving. Not even snorkeling!
Most divers remain divers because of the amazing underwater experiences they’ve had, and their desire to see more.
Once you have your Open Water Diver Certification, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the amazing world beneath the waves – all at a fraction of the cost of a luxury cruise! Are you ready to start planning your next diving adventure?