How Long Does it Take to Get Scuba Certified?

So you want to explore the gorgeous underwater world and are thinking of getting your scuba diving certification. Firstly, congratulations! Your world will never be the same as a certified diver that gets to enjoy much more of this planet we live in.

The Open Water Diver Course is the way to earn your recreational scuba diving certification. Courses range from three to four days, depending on the training agency and whether you do the theoretical part outside of the dive center.

There are numerous training agencies, but by far, the biggest and most prominent certifying agency is PADI. PADI certification generally takes four days but can be rushed into three. Other agencies include:

  • NAUI – National Association Of Underwater Instructors
  • SDI – Scuba Divers International
  • SSI – Scuba Schools International
  • BSAC – British Sub-Aqua Club (UK)
  • CMAS – Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (France)

While the open water diver course varies slightly across each agency, the majority of the course components required to get scuba certified remain largely the same.

📚 Scuba Diving Course Components

There are three parts to the scuba certification – Knowledge Development, Confined Water Training, and Open Water Training.

Knowledge Development

This is the theoretical part of the course, often taught in a series of videos, a manual, and answering several quizzes at the end of each chapter. It also involves taking a final exam at the end of the course to verify that you have understood the academic lessons and have a solid understanding of basic dive physics and physiology.

It is often time-consuming, and you can take several hours to go through the dive course materials in a classroom setting.

Fret not! The good news is that many training agencies allow you to do the knowledge development, or theoretical part of the course in the comfort of your own home through e-learning before you show up at the dive center for dives in a swimming pool.

Other dive shops might have printed manuals for you to take home and learn from in your own time.

E-learning is especially helpful if you’re intending to do your scuba certification during a vacation. You certainly don’t want to spend your precious vacay time stuck in a classroom studying and watching videos!

Scuba knowledge development

Confined Water Dives

The second component to the open water course is a few confined dives. Confined water refers to a swimming pool, or in the absence of one, a similar pool like environment like a calm bay, or lake.

You’ll be taught all about your scuba gear and how to put everything together onto the scuba tank.

Then, after you’ve successfully set up your scuba diving equipment, you’ll be taught basic scuba skills and practice them in the pool before performing them again in your open water training dives.

The number of dives in the pool can depend greatly on the training agency. Some might choose to have five pool training sessions, while others might choose to have four training sessions, especially if students learn fast and master the skills quickly.

While the number of pool dives isn’t set in stone, the scuba diving skills certainly are. All skills have to be performed adequately in a pool to the satisfaction of diving instructors, before going out for your open water dives.

Open Water Dives

Once you’ve mastered the scuba skills in the pool, now comes the fun part! You’ll perform between four to five dives in the open waters of the ocean or a lake, performing the same basic skills you have been drilling in the pool.

These dives will take place over a minimum of two days, and are the culmination of skills and knowledge you gained throughout your certification course.

After your final dive, if you haven’t already, you’ll have to take an exam and pass it with flying colors to finally be a certified scuba diver.

All in all, your open water dive certification training will take approximately 30 to 40 hours of your time. Don’t rush through it, thorough training is crucial to scuba dive safely, especially for beginner divers.

Scuba diving lessons can be a lot of fun, so choose your scuba instructor and dive center wisely!

Open water diving

❔ Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need To Rent Equipment From The Scuba Dive Shop?

It is unlikely. Most dive shops have rental gear included in the price of the open water diver package. Also, check if there are any additional fees associated with the certification process. Some dive shops calculate certification card fees paid to the training agencies as a separate cost.

I Am A Scuba Diver! Now What?

Go diving! Whether you want a much-needed vacation, or if you’re lucky enough to be able to head to a nearby dive site, time to put those scuba lessons to good use. If you don’t use it, you might lose it!

If you haven’t been diving for several months after your open water course, you might want to look into taking a scuba refresher course.

If you decide that diving is for you, you might want to look into further training. The Advanced Open Water Diver certification takes two to three days and is a lot of fun. The Advanced Diver gets to go to 30-meter depths as opposed to the 18-meter limit imposed on the Open Water Diver.

Further training after the Advanced Open Water Certification course include Rescue Diver, Emergency First Responder, and the Divemaster certification, which is the first step in professional level certifications.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Scuba Diving Certified?

How much it costs to get certified largely depends on where you are taking your course, which agency you are doing your dive training dive, and the pricing by your local dive shop. Dive centers usually price their courses quite competitively and will not differ too crazily on pricing.

As a general rule, course package price is higher in the US, Europe, and exotic places like the Caribbean. The diving industry in Asia is flourishing, with a huge available of courses at affordable prices.

The PADI certification in Asia costs about US$300 to $500 while that in the US can cost $500 to $700.

PADI online learning
Source: Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI)

I’m Game! What Do I Need?

Rules vary depending on the operator, so check with your local dive center. You’ll probably have to fill in a medical form to ascertain that you are fit to dive. Then, you’ll sign an indemnity waiving your dive center and instructor of all legal fault if something were to happen to you.

Then, make sure you can fulfill the swim test requirements to be certified. Your instructor will have you swim 200 meters unaided, or 300 meters with a mask, fins, and a snorkel.

In addition, you’ll have to float comfortably and tread water for 10 minutes.

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