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What It Takes to Get Certified to Scuba Dive
Hundreds of thousands of people get certified to Scuba dive every year. Some of them are doing it for a one-time thrill on their honeymoon. Others are getting certified as a first step, in many, to a (underwater) world of adventure. In either case, taking a beginner lesson and getting your Open Water Scuba Diver or Scuba Diver certification is the first step.
All beginner classes are structured in a similar fashion. The class has two parts, knowledge development and in-water work. Regardless of the agency (whether PADI, NAUI, SSI or SDI), there is little variance in this first step. The most important factor is choosing an instructor with whom you feel comfortable. To get certified as a beginner Scuba diver, you must complete all the knowledge development and pass a final exam and you must "master" your in-water skills. While this may seem daunting, it is generally pretty easy for most people. And, it can be done in as little as a long weekend.
Your Beginner Scuba Diver Course
Most Scuba shops offer mid-week and weekend courses. Beginner classes are broken up into three components. The first component is the knowledge development. This is done using three different strategies (1) self study, (2) classroom lecture, and (3) online learning. Most instructors employ more than one of these strategies to develop a student’s knowledge base.
The second component is confined water sessions. Generally, there are five parts to a confined water session. However, more than one part can be done in a single day or evening. Confined water sessions are done at a pace determined by the student’s performance. Some students excel in confined water, some take more time. Confined water sessions can be done in shallow lakes or oceans, but, most commonly, confined water sessions are done in ten foot deep, heated pools to maximize comfort and relaxation during the early stages of skill development.
The third component is open water sessions. These are a minimum of four dives done in a lake or ocean environment. No more than three training dives are done in one day. During the training dives, students will show mastery of the skills learned during the confined water sessions. Divers can reach up to 60 feet (which is the maximum depth for an Open Water Diver), discover marine life, and live the adventure that is a Scuba diver!
Learn to Scuba dive online
It is the 21st century and the world has taken to educating itself online. Scuba is no different. As mentioned above in the first component of a Scuba class, self study is an integral part of learning to dive. Traditionally, self study has been accomplished through manuals and text books. And, while many folks, still enjoy this method, the trend has brought us to embracing online learning for the self study component. As of this date, in-water sessions cannot be done online... yet.
The Online Learning program needs an Internet connection. It can be done 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. You do it at your pace. Some divers do it all in one session, some divers break it up into several sessions.
Your first class session
OK, you have finished your self study, and tonight is the first night of class. What should you do? Relax, it’s going to be a lot of fun. First off, you should bring all your forms. Your instructor would have given these to you when you signed up. Additionally, you should have all of your self study complete. If you are using the online learning service, print off your completion document. If you are using a textbook, bring copies of your completed knowledge reviews. Eat something light before class — no carbs. If you are in the classroom, bring a notebook, paper, and some water (in a non-spill bottle). There will be breaks. If you are in the pool, you will need to bring your personal gear. This includes, your mask, snorkel, fins, booties, bathing suit, towel, and dry clothes to change into. You may want to bring some ear drying formula for after the pool session. Within a few hours, you will be looking and acting like a new Scuba diver.
Gear for a new Scuba diver
Scuba diving is a gear intensive sport. From the first day of inquiring about Scuba, you have probably been discussing and researching gear. As a new diver, in class, you must own a mask, snorkel, fins with boots, and an underwater timing device. Your gear must be Scuba quality. If you don’t know what that means, you should talk with your instructor. However, as a general rule, if it came in a $20 package at the local pool store, it probably isn’t Scuba quality. When you have jumped in the pool once or twice, it is definitely beneficial to talk about purchasing the rest of your gear with your instructor. Owning Scuba equipment increases your comfort, fun, and safety. Additionally, once you own your gear, Scuba diving is far more economically sensible than most other adventure oriented sports. Of course, like any equipment purchase, you want to buy right and buy once. If you can’t afford or are unsure of purchasing additional equipment, renting is a viable and acceptable second option.
Once you complete your classroom, confined wate, and open water sessions, you will be certified to go Scuba diving with a buddy. This is where the fun and adventure start. However, this is not where the learning stops. A great diver is always learning. Advanced classes will increase your fun and safety. Sign up for your Scuba certification class today. Your adventure of a lifetime is waiting for you.
Have fun and dive safe!