How to Get Scuba Certified in a Few Easy Steps

BY: Sarah Gorr |Jul 24, 2017

After a few hours at the beach of soaking up the sun and skimming the latest thriller, you might start getting restless. Isn't there something else to do? It's that boredom that might lead you to wonder how to get scuba certified. After all, there's an entire world of unseen wonders waiting just below the surf! But maybe you're worried about more than just how to get scuba certified. You could be thinking, "How old do you have to be to scuba dive?" "How much do scuba lessons cost?" "What are sharks, and should I be worried about them?" All those questions are perfectly reasonable, but you shouldn't let them stop you from seeing an undersea wonderland. We'll walk you through exactly what it takes to get certified, as well as answer some common questions along the way.

The Basics

There are a lot of scuba certifications out there, but we'll be focusing on the PADI Open Water Diver course. It's easily available, well respected, and as of 2016 has awarded more than 25 million diving certifications around the world.

  • Time commitment: Three to four days for full certification, including approximately 12 hours of classes that can be completed online.
  • Age requirements: Most centers will require kids to be aged 15 or older, but there are junior courses available for those as young as 10.
  • Physical requirements: Students should already be decent swimmers able to swim 200 meters (no time limit, use any strokes) and float or tread water for 10 minutes.
  • Number of dives: Everyone will complete at least three to four pool dives and up to four open-water dives.

How much do scuba lessons cost?

A standard rate for the full PADI Open Water course is $499, but you can save nearly half that with a deal on a scuba class near you. Here are a few of our favorite scuba deals from around the country:

Do I have to live near the ocean to take the course?

Not at all! You can find PADI certification courses all across the country and abroad. Open water dives can take place in lakes and quarries, which means you won't have to buy a plane ticket to complete the class if you're not lucky enough to live on the water. That said, there are many certification packages that pair the course with a trip to one of the world's great reefs—nothing like pairing education with vacation, am I right?

What do PADI certification classes cover?

Because PADI classes all follow the same basic curriculum, it's easy to get an idea of what the certification classes are like. You'll definitely want to check with your local dive center for specifics, but here's a good general outline of what to expect:

1. In the classroom

All courses begin with a classroom component, whether online or in person, that introduces you to all the basics from safety to equipment.

2. At the pool

Once you complete the coursework, you're ready for pool or enclosed water dives where you'll learn how to set up your gear, get water out of your mask, basic underwater navigation, safety techniques, and more.

3. In the open water

Open water dives are the final component of the certification process and focus on getting you comfortable in the open water, while reinforcing what you've learned so far.

How long does scuba certification last?

This one's easy: forever! Once you're certified, you're certified for life. That doesn't mean you have to stop taking classes, though. You can always get a refresher or up your skills with rescue and shipwreck diving and more.

Now that you know what's in store for you, you can sign up for a class and start exploring.

Not sure where to go for a scuba adventure? Check out our collection of beach vacations!