What are the requirements for learning to scuba dive?
If you have a passion for excitement and adventure, chances are you can become an avid PADI Diver. You'll also want to keep in mind these requirements:
The minimum age is 10 years old (in most areas). Student divers who are younger than 15 earn the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification, which they may upgrade to PADI Open Water Diver certification upon reaching 15. Children under the age of 13 require parent or guardian permission to register for PADI eLearning.
All student divers complete a brief scuba medical questionnaire that asks about medical conditions that could be a problem while diving. If none of these apply, sign the form and you’re ready to start. If any of these apply to you, your doctor must, as a safety precaution, assess the condition as it relates to diving and sign a medical form that confirms you’re fit to dive. In some areas, local laws require all scuba students to consult with a physician before entering the course. Download the scuba medical questionnaire.
Basic Water Skills
Before completing the PADI Open Water Diver course, your instructor will have you demonstrate basic water skills to be sure you’re comfortable in the water, including:
Swim 200 metres/yards (or 300 metres/yards in mask, fins and snorkel) without stopping. There is no time limit for this, and you may use any swimming strokes you want. You also need to float and tread water for 10 minutes, again using any methods you want.
Any individual who can meet the performance requirements of the course qualifies for certification. There are many adaptive techniques that allow individuals with physical challenges to meet these requirements. People with paraplegia, amputations and other challenges commonly earn the PADI Open Water Diver certification. Even individuals with more significant physical challenges participate in diving. Reach out to YAY Scuba for more information.
Each diver must have a personal set of the learning materials to use during the course and for reference after the course. There are several options available, depending on your learning style and technology preference, including:
PADI Open Water Diver eLearning
PADI Open Water Diver Manual, and watching the Open Water Diver Video on DVD either on your own or with your instructor
YAY Scuba can provide one of the options above as part of the course enrollment process. You’ll also need a logbook and a dive-planning device such as a dive computer, and RDP table.
COMMON PROBLEMS AND INJURIES
My ears hurt when I go to the bottom of a swimming pool or when I dive down snorkeling. Will that prevent me from becoming a scuba diver?
No, assuming you have no irregularities in your ears and sinuses. The discomfort is the normal effect of water pressure pressing in on your ear drums. Fortunately, our bodies are designed to adjust for pressure changes in our ears – you just need to learn how. If you have no difficulties adjusting to air pressure during flying, you'll probably experience no problem learning to adjust to water pressure while diving.
Will a history of ear troubles, diabetes, asthma, allergies or smoking preclude someone from diving?
Not necessarily. Any condition that affects the ears, sinuses, respiratory or heart function, or may alter consciousness is a concern, but only a doctor can assess a person’s individual risk. Doctors can consult with the Divers Alert Network (DAN) as necessary when assessing fitness to dive. Download the medical statementto take to your doctor.
What are the most common injuries or issues associated with diving?
Sunburn, seasickness and dehydration, all of which are preventable, are the most common problems divers face. Injuries caused by marine life, such as scrapes and stings, do occur, but these can be avoided by wearing an exposure suit, staying off the bottom and watching where you put your hands and feet.
DO I HAVE TO BE A GOOD SWIMMER TO SCUBA DIVE?
Some swimming ability is required. You need to have basic swim skills and be able to comfortably maintain yourself in the water. Your PADI Instructor will assess this by having you:
Swim 200 metres/yards (or 300 metres/yards with mask, fins and snorkel). There is no time limit for this, and you may use any swimming strokes you want.
Float and tread water for 10 minutes, again using any methods you want.
Any individual who can meet the performance requirements of the course qualifies for certification. There are many adaptive techniques that allow individuals with physical challenges to meet these requirements. People with paraplegia, amputations and other challenges commonly earn the PADI Open Water Diver certification. Even individuals with more significant physical challenges participate in diving. Talk to our PADI Instructor at YAY SCUBA! to get more information.
WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO GET CERTIFIED?
All PADI Dive Centers and Resorts worldwide adhere to the same training standards, so no matter where you are there’s likely a PADI Instructor ready to teach you how to scuba dive. Decide where the best place for you is by contacting us to find out what options are available.
WHERE CAN I DIVE?
You can dive practically anywhere there's water – from a swimming pool to the ocean and all points in between, including quarries, lakes, rivers and springs. Where you can scuba dive is determined by your:
For example, if you've just finished your PADI Open Water Diver course, you probably won't be diving under the Antarctic ice on your next dive. But, don't limit your thinking to the warm, clear water you see in travel magazines. Some of the best diving is closer than you think. We even have options to dive locally here in Maryland.
Your local dive site can be anything from a special pool built just for divers like one found in UAE or Poland, or more typically natural sites like Belize's Great Blue Hole, Australia's Great Barrier Reef or Roatan. It may be a manmade reservoir or a fossil-filled river. It's not always about great visibility because what you see is more important than how far you see.
The only truly important thing about where you dive is that you have the scuba diving training and experience appropriate for diving there, and that you have a dive buddy to go with you. YAY Scuba is happy to help you organize great local diving or a dive vacation. Talk to us today to get started.
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How It Works
Validating the quality of the PADI System of diver education, many institutions and national educational councils around the world recommend PADI scuba courses for college credit, occupational certificates or educational funding. Find out more here.
The American Council on Education (ACE) through its College Credit Recommendation Service has evaluated and recommended college credit for 25 PADI courses and the Emergency First Response Instructor course. ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions.