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Scuba Diving | How Do I Become A Certified Scuba Diver?

How do I become a Certified Scuba Diver? How do I learn to scuba dive? How much do scuba lessons cost? Where Can I learn to scuba dive in the UK?

Want to learn how to scuba dive? Unlike surfing and kayaking, you can’t simply turn up at a hire shop and rent scuba diving equipment without any training. To scuba dive anywhere in the world you need to be able to prove you have basic safety and proficiency training, as well as a certain number of hours diving experience already stacked up.

Scuba diving training at a beginner’s level is put in place to make sure divers understand scuba diving equipment and how scuba can effect the body, such as the bends, among other effects.

In the UK there are three main diving certification bodies, the Scuba School International (SSI)  , PADI Diving and British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC), as well as many other smaller diving schools. There is no official certification for diving qualifications, however PADI school of diving is the best known and the most accepted globally.

To get the correct certification to dive abroad, always check the requirements for each place you visit, as they can vary.

How Do I Learn To Scuba Dive?

Photo: Sarah Crichton
Photo: Sarah Crichton

 

Learning to dive in the UK is easier than you’d think. We may not have the clear waters and beautiful reefs of other countries, but we do have great courses available to train you to dive safely.

The first thing you need to do when learning how to dive, is make sure you’re definitely physically ready for the act of scuba diving. Most people who are in good physical health will be suitable for diving, however respiratory issues and a history of infection or asthma could be an issue for some divers. Always make sure you read and fill out a health sheet before starting any diving course.

“To rent equipment and be allowed to dive anywhere, a diver must possess a C-card”

Before you get into the water, all beginner scuba diving courses will make divers spend time learning the theory and safety behind scuba diving. The main reason for this is so you understand the effect of scuba on a human body and what to expect in the water.

Once in the water, divers will learn and practice simple skills with an instructor, such as clearing water from your scuba mask and regulator and communicating with other divers.

What Diving Certifications Do I Need To Scuba Dive?

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A certified scuba diver will always carry a c-c card on their travels Photo: iStock

Different levels of scuba diving, require different qualifications and certifications.

To rent equipment and be allowed to dive anywhere, a diver must possess a   C-card, which states that they have completed a course of training as required by the agency issuing the card.

No matter which agency you choose to train with, scuba diving qualifications come in five stages; Beginner, Advanced,Rescue Diver, Dive Guide and Dive Instructor.

Beginner
Diver must learn to manage themselves and their equipment in the water 
ISO 24801-2 (Autonomous Diver)
PADI Open Water (OWD)
CMAS* (One Star)
SSI Open water Diver (OWD)
NAUI Scuba Diver

Advanced
Underwater navigation, building on skills and deeper water diving
PADI Advanced Open Water
Diver (AOWD)
SSI Advanced Open Water
NAUI Advanced Scuba Diver

Rescue Diver
Learn how to rescue a dive buddy
PADI Rescue Diver (RD)
CMAS** (two star)
SSI Diver Stress And Rescue
NAUI Scuba Rescue Diver

Dive Guide
Diver learns how to plan and lead their own dives
ISO 24801-3 (Dive Leader)
PADI Divemaster (DM)
CMAS*** (three star)
SSI Dive Guide (DG)
NAUI Divemaster (DM)

Dive Instructor
Diver is qualified to teach and certify other divers
ISO 24802-1/2 (scuba instructor)
PADI Open Water Instructor (OWSI)
CMAS* – Instructor (one star)
SSI Open Water Instructor (OWI)
NAUI Instructor

Where Can I Learn To Scuba Dive In The UK?

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Many dive centres in the UK offer courses to make you a certified scuba diver Photo: istock

Most divers in the UK train through a PADI or BASC course, taking the beginner’s course at a specialised dive centre. If you’re pushed for time however, it is possible to find a certified course at a commercial dive centre.

While many dive centres do tend to be based near to the coast, for ease of access when open water diving, there are many all over the United Kingdom, here are a few around the UK that offer certified diving courses:

London – Big Squid (020 7733 6966;www.bigsquid.co.uk)

Scotland – Deep Blue Scuba (0131 220 3636; www.deepbluescuba.co.uk)

Wales – Celtic Diving (01348 871938) .

Nottinghamshire – Mansfield, Beyond Blue (0786 680 7077;www.beyondblue.co.uk).

Plymouth – Aquanauts (01752 228 825; www.aquanauts.co.uk)

Cornwall – Dive Action (01326 280719; www.diveaction.co.uk)

Devon – Teign Diving Centre (01626 773965; www.teigndivingcentre.co.uk

Scarborough – Scarborough Sub Aqua Club (07702 155665; www.scarboroughsubaquaclub.net

Where Can I Learn To Scuba Dive Abroad?

Diver swimming towards a school of yellow Snappers
Certified scuba diver swimming towards a school of yellow Snappers Photo: iStock

Egypt 

The Red Sea in Egypt is ideal for beginner divers because of its year round visibility of 30m. Most Egyptians destinations will have a certified dive centre, however the destination of Dahab is better than most, if you aren’t used to diving as it isn’t as busy as other areas and tends to be less chaotic.

Grenada 

Grenada diving is best known for a wreck dives, however its also a brilliant site for learning to dive. Padi certified dive courses are available on the Grand Anse shoreline, as well as in the smaller resorts.

Australia 

The Great Barrier Reef is the place that jumps to most people’s minds when they hear Australian diving, for it’s amazing marine heritage. While you might imagine that beginner divers might have to work up to such a great location, that’s not the case at all. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the best locations in  Australia for beginner friendly conditions.

Thailand

Got to Ko Tao for year round diving. Beginner’s will find calm, shallow sites like Japanese Gardens and great diving centres, with certified courses available.

U.S 

If you’re in the US, head to Florida Keys Diving Centre. Florida Keys has become one of the best known dive tourism destinations on the planet, especially for wreck dives, but also has an amazing beginner’s culture.

How Much does Scuba Diving Training Cost?

Diver jumping in the water from a day boat in a reef close to El Gouna, Egypt
Certified scuba diver jumping in the water from a day boat in a reef close in Egypt

Diving course prices differ from brand to brand and also country to country. If you want to learn to scuba dive abroad, the price of the course overall will be cheaper.

If you want to learn in the UK however, the price will depend on the course you take, the school you use and the amount of time you take to complete it.

Here are a few prices for the complete beginner courses at the most popular and certified diving boards:

PADI Open Water Diver course – £350- £480

SSI Open Water Diver £300-£450

BSAC Ocean Diver £280-£350

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