Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) is the kit you will need to explore the fascinating landscapes, flora and fauna found below the surface in either fresh or salt water. However, before you can dive in (quite literally), you need the all-important C-Card. This demonstrates that you have been trained to the level stated on it and will enable you to:
- enjoy diving unsupervised in similar water conditions to those you have been trained in
- rent or buy scuba equipment
- get refills for your air tanks when needed
Who Can Get SCUBA Certification?
Anyone who is physically fit can begin scuba training as young as ten. At this age, children must be accompanied by a parent or qualified instructor when diving. At between 12 and 15 years of age, there is a Junior Diver’s Certificate permitting them to dive with any qualified adult. There is actually a US Scouts Badge in the subject! The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) courses are the best known. At 15 years and above, the full Open Water Certification can be accessed.
You do not have to be a brilliant swimmer but you do need to demonstrate that you can swim 200 meters without stopping (in any stroke) and tread water for ten minutes before you are accepted on a course.
To determine your fitness for this sport, you will find it helpful to download and complete the questionnaire available on the World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC) web site. This will help you to understand the physical demands of diving and you may require further consultation with your Doctor before making a decision.
How Long Does It Take?
Once you have decided to get started, you could do so within minutes if you really cannot wait! The academic side of the training can be done online if you wish – and you can sign up for a course immediately.
The other two parts of the course must be done with a qualified instructor. The first part is the Confined Water training which takes place in the safety of a pool. The second part is the Open Water Training. Finding a suitable instructor is not too difficult. It is as important to find one who is very experienced, as it is to find someone with whom you feel comfortable and whose teaching methods ‘gel’ with you. You might like to do a ‘taster’ class before committing to a particular course.
Getting Your Open Water Certification is generally said to take about 35 hours and comprises the academic section plus four dives in the open water conditions you will be diving in (either lake or ocean). Once you have completed the required you get your certification and the C-card which has your photograph on it. This will prove that you are a certified diver! Once you have qualified, your qualification never expires, although you may want to take review or refresher courses to ensure your skills are up to date.
What Courses Are Available?
There are many different courses that you can do, from intermediate courses such as the advanced open water course or the adventure diver course. There are special courses dealing with first aid and rescue right through to professional qualifications such as dive master or assistant instructor. In addition, there are environmental, specialty and technical courses. Getting your SCUBA Certification will open up new possibilities for you and there are many levels and directions you could take once you have the basic accreditation.