The word scuba is an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus and refers to the equipment which allows properly trained scuba divers to safely explore the underwater environment. At the heart of a scuba diver’s training is learning how this equipment works and the procedures and techniques for its safe use in a course of study that leads to certification.
There are many reasons for wanting to become certified and you will need training before you do so. If you are wanting to travel to the Caribbean on vacation, your certification will be recognized there. There are a few steps here you will want to follow before your pursue your underwater exploration dreams. To start with, your diver training consists of three components: 1. Academic or classroom study, 2. Confined Water or pool training and 3. Open Water training. Entry requirements, training procedures and qualification tests vary around the world. We are going to take a look at what you need to do to become certified.
Are you old enough?
You must me at least 12 years old to become certified.
Is your body ready?
Potential divers can help determine if they are fit for training and participation in the sport by reviewing a simple questionnaire that can be downloaded from the World Recreational Scuba Training Council or International Diving Safety Standards Commission web site. Most often, you will have to sign a release stating that you are physically able to perform all the duties required. Your doctor will most likely have to sign as well. Scuba diving is a lot of fun but also requires that you have some physical capacity as well.
Find an instructor
There is a wide array of instructors available to certify you. Most often, you will get your certification from a business registered to train you and not just an individual trainer. This could vary based on where you live though. Make sure their credentials are current and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Find a place to learn
This runs hand in hand with finding your instructor. Keep in mind the three parts to your training. Most places will offer night and weekend classes if you have a daytime schedule that conflicts. You will need classroom training, pool time and open dive time. Finding someone close to home is beneficial for your time.
What will your cost be?
Some instructors and dive stores charge a flat rate for complete certification while others charge incrementally as training progresses. Some include books and classroom materials in a single price while others charge extra for these usually-required items. Know what the total classroom and pool training will cost and also the charge for the final Open Water training.
What equipment will you need?
Scuba divers need a wide array of equipment to dive. Most of the time, when you are getting certified, the dive shop can rent you most of your equipment that you need. You will normally need your own fins, mouthpiece and snorkel. Scuba diving is a huge investment, so be prepared to purchase some equipment.
Pass your basic water test
The most basic prerequisite to becoming a qualified scuba diver is comfort in the water. In order for you to begin a scuba training course you must first demonstrate to an instructor your ability to swim continuously for 200 yards (182.9 m) and float for 10 minutes, both without aids. Alternatively, if you would like to swim using a mask, fins and a snorkel, you must swim continuously for 300 yards (274.3 m) and then float for 10 minutes without any aids.
Sign up for your classes!
During class registration you will be asked to fill out and sign a version of the WRSTC or the ISSDC medical and fitness guidelines form certifying yourself fit to dive (in the US, a doctor’s written approval is required only if you answer YES to any of the questions on the form). You will also be informed of the inherent risks of scuba diving and must sign appropriate forms acknowledging and assuming those risks prior to being allowed to participate in any water activities. These forms may include one of the following which are used by various training agencies, or one similar in purpose and effect: Liability Release; Waiver and Release of Liability; Affirmation and Liability Release; Assumption of Risk; Limitation of Liability; Safe Diving Practices Statement; Standards for Safety; Statement of Understanding; etc. These liability releases, as their names imply, serve to release your instructor, the dive store and the training agency from all liability, including negligence, should you be injured during your training.