Learn To Dive

How Do I Get Scuba Certified?

When I’m out and about evangelizing about scuba diving people often ask me “What do I need to do to get scuba certified”.

So here’s the official DiveWithFrank guide to getting your Open Water Scuba Diver certification.

Step 1 : Discover Scuba (Optional)

Sign up for a Discover Scuba Diving experience.  This consists of spending an evening in a swimming pool learning some basic things about diving, how to be safe, and most importantly strapping on some gear and seeing how you enjoy the sensation of breathing underwater.  This is a relatively low-cost and low commitment way to literally test the waters.  And it’s the way I started.

Step 2 : Purchase some gear

Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to sign up for the PADI Open Water Diver course it’s time to purchase a little personal gear.  In fact, why not get gear at the same time you’re signing up for class?  While students don’t need to purchase a whole scuba kit or anything, they need to purchase a scuba mask, snorkel, fins, boots, and weight belt.  We buy these things because they’re personal to you and really need to fit you.  Support your local dive shop and get some great gear that has been properly sized.  I hate to see students dealing with the aggravation of ill-fitting gear.

Step 3 : Sign up for the PADI Open Water Diver course

So, once you’ve decided to take the plunge and learn how to dive it’s time to sign up for the PADI Open Water Diver course.  This is the basic course that will take you on your first steps into the water.  And it consists of three parts which can all be done together with the same shop…or totally independently.


Step 3, Part 1 : Course Academics

Academic Option 1: The academic portion of the PADI Open Water Diver course can be done through normal classroom sessions (5 sessions of about 1.5 hours each).  Each session we do a safety concepts review, knowledge review, and a short unit test.  At the end of session 5 we do our final exam.

Academic Option 2: At your leisure do your academics through eLearning.  With eLearning I’ll still want to take you through the safety concepts review, but you get to skip the knowledge reviews, unit tests, and final test…since you do these during your eLearning.  Also, in lieu of the final, students do a short quick review.  The upside of eLearning is the total flexibility you get..study when you want, and less time spent in the classroom.

Step 3, Part 2 : Confined Water Training

The confined water training portion of the PADI Open Water Diver course consists of 5 sessions of roughly 2 hours each spent learning and mastering the basic skills of scuba diving.  This is typically done at one of our local swimming pools.

Step 3, Part 3 : Open Water Checkout Dives

The open water checkout dives are when and where the student gets to demonstrate their newly acquired scuba skills in a real body of water.  Sometimes it’s in a quarry, sometimes it’s in the ocean.  Checkout dives consist of 4 dives over two days (typically a weekend).

Remember that each of these three parts can be done at the same shop, with the same instructor, or they can be broken up.  The most common situation being students blowing out of here to do their checkout dives someplace MUCH warmer 🙂

So there you have it!  These are the steps to getting your Open Water certification.

Step 4 : Get your butt into the water!

Now that you’re certified get into the water as often as possible.  You are now certified to go down to as deep at 60 feet.  Dive within your limits and have fun!  Diving isn’t a sprint…it’s more of a marathon.  So take your time, relax, and explore the brand new (to you) underwater world!

If you’ve got questions you know where to find me.