Getting Your PADI certification
Scuba diving can be dangerous if you do not know what you are doing. With the proper education and training, scuba injuries are infrequent and minor. That’s why it is always recommended that you dive with an instructor or—if you are qualified—diving with a buddy. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors keeps people safe and makes it easy for you to learn. A PADI certification is the most widely recognized certification. That means it will be easier to book a diving trip or rent equipment. It also means that there are more certification classes out there and courses you can take. Before you take a course, you must be a good swimmer and able to handle the physical task of scuba diving.
There are two beginner types of diving certification through PADI. They are Diver and Open Water. The Diver class is better if you are short on time or if you always want an instructor around. The Open Water course takes longer but you get more diving freedoms once you have successfully completed it.
Both courses start with education. You can do this online, in a classroom, or at a dive shop. If you have never done it before and are not familiar with the oxygen tanks, masks, and respirators needed to dive it is better to do in person. You will learn all about the gear, safe diving procedures, and other information regarding diving in these classes. The Open Water course will go into more depth.
Next, you will complete confined water dives. These are often in a pool or very shallow water. You will do more of these if you are doing the Open Water course. During these confined dives, you will put into use the information you learned in the education class. This is an excellent time to get all your questions answered and to practice safety procedures. It allows you to get familiar with the gear through experience instead of just reading about it while keeping you in a safe and controlled environment.
After you perform well enough in confined water dives, you will be ready for open water diving. These dives give you the opportunity to explore and practice your skills in a typical dive situation. You will be diving in real water, with real currents and sea life. You will still have the security of a dive instructor who will step in and help if you have any problems or concerns. It is a great way to determine whether diving is something you want to pursue. The Diver class does about half of the diving required for Open Water diving certification.
The Diver course will allow you to do open water diving up to 40 ft with an instructor. You will be able to rent air tanks, fills, and participate in dives as long as you are supervised.The Open Water diver class allows you to head deeper, between 60 and 130 feet. You will also be eligible for other courses—Advanced Open Water, Adventure Diver, Rescue Diver, and so on.
If you aren’t sure which course to pick, start with the diver course. You can always add the additional training later.