Scuba Diving … How to Get Started

Scuba diving is an activity that attracts thousands of enthusiasts. Perhaps the draw is being able to venture to the depths of the ocean and view marine life that is so foreign to the creatures that reside on land. There is also the adventure and freedom associated with being able to swim like a fish in an underwater realm.

Not just anyone can take to the water and begin scuba diving. A rewarding hobby, it requires an individual have training and certification prior to being able to don the equipment and explore area waters.

In the United States, the two well-known and recognized organizations that govern scuba training and certification are  the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Most dive stores, diver training programs, and dive instructors are associated with one of these groups. 

Learning to scuba dive is a process that can take several weeks. The course is generally performance-based, so you progress only as fast as you master the skills. Most scuba programs involve book study and class work, followed by an exam. Afterward, you will likely have pool practice to put into effect the lessons you learned from classes, books and by watching recommended videos. Students then move on to diving in open water with an instructor. After an established number of dives as required by the program, you will be certified. You need to be certified and have a card and log book to be able to dive at most scuba locations. Check with the scuba instructor on the age requirement. Children as young as 11 or 12 may be eligible to become certified.

The expenses associated with scuba diving are higher at the onset, as you’ll need to pay for classes, certification and gear. It could be anywhere from a $700 to $1000 investment initially. After that, the cost of diving will be relative to the location in which you are diving and their associated costs.

You generally do not have to be a master swimmer to scuba dive. You simply need to be comfortable and calm in the water. You should also expect to come in contact with marine life and be prepared for this. Fish are usually shy and will keep their distance from you. However, some are curious and may follow you around on a dive.

Most instructors will tell you that scuba diving is a relatively safe activity, provided you have had the proper training and certification. There may be more risk from driving a car than diving. Also, it’s unlikely that you will be attacked by a fish or other marine animal if unprovoked. So don’t let that scare you off from scuba diving.

Another concern people have regarding scuba diving is something called “the bends.” This is another name for decompression sickness. It is caused by staying under the water too long breathing compressed air and then resurfacing too fast. Tiny bubbles would form in the joints causing a person to bend over in pain. Today’s new technology and training helps divers to safely dive within the limits so that they can avoid “the bends.”     

Scuba diving schools are all over the country and in popular tourist locations. You can also visit for more information about centers near you.