If you dream of swimming among exotic fish and exploring the world’s most breathtaking coral reefs and underwater habitats, learning how to scuba dive can help you make the dream a reality. Plan to spend $300-$600 on scuba certification and training and basic gear, depending where you live and whether the course you take includes pool use and any fees associated with open-water dive sessions. A scuba certification course includes technical training in a classroom or online course as well as hands-on instruction in a swimming pool and open water. The certification exam is administered by an instructor with the required scuba certification.
Learning to dive and gaining the knowledge and experience you need to get scuba certified can often be done over the course of one or two weekends, depending on the availability of space for training in a swimming pool and open water, according to Dev Spradlin, owner and dive instructor at NARQ’d Scuba in Chester, Virginia. Factors that affect the average cost of scuba certification are the location of the scuba lessons, the timing of the courses and any additional technical training you may need.
Scuba training and certification
At NARQ’d Scuba, Spradlin offers scuba training and certification for $300-$350, which he says is typical in his area. The $350 training option Spradlin offers includes a self-paced online course designed by Scuba Diving International (SDI), which is affiliated with two other well-known dive training organizations, Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI) and Technical Diving International (TDI).
A former U.S. Marine, Spradlin has 18 years of experience as a dive instructor and is certified through SDI as a master instructor. His training included passing an instructor development course, handling emergencies in open-water dive situations and being certified as a rescue diver.
Pool and open-water training
Learning how to scuba dive typically involves two sessions in a swimming pool and another two sessions in open water. Both are included in the NARQ’d Scuba training cost. Spradlin usually takes students to the local YMCA for pool sessions and Lake Phoenix in Rawlings, Virginia, for open-water dives. Spradlin has the necessary qualification as a master diver to take 8-10 students out at a time, but he prefers groups of 6 students for pool and open-water sessions.
Part of scuba training and certification includes learning the necessary technical knowledge and physics of diving. Spradlin says the self-paced, online training he offers through SDI is the most flexible option because scheduling in-person classes can be difficult for a group of 20 students. In addition to mastering basic knowledge of dive physics, you must learn about all of the equipment and what it does — for example, the buoyancy compensator, which helps you control your position underwater; the regulator, which lets you breathe underwater; and the submersible pressure gauge, which tells you how much air is left in your tank.
Plan to spend $100-$150 for a mask, fins, snorkel and dive booties, the basic gear required to dive. Additional equipment, such as air tanks, regulators, and wetsuits or dry suits, will cost extra, but are often available to rent at scuba destinations.
Passing the scuba certification test
If your scuba instructor has the proper qualifications, he or she can administer your certification. Spradlin says he will only certify students who can demonstrate that they are safe, competent divers. If a student does not pass certification, he offers them a chance to retake necessary parts of the course for free.