PADI Certification explained for new scuba divers

Many people are interested in learning to scuba dive but are not sure where or how to start or what is involved in dive training and certification. We realize that looking at courses and charts online can be confusing, so we are hoping to clarify what is involved for new divers to get certified.

PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is the largest certifying agency for scuba divers in the world by far. Certifications from PADI are recognized everywhere and PADI divers and professionals can be found in all corners of the globe.

For those that have never been diving before, there are a couple options available in terms of experience programs or certification courses for you. Some individuals are intrigued by the idea of diving but not certain whether or not it is for them and both PADI and our Vancouver dive shop recognize that. If this is the case, you may wish to try it with a Discover Scuba. This experience takes place over one evening and includes some knowledge development in the classroom and some time in water in a local pool on scuba. It is designed to introduce you to diving, the equipment and some basic skills and concepts. This is the best way to decide if diving is for you without committing to an entire certification course.

If you are more certain that you want to learn to dive and earn a certification than the PADI Open Water course is the most popular way to become a certified diver.

First of all, what does “certification” mean in this sense? In a way, it is earning your recreational license to scuba dive. As a certified diver you are able to rent scuba equipment, book dives around the world and get tanks filled with compressed air.

The PADI Open Water certification licenses you to dive with another certified diver to 60ft/18m during daylight hours in conditions equal to or better than those you are trained in. Diving is a buddy or team sport, so no matter what qualification you earn you are expected to always dive with at least one other qualified person; however, as a certified diver that person does not need to be a professional and can be any other certified diver. This means it is a lot of fun to take the course with a friend or relative, but it isn’t necessary.

There are a few ways to get certified

By far the most common way to do so is to join one of our regularly scheduled Open Water courses. These are group courses held with low student to instructor ratios so that all students receive individual attention. We have a new course beginning every 3 weeks or so. They include 8 sessions that run over the period of approximately 2.5 weeks. Sessions are broken down into class and pool sessions and 2 academic sessions held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings for 2 weeks followed by a weekend of ocean dives (2 dives each day = 4 dives total). After this is completed you will log your dives, fill out certification paperwork and log your dives.

If this schedule does not meet your needs there are alternatives. One option is to book a private Open Water course which can be tailored to your schedule as long as a pool and instructor are available. This is a popular option for those in a hurry to get a course done before a trip abroad, but some opt to go this route just for the personalized instruction that they receive in a private program.

Another option is to start your course with a Open Water Referral course. This simply means you complete the class and pool portion of the regular Open Water course with us and finish it with another PADI facility or dive instructor elsewhere. This is a popular option for those with trips already booked to tropical destinations. The only caveat is that the course must be completed within a year.

Still another option for those that need more flexibility than the regular Open Water course provides is to complete the academic portion of the course through PADI eLearning. What this means is instead of doing a portion of self-stud to be reviewed and expanded through our regularly scheduled classroom sessions students complete all their academics online and join us for the pool and ocean training only.

You receive a certification card that is good for life (though a refresher is strongly recommended if you go a significant period of time without diving) and serves as a prerequisite for further training if you wish.

Keep in touch with your local dive shop

At IDC we also include a free scuba dive equipment rental to use after your course. We encourage people to continue diving once certified (because that’s the point, isn’t it?) and we try to help you do just that. We also arrange community fun dives on a regular basis, most of which are suitable to Open Water divers so that people can get out on a dive even if they don’t have friends or family that dive.