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Do You Need a License to SCUBA Dive?

   March 28th, 2022   Posted In: Articles   Tags:

Do You Need a License to SCUBA Dive?

SCUBA diving is a very exciting sport! However, there are many inherent risks in SCUBA diving that can be avoidable with proper training. Without a license to SCUBA dive, the risks of SCUBA diving are very high.

The first open water diver course in SCUBA diving teaches the basics of the physics, physiology, skills, and equipment used in SCUBA diving. Not knowing these basic principles can result in serious injury or death. For instance, if you just hopped into the water with no knowledge of SCUBA diving, would you know not to hold your breath or not to rapidly ascend? The answer is probably not. These are the basic things learned in the class to receive a license to SCUBA dive.

What Are the Dangers of SCUBA Diving Without a License?

There are many dangers in SCUBA diving that you will learn in a certification course, but the top three dangers of SCUBA diving are:

  1. Diver error: SCUBA diving errors are already a top reason for diver injury or death in certified SCUBA divers. These risks are greatly increased without a license to SCUBA dive. 
  2. Decompression sickness (DCS, also known as “the bends”). There will always be a small risk for DCS even if you have license to SCUBA dive. However, learning how to reduce your risks is very important which is taught in the course.
  3. Lung over-expansion injury (pulmonary barotrauma). If you hold your breath and ascend, the air in your lungs can expand and rupture the lungs. Proper training teaches you how to reduce your risk of lung over-expansion.

Can You Dive Without a License?

The answer to this question is a little tricky. A good diving organization will not allow you to go diving unless you have a SCUBA license or are a student with an instructor. However, many people find themselves on vacation at a beautiful place in the world and decide they want to try SCUBA diving. In this case, the resort might offer what is called a discover SCUBA diving class. There is no license associated with this class. But with a little classroom learning and pool work, an instructor will take you on a dive in the ocean under direct supervision. They will also make sure you have the proper equipment to go SCUBA diving, such as regulators, buoyancy control device, the proper thickness of wetsuit, and even gloves or hoods if you are in a cold water environment.

Do You Need a License for SCUBA Diving

There are no SCUBA police that enforce the need for a license to SCUBA dive. SCUBA diving is privately regulated. However, it is simply not smart to SCUBA dive without proper training. Just like taking a course to learn how to drive on the road reduces your risks of getting in a car accident, learning how to SCUBA dive and obtaining a license reduces your risks of injuring yourself.

A good dive operation such as a shop or dive boat, will not let you even fill a SCUBA tank without showing proof of a license to SCUBA dive. This also helps reduce liability in the case that you injure yourself because you do not have a license.

Can You SCUBA Dive Without a License if Staying Really Shallow?

There is evidence that pulmonary barotrauma or arterial gas embolism can occur in as little as three feet of water. Thus, there is no shallow dive that will eliminate the risks of SCUBA diving.

Where Do You Get a License to SCUBA Dive?

There are several organizations that offer a license for SCUBA diving.  Some of the top organizations are PADI, NAUI, SSI, SDI, and TDI. Depending on where you live, there may be several organizations in your area or only one. Most organizations follow very similar procedures for learning how to SCUBA dive. Choose one that best fits your needs and location. All of these organizations are recognized around the world. A license to SCUBA dive does not expire. However, regular refresher courses should be taken if you have not been in the water in over six months.

How Long Does It Take To Get a SCUBA License?

A basic open water diver course to get a license to SCUBA dive can take a few days to a week or longer. This depends on the location used and instructor availability.

Is It Expensive to Obtain a License to Dive?

It is relatively inexpensive to obtain a SCUBA diving license. The price for a license to SCUBA dive varies depending on your location and organization. Remember, this investment does not expire and opens up a whole new world of underwater adventures!

Candace is an avid scuba diver and freelance writer with a PhD in Biomedicine. She has been diving since 2002 and is currently a PADI IDC Staff Instructor. When she is not instructing, she enjoys writing about scuba and volunteering at the local aquarium where she dives with the sharks!

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