How To Get SCUBA Certified
How To Get SCUBA Certified
Starting your SCUBA diving career is a very exciting moment in one’s life. You’ve spent all of your life above ground up until this point and now you have the chance to explore the other 70% of the world!
How To Become SCUBA Certified
If you have done even a little bit of research into getting your SCUBA diving certification, you would have noticed there are dozens of organizations to choose from. From NAUI and SSI to the behemoth PADI, whichever one you choose generally depends on which part of the world you get your certification, and ultimately which one the diving school offers.
Regardless of the organization you choose, your first diving certification is known as an Open Water Diver Certification and each organization follows a similar scuba certification process.
Let’s get into that, shall we?
At The Dive School
Before even touching the water, you are going to want to have some basic knowledge of hand signals and your equipment. Hand signals are imperative when communicating underwater. After all, it’s not like you can talk to anyone to see how they’re doing! Hand signals allow for the most basic communication, like asking if someone is “OK” or telling your instructor how much air is left in your tank.
After that, you’ll learn about the equipment: the stuff that allows you to breathe and glide underwater. The 3 most important tools in your arsenal are the tank, the regulator, and the BCD. The tank contains regular air, not oxygen as many people believe. The tank is then directly connected to the regulator. Your regulator will generally have four hoses with each one attached to an important component of your dive outfit.
One hose connects to your primary mouthpiece while another hose attaches to an “octopus” which is a second mouthpiece for redundancy or helping out a dive partner. A third hose connects to a gauge. There are gauges that show all kinds of information, but most importantly it shows the amount of air left in your tank. The final hose connects to the BCD.
Controlling your buoyancy through the BCD by adding or removing air is paramount when diving comfortably. You don’t want to be knocking into the coral reefs, or worse, shooting up to the surface too quickly. Weights are also used in conjunction with the BCD to help control your buoyancy once underwater.
Next, the masks and fins make it possible to enjoy the underwater scape as comfortably as possible. You want to have a mask that fits perfectly on your face so no water seeps in. You also don’t want it to be too tight so it’s not constricting any sinus cavities. Don’t forget your wetsuit too!
The fins are your motor underwater. Once you get a good rhythm and technique down, you’ll effortlessly move like a fish. Keep those hands tucked in! No need to flail your arms around as your hands do nothing compared to the work of your fins.
There are several skills that you must demonstrate before heading to the open sea and getting your SCUBA diving certification. These will either be done in a pool or shallow water to get you more comfortable before going deep. This isn’t timed so you can do it at your leisure. You’ll also have to tread water for 10 minutes using any method easiest for you. Just because you can breathe underwater doesn’t mean you don’t need to know the basics of swimming!
Now that those skills are out of the way, you’ll assemble your equipment and jump back into the water to start with the more fun stuff! With your mouthpiece on, you’ll dunk your head at the surface to get the feel for breathing through the regulator. It’s a little weird at first, but it becomes second nature pretty quickly.
After you get comfortable with your new breathing medium, you’ll sink to the bottom and finish the rest of the skills. Your instructor will check if you know your hand signals and can communicate clearly. Next, you’ll have to learn how to purge your mask if water gets in, then take it completely off only to put it back on and clear it with it full of water.
You will also learn how to “lose” your regulator and retrieve it. Finally, you’ll have to remove your weights and BCD and then put them back on properly. All of these skills are crucial to have in the unlikely event that something unexpected happens underwater.
Show Off Your SCUBA Skills
Don’t think you’re out of the woods yet! Showing off these skills doesn’t finally grant you the coveted SCUBA diving certification. Now that you proved yourself in shallow water, it’s time to show them off at depth! Once you’re at the dive site and out of the boat, you will have to find your buddy at the surface and perform a “buddy check” to assure all is well with each other’s equipment before descending to depth. With your first SCUBA diving certification, you’re allowed to go down to 18 meters (or about 60 feet).
Once you descend to a comfortable spot for both your dive instructor and yourself, you’ll perform all of the skills again to show what you’ve learned. Doing these skills around this depth shows you have the ability to keep your head under pressure in case anything were to happen.
Back In The Boat
Congratulations! With all these skills in your arsenal, you are now SCUBA dive certified! Now you can decide whether you want to go on and take the Advanced Open Water Diver program, or just enjoy your Open Water diving certification and dive as a professional.