So, how do you obtain the scuba diving certification?
The only way to receive this certification is by jumping onto an "Open Water Scuba Diver" course with a scuba diving school which is aligned to a recognized scuba training agency- such as SSI (Scuba Schools International).
Such scuba certification agencies, regulate and represent diving professionals and operators, whilst also promoting the sport and the marine environment.
Upon successfully completing diver training, you will be certified as an Open Water Scuba Diver.
You will then receive a scuba diving certification (or license) which will allow you to scuba dive (under similar conditions in which you were trained) with dive operators, other certified divers and rent scuba equipment.
Scuba diving agencies vary greatly in their philosophy and approach to teaching, and some are (to put it simply) just in it for the money. SSI believes in a symbiotic relationship between the agency, dive shops, operators and divers.
The SSI philosophy to learning is "Comfort through repetition" which is a core element of their teaching methods.
Scuba lessons - Theory
In the theory section, you will be learning scuba diving safety techniques and basic scuba concepts. You will likely watch videos introducing you to scuba and will be briefed on scuba safety practices. Within the online theory lessons you will also get to learn the different scuba hand signals for use underwater communication.
Most agencies have now provided the option to learn the theory online in the comfort of your own home. You can also complete the knowledge questions and results will be available for the dive store, when you come in for your first day of training. This cuts down on classroom time and allows more time to be spent actually practicing the skills in the water.
Most important of all, you will be introduced to the different diving equipment that you are soon, going to use.
On your first day, you will need to go through some important paperwork. This is necessary to make you aware and accept that scuba diving has some inherent risks associated, as do most sports. It is also an opportunity to initially meet your fellow future dive buddies and instructors. You will also complete the student record forms which allows the Dive centre to keep a record of your progress and any future courses, you complete in one secure location.
Scuba lessons - Confined Water training (Pool Training)
The next part of your scuba lessons is the confined water training. This is where you will get wet for the first time and start practicing the skills required to become a scuba diver. Don't feel intimidated by any of the skills here as the pool is the place get it right before jumping into the ocean. These sessions will train you on how to use your equipment and practice your buoyancy and surfacing skills. There are many skills to practice and learn, and these are generally learnt over a number of training dives. As mentioned, the SSI (Scuba Schools International) philosophy is "comfort through repetition", and where the majority of schools will simply run through each skill once, we will continually repeat the skills throughout your confined water sessions, adding new skills as you become comfortable with the ones you've already learnt. By the end of the confined water component you will have practiced each skill a number of times.
At the end of the theory and confined sessions, you will be required to pass a final exam to progress to the open water portion of the program.
Scuba diving lessons - Open Water training
The final portion is the open water training (or the BIG pool as we like to call it!). Here you will get to practice the skills learned from the previous confined water training sessions. You will practice the scuba diving skills with your instructor until you are completely confident and can perform them with ease in a real diving situation, however rather than learning new skills, you will demonstrate your ability to perform the skills already learnt. Your instructor will ensure that you are comfortable in the water performing these skills and may spend additional time if there are any concerns or skills you are having problems executing.
This is also the first time you will wear a wetsuit, as our pool is around 28 degrees and a full wetsuit is not required. This also allows you to become comfortable with the equipment rather than having to manage a wetsuit and the additional bouyancy challenges associated with it.
During these scuba dives, you will be given an orientation to some of the local conditions and environment you will be diving in once you have completed the course. The good thing about it is that you will also get to check out the underwater scenery. Be ready to become addicted to diving. These skill evaluation tests are spread over approximately four different dives. Once your instructor is satisfied with your progress and have passed all the necessary tests, you will be certified as an official scuba diver.
Once you have learnt the basics, the fun really starts. You will be able to dive without the supervision of an instructor with other certified scuba divers, always staying within the limits of your training and abilities. Your Open Water Scuba certification is an entry point into the world of diving, and you may find that you have specific interests such as photography, wreck diving, deep diving, etc. You may decide that you want to become an instructor yourself, and SSI have training courses to suit any pathway.
We always recommend adding to your basic knowledge by signing up to additional courses which not only opens up the doorway to more advanced diving but increases your knowledge and makes you a safer and more confident diver.
Remember that the skills you learnt in the training sessions are the foundations of your skill set and should be practiced long after you become certified. Again, remember that "comfort through repetition" extends beyond the pool.