What are the requirements for learning to scuba dive?

If you have a passion for excitement and adventure, chances are you can become an avid PADI scuba diver. You'll also want to keep in mind these requirements:

The minimum age is 10 years old (in most areas). Student divers who are younger than 15 earn the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification, which they may upgrade to PADI Open Water Diver certification upon reaching 15. Children under the age of 13 require parent or guardian permission to register for PADI eLearning, or to use PADI Open Water Diver Touch™.

All student divers complete a brief scuba medical questionnaire that asks about medical conditions that could be a problem while diving. If none of these apply, sign the form and you’re ready to start. If any of these apply to you, your doctor must, as a safety precaution, assess the condition as it relates to diving and sign a medical form that confirms you’re fit to dive. In some areas, local laws require all scuba students to consult with a physician before entering the course.

Download the scuba medical questionnaire below and bring it to your PADI Instructor before your first water session.

Before completing the PADI Open Water Diver course, your instructor will have you demonstrate basic water skills to be sure you’re comfortable in the water, including:

  • Swim 200 metres/yards (or 300 metres/yards in mask, fins and snorkel) without stopping. There is no time limit for this, and you may use any swimming strokes you want.
  • Float and tread water for 10 minutes, again using any methods you want.

Any individual who can meet the performance requirements of the course qualifies for certification. There are many adaptive techniques that allow individuals with physical challenges to meet these requirements. People with paraplegia, amputations and other challenges commonly earn the PADI Open Water Diver certification. Even individuals with more significant physical challenges participate in diving. Talk to your PADI Instructor at your local PADI Dive Center or Resort for more information.

Each diver must have a personal set of the learning materials to use during the course and for reference after the course. There are several options available, depending on your learning style and technology preference, including:

PADI Open Water Diver Online (web-based)

PADI Open Water Diver Touch™ (combines manual and video in tablet-based learning)

PADI Open Water Diver Manual, and watching the Open Water Diver Video on DVD either on your own or with your instructor

Black Belt Divers can provide one of the options above as part of the course enrollment process. You’ll also need a logbook and a dive-planning device such as a dive computer, RDP table or eRDPMLTM. Your instructor will have you use the PADI Skill Practice and Dive Planning Slate during training, and you’ll find this tool useful once you’re certified.

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