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Taking The Plunge

Learning to dive is a fantastic and rewarding experience. Classes are fun and easy and can become a new family experience. For most certification agencies, you must be 15 years of age for certification. However children 12 -14 may earn a Jr. Certification. Jr. divers must complete the same class and meet the same physical and aptitude reqirements, but they must dive with a certified adult.

There are introductory classes to give you just a taste of what diving is all about, or you may choose a full certification courses that can be completed while you are on vacation. And if you have already started your course and just need the open water dives, you have a great excuse for a great trip to complete your class in a tropical location?

Resort Course or Introduction to Scuba

This course is designed to give you a diving experience and the opportunity to "try it before you buy it". The class includes a short lecture to give you some basic knowledge, a pool session to acclimate yourself to the equipment and breathing underwater, and finally a open water ocean dive on a shallow reef in calm conditions, under the supervision of a qualified dive instructor. This class does not lead to certification.

Certification Course

If you are ready to take the plunge, the Basic or Open Water course can be completed at your local dive center or while on vacation. If you take a local class, you have the flexibility to sign up for weekend or evening classes that fit your schedule. You can also complete a class while on vacation and become certified in as little as 3 - 5 days.

While courses may vary a little among different certification agencies, most of the content is similar. You will be required to sign a medical statement to assure that you are able to dive. If there is any question, you will need to get clearance from your doctor (standard forms are available from your instructor). Generally you will be required to have the ability to swim 200 yards and tread water for 10 minutes. You will undergo academic training in the classroom which may include bookwork, lectures, videos and slides, pool sessions to practice and reinforce what you have learned, and a series of open water dives to fine tune your new skills in the diving environment.

Referral Program

Many people begin their scuba training with their local dive center where they complete the classroom and pool portions of the course. Then while on vacation, you can complete the open water dives portion of your course and receive your certification. This is an excellent and popular way to become certified, and is called the Referral Program.

Your local instructor or dive center will provide the necessary paperwork to show that the initial portion was completed satifactorily and the instructor at the open water location will conduct your dives and issue your certification. Enjoy the warm clear waters of a tropical location as you complete your dive training. The open water dives can be completed in two days, then your off on your own for more diving.

Remember to check ahead to make sure the referrel program for your agency is available. Your local dive center should be able to help with this.

Certification Agencies

So which is best certification agency to certify with? All major agencies are members of the Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC) and adhere to the same general rules and course contents. Classes vary in length, and reqiurements to continue your diving education may differ, but what you learn to become a diver will generally be the same. The best advice is to check with local dive centers and find out who they are affiliated with. Remember, you will probably be using them for advanced and specialty training later on. As for travel destinations, most accept all major certification cards. Visit our list of major agencies to help you get more information.

Your diver certification card is your ticket to fun and adventure. But don't stop with an entry course. There is a whole new world awaiting down there. Continue your education to become more comfortable and experienced, learn underwater photography, fish identification, explore wrecks, and much, much more.
For More Information Contact Your Local Dive Center



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