Learning how to scuba dive
is your ticket to the ultimate underwater adventure. The scuba
certification that you earn is internationally recognized, never
expires, and allows you to rent or purchase your own diving
equipment. You’ll soon discover, however, that there is no shortage
of dive companies out there competing for your hard earned dollars.
It can be a daunting task trying to find one that has a proven track
record of honesty, integrity, and reliability, while at the same
time providing a positive certification experience for both you and
your family. To help you comparison shop, I’ve compiled a list of
questions any potential certification student needs to ask before
getting certified. (There are a number of different scuba training
organizations that a dive company can be affiliated with. This
article deals primarily with certification courses sanctioned by
PADI: Professional Association of Diving Instructors, the largest
scuba training organization in the world).
1.How Long Does The Certification Course
Scuba certification is performance based, meaning there
is no set amount of hours required for completion. You move from one
level to the next during the course at your own pace. You will find
that most PADI certification courses advertised are based around an
estimated 3 day time frame for completion. For the average person,
however, this may not be enough time. 4 days for certification is a
much more realistic goal.
2.How Much Does The Certification Course
Lowball prices are designed for 2 reasons.... to attract
your attention, and to get you in the door. The hidden charges for
the course, such as books and equipment rental, are conveniently
never advertised. Look for an all inclusive certification course
experience. Remember, in the end, you always get what you pay for.
3. Are References Available From The Most
Always ask for phone or E-mail references from the most
recent certification students who have just completed the course.
Don’t settle for written quotes that are years old and taken from
some database of generic customer comments. If a lame excuse or
noncommittal answer is given, take your business elsewhere. A
quality dive operation that has nothing to hide will be happy to
provide such references.
4. Who Is The Instructor?
5. How Long Have They Been An Instructor?
6. How Many People Have They Certified?
7. How Many Certification Courses Have They Taught?
Good instructors, who have an extensive resume of
experience teaching scuba certification courses, are extremely hard
to find. Dive shops have a notoriously high turnover ratio of scuba
instructors to staff. Many of the ones who are there are recent
hires, and have very little real world experience. They also work
long hours for very little money, generally getting paid by the
activity, not by the hour. Insist on someone who has certified at
least 25 people, and has been teaching a minimum of one year.
8. Is The Instructor First Aid/CPR
While PADI doesn’t require its scuba instructors to hold
these important certifications, any instructor who’s serious about
teaching a certification course needs to go the extra mile and make
this a requirement, not an option.
9. Will The Course Be Taught Using Rotating
This is a common practice some dive operations use where
one instructor “Team Teaches” the course with another, exposing you
to differing personalities and teaching methods that will only
confuse you. Unless you are doing a referral certification, where
you are starting and finishing your course in different locations,
10. Will Both Instructor And Student Use
Similar Equipment Setups During The Course?
When both instructor and student are using the same brand
of scuba gear, and have similarly designed equipment configurations,
it allows students to learn faster and easier, both in and out of
the water, during the certification course.
11. Will The Course Incorporate A Giant RDP
Table Into The Academic Sessions?
Learning how to use the dive tables is perhaps the
toughest academic challenge a student faces during the certification
course. A quality dive operation will have available a giant version
of the standard dive table, allowing students to more easily master
this important academic information. This issue has been
addressed by PADI recently. Now the ERDPml dive planner
calculator is used in most classes.
12. Can I Get A Student Discount After
Any reputable dive operation should give you a generous
student discount towards future diving activities and/or equipment
purchases you make from them, in appreciation for taking their
Jay Umbenhauer has been a PADI instructor in Hawaii for more than 12
years, and has certified 100’s of individuals who now travel this
Earth in search of the ultimate dive. His dive company, Scuba Gods,
based on Maui, features first class service, professional scuba
instruction, and all-inclusive pricing. Learn more at