Do I need a scuba certification?
Actually, not. You always can try scuba diving without need a certification; however if you remember the 7 reasons to try scuba diving we wrote about on a previous post, you will need to prove your ability and get a c-card (or diving certification) to really enjoy go for a dive. Also, to take part in some trips and scuba activities the diving centers will ask you about your experience and for some specific certifications.
We must remember that the word scuba is an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus and refers to the equipment which allows properly trained scuba divers to safely explore the underwater environment. So, to properly advance in our intention of dive as much as we can we’ll need to be trained and learn how this equipment works and the procedures and techniques for its safe use. This educational process will lead us to obtain a scuba certification.
Types of scuba diving
Before go ahead with the certifications we need to know that there are six different divisions in diving:
Recreational diving main purpose is have fun, but also meant that there are some limits, training and equipment requirements. We dive within time and depth limits that allow us to swim directly to the surface if it’s needed.
Technical diving is a sport activity where we go further than the limits of recreational diving using special scuba gear. Another difference with recreational diving is that while doing tech diving we can’t swim directly to the surface due to depth, decompression requirements or a physical ceiling.
Commercial diving is how we refer to a job that happens to be underwater and can be defined as diving to perform manual labor underwater. It requires distinct training that differs significantly from recreational and technical diving.
Public safety diving is in response of crimes, accidents or other community needs. It includes searching for and recovering evidence and victims, as well as underwater investigation. For legal and safety reasons, it requires special training.
Scientific diving is when the main objective of diving is to gather information or to provide education about underwater-related science.
Military diving is when the objectives of the dive are related to the military.
From all these divisions, we’ll concentrate in recreational diving.
Where I can get my scuba certification?
Well, the first step is visit a diving center and collects some information about the minimum requirements. Every certification agency has some limits, basically related to age and a basic swimming ability. Also, they’ll inform you about some legal issues that can be in place in your country and about the scuba training agency that they are affiliate.
Diver certification agencies are organizations which issue certification of competence in diving skills under their own name, and which train, assesses, certify and register the instructors licensed to present courses following the standards for the certification they issue.
Remember, don’t be shy and always ask about your instructor certifications.
If we include the national diving federations, the list of agencies is quite long, but only a few are the most popular internationally, such as PADI, SSI or NAUI. Although the basic skills each agency teaches remain the same, scuba certification agencies may differ in their philosophies. Some agencies focus on creating safe recreational-style divers (such as PADI), while other agencies train beginning divers to use technical-style procedures and equipment (such as UTD). Some agencies are commercial and some are non-profit (such as NAUI).
To control all those agencies a couple of organizations establish the recreational scuba diving training agency standards:
WRSTC (World Recreational Scuba Training Council)
The World Recreational Scuba Training Council is an organization of scuba certification agencies that establishes international minimum training standards for recreational scuba diving agencies. The WRSTC is composed of smaller RSTCs (Recreational Scuba Training Councils), each of which deals with one region of the world.
ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
The International Organization for Standardization sets standards for products and services around the world, including scuba diving. The ISO website currently sells PDF files of standards such as minimum requirements for the training of recreational scuba instructors, recreational divers, and nitrox divers. Like the WRSTC, ISO standards focus on recreational diving only.
Sometimes, you can’t choose the agency you want to follow because it’s quite usual that in one area all the diving centers operate under the same one. However, while selecting a training agency is important, choosing a good instructor is equally so. The course you receive will only be as good as the instructor.
To finish this article, we encourage you to take a non-certified diving activity (such as a PADI Discover Scuba Diving) before you enroll in your first diving course. Sometimes, when we try something we realize that it doesn’t like to us or we don’t enjoy it.
In further post we’ll write more about courses and a few of the diving certification agencies.