Do I need a license to go scuba diving?
No, you do not need a license just to go scuba diving, for example if you want to try with a diving school or simply when scuba diving on holiday as a taster session.
There’s technically no law to stop you from going out by yourself and scuba diving without certification or a license. Then again though, there’s also no law to stop you putting a bag of forks in the microwave, but neither is a particularly good idea.
Particularly if you’re looking to go on a more complex dive or even just to understand how to properly use diving equipment, you’re going to need a license so that other schools or divers know that you are competent and can be operate in the water properly.
It’s fair to say that as far as pastimes go, scuba diving certainly can’t be described as ‘cheap’. If you’ve started looking into scuba diving for the first time, you’ve probably seen some of the costs involved and wondered ‘can I get by without some of these things?’. Completing training courses and gaining certification before even diving may seem a little too involved for an activity that you don’t know if you’ll even enjoy yet.
For those who haven’t experienced any diving yet, however, you’ll be pleased to hear that a large number of centres allow novices to enjoy a ‘taster’ session first. These introductory sessions are perfect for both keen novices, and anyone just hoping to sample a one-off experience whilst on holiday. For the latter folk though, it’s always advised to get in contact with the centre beforehand to see if they have any stipulations about taking complete beginners underwater. They should also be able to answer any questions about medical conditions you might have that may pose a problem.
So for anyone hoping to dip their toes into the world of scuba diving, not having certification or a license need not be too much of a problem. If however, you’ve already been on a couple of dives, and are wondering if you can go out on your own now, the answer is a surprising ‘yes’ (well, legally anyway).
Why you should get the required diving certifications and licenses
Don’t go it alone
For starters, one of the first things that the training courses teach is working to a ‘buddy system’. It’s incredibly dangerous to go it alone: any number of things can go wrong whilst you’re submerged, and without a certified diver around to help, any mistake can easily be fatal.
Difficulty renting equipment
You’ll probably also find it difficult to find a boat captain to take you, or even a dive shop that will rent diving equipment to you without proper certification. The certification provides peace of mind for dive shops and boat services that a diver knows what they are doing and has been trained appropriately. While dive shops will have your safety in mind first and foremost, it should be a bit disconcerting to anyone hoping to dive without certification, that they are deemed less likely to return with the equipment they’ve rented!
Not being able to communicate or use equipment effectively
Speaking of equipment, there’s a lot of complex equipment that you’ll need to be comfortable with before you enter the water. Skipping certification means that you’re missing out on information that may well save your life.
Beyond the equipment, certification also teaches you how to communicate effectively with your partner whilst submerged. This is absolutely crucial, as the training courses provide you with the information you need to spot the danger signs of when your partner may be in trouble.
There’s a plethora of different things to remember when scuba diving, some relating to your equipment, some to the ocean, and some to how your body reacts when presented with varying degrees of pressure underwater. Going on a dive without certification, or at the very least, without a partner who is certified is a recipe for disaster.
There’s a number of different organisations that can train you up and provide certification in many different areas across the world. NAUI, SSI and PADI are just a few of them. Check out which certification makes the most sense to you, and get yourself enrolled. Forty metres under the ocean is not the best place to start ‘winging it’!