Getting scuba certified is a big dream for many people. The good news is, that most people can qualify to get scuba certified. This opens up the ability for you to explore underwater and do more on your beach vacations than you otherwise could. The cost to get scuba certified is going to vary based on the agency you are certified through, the shop you take the course at and which certification you are going for.
How much does a scuba diving certification cost?
As a general rule of thumb, your scuba diving certification cost is going to be around $350-400.
Cost of Scuba Certification by Agency
There are many agencies that teach divers the skills they need to safely scuba dive. The most common agencies you will see in the United States for recreational scuba are:
- PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors)
- SSI (Scuba Schools International)
- SDI (Scuba Diving International)
- NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors)
In most cases, a local dive shop is going to primarily teach courses and certifications from one or two of these agencies, based on the instructor certifications that their staff hold.
PADI Open Water Diver
The basic cost of an Open Water Diver course through PADI is going to be between $300-400, depending on the dive shop that you take the course at. Each dive shop is going to charge slightly different prices, based largely on their costs to operate the confined water and open water dives required by PADI.
SSI Open Water Diver
The benefit to taking courses through SSI is that all of their online learning is totally free. With PADI you will have to purchase course books, sometimes these come with eLearning videos, in order to have the materials you need to take the course. The cost of taking an SSI open water certification course is going to largely vary based on the dive shop you take the course with. We recommend reaching out to dive centers near you to find out what the cost is going to be for you to take the SSI Open Water Diver certification course.
SDI Open Water Scuba Diver
SDI is going to be less common than seeing PADI courses offered, so you will have to search around at dive shops near you in order to find what they charge for an open water certification. SDI’s website sells all of the course materials for eLearning on their website for $129.95. Keep in mind that doing the confined water and open water dives required for the certification will raise this cost. You will most likely end up in the $400 range when it is all said and done.
NAUI Scuba Diver
The basic level of certification for NAUI is the Scuba Diver certification. This is going to be close in terms of competency to an open water diver certificate from any of the other agencies listed. The cost is going to vary based on the location you take the course, but expect to spend about $400 to take this certification course.
Cost of Different Scuba Certifications
Most agencies are going to offer different levels of certifications in the beginner realm. Since PADI seems to be the most common dive agency in the US, we will use them as an example of this.
PADI offers 3 different courses for a beginner diver, meaning none of these have previous dive experience prerequisites in order to take them.
The first of these is going to be a Discover Scuba course. This course is less of a certification and more of an opportunity for someone to figure out whether scuba diving would be an activity they would enjoy, without shelling out several hundred dollars for a certification. Most of the time you are going to be able to find this “course” for under $100.
The next step up is going to be the Scuba Diver course. This course acts as an intermediate step between no certification and the Open Water Diver certificate. This course will allow someone certified to make dives to depths of 40 feet while directly supervised by a PADI professional. The cost of the Scuba Diver course is going to be less than the Open Water Diver course, but will vary based on the dive shop that you take it at. The good news is that the learning and practice you do in the Scuba Diver course will transfer directly into the Open Water Diver course.
The final step when it comes to a beginner certification is the Open Water Diver course. You by no means have to take the previous two courses to qualify for taking this course, but if you had some of the things you had to do for the previous will transfer directly into credit for this course. As we stated in the first section of this article, you should expect that your cost to take PADI’s Open Water Diver course will be around $350-400, depending on the dive shop you take the course with.
Minimum Requirements for a Scuba Certification
Each agency is going to have different minimum requirements to receive a scuba certification. Like above, we will use PADI as an example for minimum requirements. We are also going to skip over the Discover Scuba requirements as well as the Scuba Diver requirements.
The minimum requirements to take the Open Water Diver certification course through PADI are:
- Minimum of 10 years old (junior course for younger ages)
- Adequate swimming skills
- Good physical health
As long as you meet these three requirements, you will be able to sign up for and take the Open Water Diver course.
Is Scuba Diving Expensive?
Scuba Diving can be an expensive hobby to pick up, but it totally depends on how far into scuba diving you would like to go. If you are mainly interested in just picking up an open water certification so that you can rent gear and dive on vacations, you can keep your cost right around what you paid for the class. This will be a little bit higher as it is suggested that each diver purchase their own dive mask, fins, wetsuit and other accessories.
I’ve also written this article where 500+ scuba divers were surveyed to outline averages on exactly how expensive scuba diving is.
If you end up loving to dive and want to take your diving to the next level, you are going to end up spending more money. Each certification is going to come with it’s own cost, and the more gear you acquire, the more money you are going to spend.
With everything in life, there is variable cost when looking at purchasing the gear required to own a full set of scuba gear. For example, you can find dive computers that will do the job for around $200, but you could also spend upwards of $1500 on a top of the line diver computer.
The same goes with every piece of scuba diving equipment, from BCDs to regulators, to octos and even once you get into rebreather diving. It is advised that you start slow, build up confidence in your diving ability and add to your skillset and gear set as you see fit.
Say you’ve made a handful of dives to the limits of your Open Water certification and want to take it to the next level, go ahead and look into getting certified as an Advanced Open Water diver. Maybe you’ve always had an interest in underwater photography, there is a certification for that. What if you don’t always want to dive in the ocean but would like to dive at altitude, there’s a course that will teach you how to do that safely.
The price of scuba diving almost entirely depends on how far you want to go with it, and how frugal you are in your purchases!