Do You Need to be Certified to Scuba Dive?

If you are a fan of the ocean or are mystified by marine life, you have probably considered scuba diving. Scuba diving is an incredible way to explore and enjoy marine life and is a hobby for many marine biology enthusiasts. If you have done any research on scuba diving, you have probably come across sites talking about certification, but do you need to be certified to scuba dive?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. Scuba diving, while it is generally a very safe hobby, it can also become deadly if you don’t know what you’re doing. In this article, we’ll cover getting certified, how to do it, and costs.

Do you need to be certified to scuba dive?

Technically, no. There are no laws that prevent you from diving if you are not certified. However, many dive centers will not let you dive with them unless you have the proper certification.

Scuba diving can be dangerous, and in order to get certified you have to take courses which help to keep you safe and informed. Diving uncertified is strongly advised against.

Do you need a license to scuba dive?

No, there are no licenses required to scuba dive. Instead, scuba divers go through training and courses to become certified.

There are two main certification agencies for scuba diving which are PADI and NAUI. Both agencies provide courses and training to teach new divers the theory, dangers, and techniques of scuba diving.

Certifications from both PADI and NAUI are recognized world-wide, meaning you can dive with dive shops and clubs all over the world.

Is it illegal to scuba dive without certification?

No, there are no laws that prevent people that are not certified from diving. But it can be dangerous to dive without being certified.

The courses you take while getting your dive certification teach you the ins and outs of diving. Not only that, but they also teach you how to deal with situations while diving that could potentially turn dangerous.

When engaging in a potentially dangerous activity, knowing more and having proper training is definitely a better idea than just winging it!

Is it worth it to get scuba certified?

Absolutely! Getting certified is a great idea for anybody that is wanting to spend some time underwater, admiring the marine life.

Not only that, but certifications are good for life. However, if it’s been a while (a couple years) between dives, many dive shops offer “refresher” courses that help to refresh your memory and tune your skills before diving back in.

That being said, diver’s certification courses can be expensive. But, if you foresee yourself on a tropical vacation at any time in the near future, it is worth having a look to see if you can get certified at a dive shop in your vacation destination.

In many parts of the world, getting certified can be much cheaper than in the US and some of your training dives during the course will be at actual dive sites. This allows you to learn and finish your training, while also enjoying the scenery at dive hotspots.

How deep can you dive without a certification?

If you have the equipment and the knowledge to dive, then there is no stopping you from diving as deep as you want.

Keep in mind though, deep water diving is different than the standard “open water” dive and has its own safety precautions and dangers to be aware of.

The first certification level of most certification agencies is called “open water” certification and certifies divers to reach depths of 60ft/18m.

How do I get my scuba diving license?

To scuba dive, you do not need a license but instead a certification. The first step would be to find a local dive shop. Contrary to what you may assume, there are dive shops all over the place, not just places near the ocean.

Once you find a dive shop that offers a certification course, you will need to take the theory part of the course before getting your feet wet (literally!). These courses can be taught in person, but some courses are online. This first part of the course requires you to read and study the material before taking several chapter quizzes and a final exam.

After passing the exam, you get to move onto confined water diving where you will learn the fundamental basics of diving. This portion takes place in a pool where instructors will help you assemble and use your gear and teach you a few exercises to help you when you’re out in the ocean!

And finally, you get to move onto the open water part of the training where you will actually put the skills you have learned to the test in the ocean (or lake) under the supervision of your instructors.

While it sounds like a lengthy process, most courses only require a few days.

How much does it cost to get scuba certified?

How much you pay for certification depends on where you are in the world. In the United States, getting certified can cost anywhere between $300-$600. Most scuba certification courses are held by trained instructors at dive shops, so the price really depends on the particular dive shop.

For example, in Thailand, you can get certified in one of the top diving destinations in the world, Koh Tao for anywhere between $250-$350. Not only do you get your certification, but you get to do you training dives in one of the top destinations for diving! Some certification packages will even throw in a “fun dive” for after you complete your certification.

In other diving destinations like Mexico, you can get certified for as little as $150 with some dive shops. These packages may also include “fun dives”.

Scuba diving gear for beginners

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Scuba diving requires a lot of equipment, which can certainly add up to cost big bucks. Most people don’t actually own all of the equipment needed for diving. In fact, even when you get started and start a certification course you don’t need any gear but yourself!

That’s because dive shops have plenty of gear to rent if you want to get out on your own, and in the case that you book a dive trip with a shop, the use of rental gear is included in the trip. This is the case with getting certified as well.

That being said, there are a few key pieces of gear that are definitely worth buying for yourself including:

1. A good mask

A good mask that fits to your face is key when diving. You don’t want a mask that is too tight or too loose because they are not only uncomfortable, but without a proper fitting seal between your face and the mask- your mask will flood which is never fun.

2. A snorkel

A good snorkel is also a good investment. You certainly want one that will feel comfortable in your mouth and one that also doesn’t leak. Having a mask and snorkel also means you can get out and snorkel to see some marine life without needing to scuba.

3. A pair of fins

Finding a pair of fins that is like finding a pair of shoes- the better they fit you, the more comfortable they are on your feet.


In conclusion, you do not technically need to be certified to go scuba diving. But this is highly advised against! Getting certified is incredibly important as you learn how to stay safe while scuba diving, and most reasonable people want to know how to do something before they actually do it!

While it can be costly, getting your scuba certification is certainly worth it. There is no better way to enjoy marine life than getting underwater and seeing them up close and personal. It’s no wonder that nearly one million people worldwide get certified every year!

Written by OutdoorMotives

At we talk about all types of outdoor activities. We answer common questions and recommend the best products to help you enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.


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