Learning To Dive - The Scuba Diver Course

© 2003 Geoff Allen

The day the Course arrives.

What you will need. Your swimming costume (bathers), towel, pen, and training materials (if you have them), and don't forget your completed Recreational SCUBA Dive Medical Form and your passport sized photos.

What happens once you get inside and start the course?

Introductions. You will get general introductions from each of the students on the course with you, things like name, what you do and what attracted you to Scuba Diving. The Instructor should let you know how long they have been diving recreationally, teaching diving and what experiences and other qualifications they have. They should also explain what it is you need to do to become a Certified SCUBA Diver (Pass the dive medical, a diving theory test, complete all in-water skill requirements and be assessed as being competent with your SCUBA equipment and the in-water skills).

Administration Check.

The Instructor will check to see if everybody in the classroom has paid the required amount and give you all the theory materials (student dive manual, dive planner, divers logbook, etc…) that you need for the course, if you don't already have them.


You will then start filling out the paperwork: Student Record File, Safe Diving Practices Statement of Understanding, Liability Release and Express Assumption of Risk and Medical Questionnaire. Usually taking about 30 Minutes to read and complete. At the end of the paperwork the Instructor will ask for your dive medical form and passport photo's these will be placed in your Student Record File.

Course Layout.

You should be advised as to what the course syllabus is and what it contains, this differs between Training Agencies, Dive Stores, Instructors and the course you've chosen. Usually it is a 4 full day course which can be done full-time (Monday-Thursday) or part-time (2 Weekends) or casually (Days to suit you and them).

The Basics of an Entry Level Dive Course.

Dive Theory. The dive theory topics that you cover are:

  • Introduction to diving
  • Diving equipment
  • How pressures effect your body
  • Safe diving practices
  • Underwater navigation
  • Dive planning
  • Problem management
  • How to use a dive planning table or Dive Computer
  • The underwater environment
  • What a SCUBA System is
  • How your body reacts to SCUBA
  • Underwater communications
  • The buddy system
  • How to use a dive planning table
  • Where to go at the end of the course

Confined Water Skills.

Confined water is either a swimming pool or a place in open water that is sheltered, shallow and safe. Here you will take your first breath underwater, become familiar with the equipment and learn basic skills such as equalising the pressure in your ears, and clearing water from your mask and mouthpiece. You will be briefed by your Instructor about each exercise in detail before being asked to do it, then you will see a demonstration of the exercise, and then you will be given the chance to do it yourself. Exercises differ a small amount between Training Agencies to Training Agencies.

Open Water Skills.

Soon enough you will be diving in the ocean or in some cases a lake. Here you will repeat the exercises you learnt in sheltered water and start to practice the skills that will keep you safe when you are diving later, without an instructor or dive master - such as buddy skills and navigation. Again, you will be briefed by your Instructor in detail before being asked to do anything new. Exercises differ a small amount between Training Agencies.

Theory Exam.

This is usually a 50-100 Question Exam with multiple choice answers. Passing the exam should be no problem if you have followed the lectures carefully - it is a very practical subject and a lot of common sense is involved, even in the theory.

At the End of your Course.

Providing that you have passed your medical, the theory exam, and your in water assessments, you will get a Temporary Certification Card. You should receive your Plastic Certification Card, with your photo on it, in the post within a couple of weeks.

Other areas of this series: Main Page, Medical Considerations, Become A Scuba Diver, the day the course arrives, I passed - where do I go from here?

The information contained in this article has been gathered from various places, various sources and the experience and training of the originator. Once again, it is not to be taken as the only way things are or should be done, there are others.