How long does it take to get scuba certified?

Are you considering becoming a scuba diver? Are you unsure of the process or how long it will take get scuba certified? This post will explain the process of getting scuba certified as I share my journey with you. Scuba diving is an enjoyable and exciting adventure with exotic dive locations around the world. You do need to have a “license” or be certified to scuba dive, after all you will be under the water breathing, at depth. It’s helpful to know how to do so safely!  How long does it take to get scuba certified? Surprisingly not long at all. Open water certification is performance based, comprising of both theory and practical components. Begin your underwater exploration as a certified diver in as little as 3 or 4 days. Finning good fun!!

Cartoon dive certification card
How long does it take to get scuba certified?

What scuba certification do I need?

Your first certification is Open Water which allows you to dive to a depth of 18 metres, to dive with a buddy unsupervised, rent gear, and get air refills if you have your own tank.

How old do you have to be to dive?

If you are medically fit to dive (if in doubt talk to your doctor}, fit to swim, and over 10 you can learn to dive. I learnt at 55 and have since made a conscious effort to get stronger and healthier for diving.  I don’t find the diving strenuous unless there is strong current, but I am older, short, slightly built, lack strength and I find the dive equipment heavy and awkward. Diving is a buddy sport so there is always help available; accept it with grace and enjoy your dive.

How long does it take to get scuba certified?

It can be as little as 3 – 4 days. I started with the theory, through PADI e-learning.  It took me about 12 hours to complete, I am certain I was slower than most – it’s been a long time since I have been required to study. The process was simple, I am not tech savvy but found the PADI e-learning app easy to navigate and understand. The course was well delivered, the concepts easy to grasp, and I was able to revise as much as I needed. How long does it take to get scuba certified? A lot does depend on you and how quickly you understand the theory.

Lady writing
Studying for open water certification

Confined water practical scuba training

Now it is time to get wet and practical, learning scuba skills.  The confined water component is completed in a pool or pool like conditions such as a sheltered beach. I was lucky to train with PADI Keppel Dives Training at Keppel was wonderful, as we did our confined water in the shallows around Great Keppel Island.  It was tough, going to beautiful island with pristine beaches, and training in the ocean!! Over two days we learnt to set up our gear and care for it, breathe underwater, clear our masks, buoyancy, safety procedures and the skills to be competent divers. Our instructor was by our side until we learnt each skill and were comfortable with it.  I am not a natural in the water but PADI got me there. How long does it take to get scuba certified? I would allow two days for the confined water portion.


Time to become a certified open water diver

Next, we completed 4 open water dives over two days.  It says a lot for my PADI instructor if awkward Annie (me) can complete a backward roll from a boat. I couldn’t manage a somersault as a kid, so it was a big achievement for 55-year-old me. During the dives we also had to demonstrate some of the skills we learnt in the confined water portion.  As a bonus on our second dive, we saw tens of rays in a big circle in the sand.  Our instructor had never seen anything like it before. A fantastic introduction to scuba diving!! How long does it take to get scuba certified? I would allow 2 days to complete the four open water dives you need to become a certified diver.

WANT TO BECOME A CERTIFIED DIVER? IT’S EASY & ONLY TAKES A FEW DAYS Click the links below to see some options

Southern Great Barrier Reef

I chose to do my course locally, as I am fortunate to have Great Keppel Island on my doorstep. I have been able to support my local dive community and be supported by them.  I have met some great buddies and formed real friendships both in and out of the water. I am learning about our local ecosystem which just happens to be the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

How long does it take to get scuba certified with PADI?

The way PADI structures their courses gives you the freedom to adapt to your time frame.  You may choose to do the theory at home and then complete your course whilst on holidays. Do your confined water one weekend and then a little further down the track complete your open water dives, or do everything together and get diving. Have a conversation with PADI, they will help you navigate your options.

Liveaboard learning – a great way to get scuba certified.

A fabulous way to learn is with a liveaboard operator. I can highly recommend ProDive, in Cairns, Qld. Their 4-day open water course consists of PADI e-learning prior to arrival, one day of practical training at their specialized training centre; finished with 3 days, two nights on the Great Barrier Reef. Diving with your instructor, you will complete 4 open water dives and become a certified diver. You can then divide your time between, eating, lounging on the sundeck, interacting with other divers and completing five more dives, including a very exciting night dive. I have watched ProDive in action and their instructors do a terrific job.  It’s great way of learning, surrounded by experienced divers, who are talking diving and dive destinations most of the day and night. Doing up to 9 dives, allows you to get more comfortable in the water, and there is plenty of marine life to see. My last trip out I saw bumphead parrot fish, giant trevally, cuttlefish, eels, anemone fish, reef sharks and my favourite, lots of turtles.


ProDive have 19 exclusive dive sites over four different reefs – Flynn, Thetford, Milln and Pellowe. It can be like diving in an aquarium, the visibility is goo, with very little current.

I did my PADI Enriched Air with ProDive, they also offer Advanced Open Water and Rescue

It’s never too late – TAKE THE DIVE WITH TANYA

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Published by emptynestdiver

Learning to dive in my fifties has been a great adventure, I am a senior scuba diver but young at heart.

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