There are many dive shops and schools that offer Scuba Diving Instruction. There are even scuba trips and scuba vacations that come compete with scuba certification and training. While modern day Scuba diving is safe most of the times, it is still a sport or hobby that includes risks and requires proper training. Thus, before enrolling into a training or certification program, you need to learn the basic criteria for choosing one.
1.) Make sure that the dive shop, school or course is affiliated with one of the major Scuba training organizations.
PADI (www.padi.com) and NAUI (www.naui.com) are the two most recognized training organizations. With a variety of dive courses and scuba training programs out there, your goal should be to find one that is reliable, respectable, honest and will offer you a thorough and yet positive certification experience.
2.) Like when shopping for anything else, if something seems like a bargain when compared to the costs of its competitors – it may not be a good one.
Some less then scrupulous dive shops will bait customers with very low prices that do not include the costs of equipment rentals, training materials, books or fees for open water certification dives. Make sure you know what is included in the price and select a scuba diving class that offers a comprehensive yet good value package. Ask for references – any quality scuba dive operation will gladly provide them for you.
3.) Do not settle for generic letters hanging on a wall, or yellowed in a book. Insist on recent references from recently certified students who you can contact either via phone or e-mail – if they will not provide such information – move on.
4.) Get as much background as you can on the instructor who will be taking your course.
Note the following details about your instructor and validate qualifications:
- What is his/her level of certification?
- How long have they been an instructor?
- How many classes have they taught?
- What other certification or accreditations does the instructor hold in terms of first aid or life saving techniques?
There is a lot of turnover in dive shops especially during summer months when there are many new hires with little real world experience. Insist on an instructor with at least one year of experience who has certified at least 25 students. Incidentally PADI insists that all of its Dive Instructors are also certified in CPR and Rescue Diving. The best instructors will hold not only Dive Master Instructor credentials but also multiple certifications in First Aid and Advanced Life Saving techniques.
5.) As much as possible, try to select a class where you will be taught by only a single instructor.
This is so you do not have to be exposed to different personalities or teaching techniques, which can be confusing. Find out how they handle the academics of Scuba training. Not all Scuba diving is field-work, class instruction ,especially things like how to read and understand dive tables, are so important they may just save your life.
6.) A note about equipment
It is a good idea to select a scuba training class where the students will be learning on the exact same scuba gear that the instructors are using. This just makes it easier to learn. Imagine learning to drive with an instructor who is driving an Indy Racer, while you are sitting in a Hyundai. And also any honest and reputable dive shop will offer you a significant student discount on the future purchase or rental of dive gear if you have gone through their certification program.