TV shows like “Sea Hunt” and “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” gave American audiences their first taste of the beauty and excitement that lay beneath the seas. Then, as now, learning to scuba dive gave entry into that new world of adventure and discovery.
The word scuba is an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus and refers to the equipment which allows properly trained scuba divers to safely explore the underwater environment. At the heart of a scuba diver’s training is learning how this equipment works and the procedures and techniques for its safe use in a course of study that leads to certification.
Scuba training is done by instructors who are themselves trained and certified to conduct courses for beginning divers by one of more than a dozen organizations known as training agencies*. With a couple of nonprofit exceptions, scuba training agencies are for-profit companies that design and publish training manuals and materials, promulgate training standards, certify and monitor the performance of instructors and issue diver certifications, the coveted C-Cards which serve to vouch for a diver’s qualifications.
Instructors operate under the rules and regulations of the agency to which they belong and teach scuba classes either independently or, more commonly, employed by and under the umbrella and supervision of a dive store and training facility.
Diver training consists of three components: 1. Academic or classroom study, 2. Confined Water or pool training and 3. Open Water training. Entry requirements, training procedures and qualification tests vary around the world. The purpose of this article is to make the reader aware of the requirements and training necessary to qualify as an entry level scuba diver in the United States and throughout most of North America and the Caribbean.
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