FAQs To Help You Become a Scuba Diver

Scuba diving Philadelphia–or perhaps greater Bucks County? It seems like this land-locked region is an odd place to get one’s feet wet, learn to love breathing masks and master the intricacies of this sport.

But in fact, it’s the ideal place to learn when the folks doing the teaching live and breathe for the experience, and they want to make sure everyone else develops a passion for scuba diving Philadelphia–at least until they break free of Philadelphia and Bucks County to search for their corner of aquatic paradise.

We ask the questions you would on this page – and perhaps a few that you haven’t thought up!

What’s required to learn scuba diving Philadelphia or Bucks County?

A sense of adventure. A love of nature. And a proper scuba certification that qualifies you to enjoy every moment of the experience because you stay safer and more confident. Learning to scuba dive close to your Philadelphia home is actually a three-stage process and each stage is critical to your enjoyment of the sport.

What does the first stage of the certification process include?

Acquiring knowledge that’s vital to becoming a skilled participant. This curriculum is crammed with basics you can take to the bank from the moment you undertake your first experience, like:

  • Learning to plan for every dive so you stay safer and the dive is more memorable.
  • Choosing scuba gear that’s right for your budget and needs.
  • How to use underwater signaling methods and more.

But, you won’t just read, eager scuba fan. You’ll use media to master techniques, including the PADI Open Water Diver Manual and the tablet version (PADI Open Water Diver Touch™). You can go online to access PADI eLearning®.

Videos and pool time in and around Philadelphia reinforce everything you learn and at the end of each study module, you’ll answer questions that reinforce your understanding of the material. Worry you’ll get confused? Don’t be. Your PADI guide stays with you until the day you take the exam that proves you’ve got a solid grip on scuba basics.

Once I survive step one, what’s next?

Confined water dives. Why confined? Because it’s easier to gain confidence in a small, controllable environment and that’s exactly what you’ll do as soon as you start diving. Those scuba diving Philadelphia environs are so diverse, you couldn’t get bored if you tried; from pools and calm beaches to lakes and rivers. You may even learn about Bucks County locations you’ve never visited.

At this point, you’ll gain valuable insights into setting up your gear, ridding your mask of water, getting in and out of the water and you’ll become familiar with buoyancy control. With each accomplishment, you’ll master safety procedures and underwater navigational techniques, so when you’re ready for your first open water dive outside Philadelphia, you are going to feel empowered.

What if I’m not ready for step three – Open Water Dives?

You will be our first! That’s the beauty of the PADI system and our methodical 3-step training program. By the time you’re ready for open water dives away from Philadelphia and Bucks County, you’ll be mentally and physically ready. And since your instructor stays close, even if you make a mistake you will correct course fast during the four mandatory dives staged over a two-day period.

Most students undertake this part of the program close to home—in Philadelphia or other parts of Bucks County, but plenty of eager beavers insist on spreading their wings, so we can offer you the option of undertaking your open dives elsewhere. No matter which option you prefer, the underwater world you encounter following your full complement of training options is worth all of the time and effort you devoted to your education.

Will it take forever to get my certification?

Your certification process adheres to your schedule, not ours. The PADI Open Water Diver program is flexible and customized, so you set both the tone and the time. Decide how far you want to push yourself and within that time frame, we create a plan that suits your personal and professional needs. You’ll quickly join other Philadelphia and Bucks County students we have mentored during confined and open water dives in as few as three or four days.

But just because you can finish your certification training in four days or less, that doesn’t mean you can’t take it slow. Our goal—getting you to become not just accomplished but comfortable and confident every time you take to the water–is likely your goal, too. And who better to set the pace at which you learn best than you?

What about cost? Must I raid my kid’s college fund?

Hardly! Besides, putting a price on your training constrains your need to learn methodically, which is why everyone sets their own pace. Your training costs will be unique. Other investments involve the amount of scuba diving gear you buy and the costs of outings outside Philadelphia and Bucks County.

Researchers comparing fees and lessons associated with popular outdoor sports have come up with a list of comparisons, so use these as benchmarks. Scuba lessons are in the same ballpark as:

  • Half a day’s worth of private golf lessons or water-ski instruction.
  • Around three hours each of kayaking or fly-fishing lessons.
  • You’ll spend around the same amount of money for a day of expert surfboard training.
  • Scuba training costs compare to fees for a full weekend of rock climbing instruction.

In fact, serious party animals compare the cost of scuba training and certification to a major night on the town in Philadelphia, and who are we to disagree with them?

Does that make scuba diving in Philadelphia or Bucks County a terrific value for the money?

That’s a good way of putting it. PADI scuba instructors are top of the line experts who have pursued their passion with a dedication that pays off every time they train a new student. Not only do they spent years refining their dives, but they’ve encountered circumstances that required them to respond to all sorts of conditions.

The certification you receive once you complete scuba diving Philadelphia training is a priceless accomplishment. What other sport certifies you only after you have undertaken a rigorous program that trains the mind and body for underwater adventures? Further, PADI Dive training tends to change people the moment they get certified. They’re more confident. Scuba diving is known to enhance one’s social life too!

How much scuba diving gear do I have to buy?

Far be it for us to tell you how much to spend on a sport that provides so much satisfaction and joy, but we can tell you that you’ll pay a modest tuition for classes leading up to your certification and while there’s enough scuba diving gear to fill a good-size boat available online, on shelves of sporting goods stores and at dive shops, your basic shopping list may only include fins, a mask, and a snorkel.

Some divers add wetsuits to their scuba diving gear from the get-go. This sport offers aficionados a wide array of rental equipment, so many of the necessities you require can be leased until you build your own library. As with all products and accessories associated with this sport, the better your gear fits, the more enjoyable your dives, so get the fit and features you crave by being discriminating when you shop.

Are there benefits to owning my own scuba diving gear?

Aside from the aforementioned fit and features, divers tend to feel more comfortable wearing their own scuba diving gear. It can be a pain in the neck to arrange for rentals if you’re the spontaneous sort and like the idea of spur-of-the-moment dives around Philadelphia or Bucks County. With your own scuba diving gear, you get to know how everything responds underwater, thus you enjoy more carefree dives.

Dare we add how much owning your scuba diving gear adds to your image? And if you’re lucky enough to travel far from Philadelphia and Bucks County regularly, you might require specialized equipment, like tropical scuba diving gear, equipment designed for temperate or cold water. The more skills you develop in diverse waters, the more sophisticated your equipment library will become.

How do I know which scuba diving gear is considered “the best”?

If we knew that, we would be millionaires and would spend our lives diving 12 months a year. In fact, there is no such thing as “best scuba gear” because each item manufactured for scuba diving is as unique as you are.

Need suggestions to enable your gear search? Consult the dive professionals who trained you if you seek recommendations. You may want to ask the opinions of fellow divers, and it’s wise to read equipment reviews on the Internet to learn which products to avoid!

Can my kids take scuba diving lessons?

That depends upon the age of your youngsters. The minimum age for scuba diving Philadelphia is 10, and for those under the age of 15, young divers can earn their PADI Junior Open Water Diver Certification. Once they celebrate that 16th birthday, certification can be upgraded to the adult version. By the way, both PADI eLearning and PADI Open Water Diver Touch programs require permission from parents or guardians.

Aside from the aforementioned age limits, children can’t get in on the action until they are medically cleared. Some kids may not be physically suited to scuba diving. That’s why parents must fill out and sign a questionnaire ruling out medical conditions. On the other hand, even if a child has an ailment that could be problematic, he can still be cleared by a doctor submitting a medical form that says the child is okay to dive.

Are only able-bodied swimmers eligible for PADI certification classes?

As long as you can demonstrate basic swimming skills that show you’re comfortable in the water, you can be trained. You don’t even have to live in Philadelphia or Bucks County. We welcome everyone. Instructors will ask you to swim between 200 and 300 yards without stopping while wearing basic gear and float while treading water for about 10 minutes? No worries about style or time. It’s your audition; do it your way!

But, suppose you have physical challenges? Not a problem. There are many adaptive techniques available to people with disabilities. You’ll find plenty of certified divers exploring oceans from the vantage point of a face mask and snorkel who don’t let the fact that they’re amputees or paraplegics get in the way of having the time of their lives undersea.

What if being submerged has presented problems in the past?

We’re used to working with scuba divers who have experienced difficulties in the past and have helped most overcome them. Here are a couple of examples you may be able to relate to:

  • A student complained of ear issues. Once she checked with her doctor to find out if she suffered ear or sinus irregularities (she didn’t), we reassured her that the discomfort she felt was a normal result of her eardrums adjusting to pressure changes and that if she could fly, she could dive.
  • Other potential divers worried that histories of allergies, smoking, diabetes, heart or respiratory issues could preclude them from diving. We always direct worriers to get clearance from a doctor before signing up. It’s not unusual for doctors to contact the Divers Alert Network (DAN) if they need expert advice to clear someone for diving.
  • A surprising number of men and women came to us eager to dive but worried that previous bouts of sunburn, dehydration, and seasickness could prohibit them from engaging in scuba diving. We assured them that there are methods, techniques, and products on the market to help them avoid these issues.
  • “Will I run into sharks?” It’s a legitimate worry, so we do our best to explain “shark etiquette” and ways to enjoy seeing these magnificent creatures without coming into contact. We also get the occasional inquiry about pregnancy and always recommend moms-to-be avoid diving until after they give birth.

Will I learn emergency techniques so I’m confident when I dive?

You will. Lots of them. First, you are likely to engage in recreational diving in shallow waters (around 130-feet; maybe less) because that’s where the brightest fish, wildest colors and warm water are located. Next, it’s normal to worry, “What if I use up all of the air in my tank?” We train you to read and monitor air gauges and master air sharing with buddies so you react calmly to unforeseen circumstances.

Perhaps the biggest fear concerning potential scuba divers is whether or not they will become claustrophobic. The good news is that you’ll be training in an era that offers you all sorts of relaxation techniques and gear–like translucent masks–that help counteract panic symptoms should they arise. You’ll quickly realize that your instructor anticipates all sorts of reactions in students, so you can feel confident that they will be by your side to help you overcome your fears.

Can I borrow materials I need to study for my certification?

Every diver learns differently. You’ll get the most of your resource choice (PADI Open Water Diver Online; PADI Open Water Diver Touch manual and video for tablet-based learning or working from a PADI Open Water Diving guide in concert with videos and DVDs) if you have your own set of materials so you can mark them up, replay media and refer to these lessons long after you’re no longer a student.

Your certification materials aren’t the only resources you’ll need as you invest yourself in the sport of scuba diving. You’ll also need a log book, RDP table or a state-of-the-art compendium of materials known as a PADI eRDPML. This acronym stands for Electronic Recreational Dive Planner Training Materials for Scuba and it’s an epicenter of dive tracking that is a relatively affordable must-have these days.

Where can I go to get trained and certified?

Where else? Bucks County. Philadelphia. We’re your local PADI Dive Center and we’re prepared to get you from minnow to Cousteau-worthy near your home. When it comes to getting you all wet, we look upon Philadelphia as one large water facility. We can train you at community and commercial pools, Bucks County rivers or lakes. If you’re up for a road trip, we can take you to the Jersey shore.

Understand that we’re responsible for your safety, so before we suggest dive locations or training venues, we will consider your experience, site conditions and permissions required to dive a specific spot. We are also happy to train students at locations that are of interest to them, as long as that destination is feasible.

I’m already a certified diver. Does it benefit me to become PADI certified?

Yes, PADI certification benefits certified divers and it’s worth the time and effort you invest to add this prestigious credential to your diving resume. We consider certifications from other organizations to be a great first step and urge divers eager to up their reputations and skills to undertake this training because PADI techniques won’t replicate previous training. There’s no equivalency or crossover. Think of your first training as getting a bachelor’s degree and PADI training as your master’s.

You don’t have to stop growing as a scuba diver after getting this training either. You can continue on with your education, aspire to become a PADI Divemaster or instructor, pursue Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI) credentials or take your diving career as far as you can as new programs come along. That’s why the PADI Five Star Instructor Development Center or Career Development Center (CDC) should be on your speed dial!

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I’ve been diving and teaching at A-1 since 2007. We are like a second family, and some of my best friends have come from this group. Come for the diving, stay for the people.

AJ Bubb 2024
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