What scuba course should you do? Man learning to scuba dive

What PADI Course Should You Do? And Other FAQs Answered

PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is one of the world’s most recognized scuba training organizations, and it offers a wide range of courses catering to various skill levels and interests in the diving world. Here’s a breakdown of the courses they typically offer:

Skip to FAQs

Adult Entry Level Courses:

  1. Discover Scuba Diving: This is an introductory experience, not a certification, aimed at giving beginners a taste of scuba diving under the direct supervision of a PADI Pro. If you are unsure about whether you will like diving and / or get nervous around the water this is a good place to start as it is less of an investment in time and money compared to Open Water.
  2. Open Water Diver: This is the foundational course where beginners learn the essentials of scuba diving, including equipment usage and basic safety principles. Upon completion, divers are certified to dive independently with a buddy to a maximum depth of 18 meters. This is where many people start and where I would recommend starting if you are comforable in the water.

Follow on Courses:

  1. Adventure Diver & Advanced Open Water Diver: These courses are designed for certified divers looking to enhance their skills and explore specific diving activities like deep diving, wreck diving, or night diving.
  2. Rescue Diver: This course focuses on handling and preventing problems and teaches divers how to manage more complex emergency situations.
  3. Master Scuba Diver: This is the highest recreational diver rating in the PADI system. It involves completing the Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver courses, and five PADI Specialty Diver courses.
  4. Dive Master: The first professional level in the PADI system. Dive Masters can guide certified divers and assist in teaching scuba courses.
  5. Specialty Courses: These are focused courses that allow divers to delve deeper into specific areas of interest, such as Deep Diver, Wreck Diver, Enriched Air Diver, and Digital Underwater Photographer, among many others.
  6. Instructor Development Course (IDC): This is for those looking to become PADI Instructors. It is an intensive program that prepares candidates to teach PADI courses.
  7. TecRec Courses: These courses are for experienced divers looking to venture beyond recreational limits. They cover technical diving, which often involves the use of special gases and equipment for deep and extended dives.
  8. Rebreather Diver: This course trains divers on using rebreathers, which are advanced pieces of equipment that recycle the air you breathe, allowing for longer dives with less gas.
  9. First Aid & CPR: PADI also offers Emergency First Response courses, focusing on CPR and First Aid, both primary care (CPR) and secondary care (first aid). While these are not diving courses per se, they are crucial skills for divers.

Kids Courses:

PADI Bubblemaker Program:

  • Age Requirement: 8 years and older.
  • Description: This is a fun introduction to the underwater world, conducted in the safety of a swimming pool. Under the guidance of a PADI professional, kids will take their first breaths underwater and learn about scuba diving equipment. The maximum depth is just 2 meters/6 feet.

PADI Seal Team:

  • Age Requirement: 8 years and older.
  • Description: This is an exciting pool-only program where kids undertake “AquaMissions” to learn basic diving skills, environmental awareness, and have fun with underwater games. It’s designed as a precursor to the full Open Water Diver course for when they’re older.

PADI Junior Open Water Diver Course:

  • Age Requirement: 10-14 years old.
  • Description: This course mirrors the adult Open Water Diver course but is tailored for younger participants. Upon completion, young divers between the ages of 10 and 11 can dive with a PADI professional or a certified parent/guardian to a maximum depth of 12 meters/40 feet. Those aged 12 to 14 can dive with any certified adult to the same depths.

After turning 15, the Junior certification can be upgraded to a regular Open Water Diver certification.

Wondering what the difference is between PADI and the other associations – check out our post on that?

Frequently asked questions:

Can I do my open water after doing my discover scuba course and do I get any credits?

  • Yes, after completing the Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) program, you can proceed to the Open Water Diver (OWD) course. PADI allow the skills you learned during your DSD to be credited towards the OWD course.
  • If you’re considering the Discover Scuba Diving program with a potential interest in full certification later, communicate this to your instructor when arranging your session. This way, your Discover Scuba Diving session can be tailored to serve as a credit towards the Open Water Diver Course, saving you both time and cost later on.
  • The structure of the Discover Scuba Diving experience is similar to the initial stages of the Open Water Diver Course. It encompasses theory, a confined water dive, and an optional dive in open waters. By letting your instructor know your future plans, the dives you undertake during your Discover Scuba session can be credited as the first set of dives for your Open Water Diver Course. Consequently, instead of the standard requirement of five confined and four open water dives for certification, you’d only need to complete four confined and three open water dives.

I have done some fun dives elsewhere; do they count towards my open water?

  • Fun dives do provide experience, but they don’t count as formal training towards the Open Water Diver certification. You will still need to complete the required confined water sessions, knowledge reviews, and open water dives to earn the certification.

How deep can you go after your discover scuba course?

  • After completing the Discover Scuba Diving experience, you are limited to a maximum depth of 12 meters (40 feet) and always need to be accompanied by a professional diver. Remember DSD is not a certification.

How deep can you go after your open water diver course?

  • Once you’re certified as an Open Water Diver, you’re trained to dive to a maximum depth of 18 meters (60 feet).

How deep can you go after your advanced open water diver course?

  • After completing the Advanced Open Water Diver course, you can dive up to a maximum depth of 30 meters (100 feet).

I can’t swim; can I do a scuba course?

  • Basic swimming skills are typically a prerequisite for the Open Water Diver course. You don’t need to be an Olympic swimmer, but you’ll need to demonstrate basic comfort and competence in the water, which often includes a continuous 200-meter swim and a 10-minute float or tread.
  • If you want to learn scuba diving, it is well worth getting comfortable in the water and even a bit of practicing snorkelling if you can. This way you will enjoy the course and find it a lot easier!

I have done snorkeling; can I skip ahead in the course?

  • While snorkeling experience can be beneficial for comfort and familiarity in the water, it doesn’t replace the specific training and skills required for scuba diving. Therefore, you can’t skip portions of the Open Water Diver course based on snorkeling experience alone.

Can I just do the open water dives part of the open water course?

  • The Open Water Diver course is structured to ensure divers have both the knowledge and practical skills to dive safely. While it might be possible to start with the open water dives if you’ve completed the theory and confined water sessions elsewhere (often referred to as a referral), you can’t skip straight to the open water dives without the preliminary training.

I have done SSI/PADI Open Water; can I do my advanced with a different association?

  • Yes, many dive training organizations, including SSI and PADI, recognize certifications from other recognized agencies. So, if you’re certified as an Open Water Diver with PADI, you can pursue your Advanced Open Water Diver (or its equivalent) with SSI, and vice versa. Always check with the specific dive center or association to ensure there are no specific prerequisites or requirements. When booking on adventuro just put in the comments section any previous experience you have and who you trained with
Share the love:
Co-founder and Chief Adventurer

I am Max, the co-founder and CEO of adventuro. We are on a mission to help you get into the sports you have always wanted to try, or develop in the sports you love, exploring new skills and locations. We do this by partnering with the best instructors, guides, and activity centres to get a great spread from beginner all the way to instructor training.

For too long, it has been way to confusing to find your next steps, or even to know where to start when getting into adventure sports. I am an experienced and/or qualified paraglider, skydiver, scuba diver, freediver, power boat driver, snowboarder, kitesurfer, kayaker, mountain biker, surfer, dirt biker, wakeboarder, and sailor.

Related Activities


And get 10% off straight to your email!