Ok you just received your first scuba certification, Open Water Diver, now what?
Well, one thing you should do that’s pretty obvious, DIVE! But there are also other dive avenues to cruise down that are a lot of fun and also educational. I’m talking about continuing education in the dive industry.
Now that you’re certified and have a few dives under the ol’ weight belt, it’s time to start thinking about your next class. I recommend the Advanced Open Water course. This course is a lot of fun and requires no test, which is nice. What it does require is for the diver do five special adventure dives with their instructor and do a little book work for those five dives.
Thirteen Adventure Dives
There are thirteen adventure dives to choose from. Two are required, Deep and Navigation. Than you can pick the other three. My favorites are Wreck, Night and Drift but there many others too choose from, Fish ID, Photography, Videography, Search and Recovery, Peak Performance, Buoyancy etc.
It could look something like this: You go on a deep dive, then you dive a wreck. Next maybe a cool drift dive, learn a little navigation, and than a sweet night dive and just like that - you’re a certified Advanced Open Water diver. Many dive shops will require this certification before they allow you to dive deeper than 60ft. so it’s a really good cert to have in your log book.
While you’re taking the Advanced course, you might as well add the Enriched Air diver cert with it. This is what’s called a specialty certification. And the most popular specialty cert in the industry.
If you’re getting your Advanced card you’re probably going to be diving a little deeper. The deeper you go the less bottom time you have. If you want more bottom time at depth you‘ll want to be breathing Nitrox, which is enriched air. In a nut shell, Nitrox pulls out nitrogen from your tank and adds more oxygen. The amount of nitrogen in our body is what determines how long you can stay at depth. So if you breathe in less nitrogen per breath, your body will absorb less; therefore you can stay down longer. Nitrox class takes just a few hours in the classroom. These two certs together make for an awesome deep dive on wrecks.
Now you’re an Advanced, Nitrox diver. Awesome, but you’ll want more.
Keeping with the specialty courses, you can go in many directions. You will know what type of diving interests you by now, so choose a specialty course that appeals to your interests. For instance, if you love wrecks (like me), choose the wreck diving specialty. This goes beyond swimming around the outside, this course will get you inside the wreck…safely.
If photography or videography is your thing, then take those specialty courses and learn some cool techniques for great underwater media.
If you’re like me, spearfishing gets your blood pumping. Well guess what? Underwater Hunter Specialty is calling your name. There is Deep Diver, Ice Diver, Night Diver, Drift Diver, and so on and so on. These are actual classes on these types of diving. Not just one dive like in the advanced class.
So what if you’ve done your Advanced class, already have numerous specialty certifications, but yet you still want more?
If you have that much training already, you must be diving a lot. That being the case, you should take the Rescue Diver course. This class is incredible. It was the pivot point for me in my scuba career. After I took this class I knew I wanted to be an instructor. Plus, my confidence in diving and being able to handle stressful diving situations sky-rocketed. This course teaches you how to handle dive accidents, a panicked diver, a missing diver, an unconscious diver at depth, an unconscious diver on the surface, among many others. Plus you learn basic CPR which is good in everyday life.
Wow, now you’re becoming a complete, confident, extremely experienced diver. But you still want more....
Now we’re getting serious. Dive Master awaits you. This is the first professional level class that will allow you to work in the industry. It teaches more than I can list in this article. It is intense and anyone who becomes a dive master should be very proud of the accomplishment. I’ve guided probably 20,000 divers in my career and still to this day love showing new and old divers my backyard, it never gets old.
Sometimes I run across “super divers” These are people who brag they have been diving for 30 years - but in reality only have about 50 dives logged. They like to tease people who have a bunch of certification cards saying, “You’re not a true diver, you just collect cards!”
My response to that is, I will hands down feel much more at ease diving with someone who has a bunch of cards, which correlates to a bunch of training, than someone who has been certified for 20 years and has only 40 dives logged. So continue your scuba education, its fun and who knows, it could even turn into a career.
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