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How Old Do You Have to Be to Scuba Dive?

Updated on March 20, 2012

The Minimum Age for Scuba Diving

How old do you have to be to scuba dive? In most cases, the answer is 10 years old.

That is the minimum age a child in the United States can complete a course to receive an open water certification and divers card giving permission for the child to dive in the open ocean at limited depths with an adult present.

However, there are programs for younger kids to learn scuba skills in a swimming pool. These classes can help youngsters decide whether they'd later like to take a class that will allow them to become fully certified scuba divers.

Here's more about both types of scuba diving programs for kids.


10 is the Minimum Age for Scuba Certification in the US

Children who are at least 10 years old can become certified divers by passing a course offered by PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors), NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) or SSI (Scuba Schools International).

To become a certified scuba diver, kids need to be at least 10 years old, in good health, and able to pass the same diving skills tests as adults. However, kids who complete a diver certification program are not allowed to dive as deep as adults who complete the same program. Junior divers are limited to a depth of 40 feet (18 m).

Certification courses typically consist of three parts - knowledge development (which may be done at home, online or in a class), confined water skills training (typically in a swimming pool) and open water dives with an instructor to demonstrate that you've learned all the skills from the books, DVDs and/or pool sessions. Kids and adults who pass all three parts of the course can then receive their diver certification and card.

PADI Diving Programs for Kids Between 8 and 10

If your child is interested in scuba diving but isn't old enough to complete the junior open water diver certification, they may still be able to "get their feet wet" (and the rest of their body, too!) with the PADI Seal Team or Discover Scuba Diving program.

The Seal Team program introduces kids who are at least 8 years old to scuba gear and techniques in the safety of a swimming pool. Seal Team kids go on "AquaMissions" in the pool. The first missions teach the basics of diving, including buoyancy, clearing your mask, how to use a regulator and other scuba skills. Then kids move on to learn about topics such as underwater photography, navigation, environmental awareness and more.

The Discover Scuba Diving program is a one-time class that teaches kids or adults about the basics of scuba diving. Participants get introduced to scuba gear, basic skills and safety rules, and put their new skills to use in a pool or shallow water. Some Discover Scuba Diving programs include an actual scuba dive in open water, which may be counted toward the PADI Scuba Diver or Open Water Diver certification later.

What Do You Think About the Minimum Age for Scuba Diving?

Do you think the minimum age for scuba diving is too young?

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Junior Scuba Divers on Their First Dive

Share Your Thoughts on "How Old Do You Have to Be to Scuba Dive?"

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    • lisa42 profile image

      lisa42 6 years ago from Sacramento

      Brittany, thanks for visiting.

      Jason, you're right - safety is always the number 1 priority for instructors. My 11-year-old son just finished the first part of his training and does his open water dives next weekend to get his certification. The hardest thing for him is the weight of the gear. He's barely 70 lbs himself, so dealing with the tank and BCD rig is a bit challenging for him. But he's excited!

    • Jason Marovich profile image

      Jason F Marovich 6 years ago from Detroit

      It was many years ago, but I was certified SCUBA as a teenager. I wasn't aware that youths as young as ten could get certified, but I can testify that the professionals that gave us our water training (in a pool) had our safety as their number one concern. Interesting article.

    • profile image

      brittanygriffiths 6 years ago

      I would love to go scuba diving, I think is beautiful to see wants under the sea and all those things that have been lost or found .