My son has become very interested in scuba diving, but he is only 9 years old. I thought that in Alabama you had to be a certain age to become certified, but can not find that information. Do you know how old you have to be to get certified?
I think it is great that your son is interested in scuba diving. Always like to see new people get interested in diving. It really is a fun sport.
However, he is young and is actually too young to get certified through the major certification agencies.
Just to clarify: The state doesn't legislate at what age you can get your scuba diving certification - rather it is the certification agencies themselves that set their minimum age requirements.
Below are the requirements from some of the top scuba diving certification agencies.
The 2 most widely recognized certification agencies are PADI and NAUI.
PADI requires that you be 10 or older to take the certification course. Students younger than 15 will receive the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification. It can then be upgraded to PADI Open Water Diver certification upon reaching 15.
NAUI's minimum age to get certified is 12.
The next two most widely recognized agencies for certification are probably the YMCA and SSI (Scuba Schools International).
For the YMCA Scuba certification course, you must be 15 years of age or older. If you are between ages 12-14 you can earn the Junior Open Water Diver certification (requires that you dive with and adult diver).
SSI minimum age requirement for scuba certification is 10. I couldn't find this information on their website, but I called a dive shop that offers certification through SSI and that was the minimum age requirement that I was quoted.
One thing that your son might be interested in is the Skin Diver/Junior Skin Diver program that is offered by NAUI.
It isn't a scuba diving course but rather a snorkeling course. A NAUI Instructor will teach him how to snorkel and do breath-hold diving. You complete training and 2 open water dives (free dives - not with scuba gear). This certification class is for 8 year-olds and older.
In my opinion, whether the skin diver course would be beneficial for him would depend on his comfort level in the water. If he is a good swimmer and is comfortable with snorkeling, I'm not sure if it would be of much benefit.
But if he is not that comfortable in the water or hasn't done any snorkeling, this class may help with his comfort level and his confidence level when he does go for a scuba diving certification course.
Hope this information helps. If you want more information on what is required to get certified for diving and what the course actually entails, you can find more information on our intro page to scuba diving certification.
Good luck and let me know how it goes. I'd love to follow his progress.
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