How much do scuba diving lessons cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much do scuba diving lessons cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much do scuba diving lessons cost?

$500 – $1,800average cost (scuba diving course + personal gear)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$500 – $1,800 average cost (scuba diving course + personal gear)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Tara Farmer
Written by
Tara Farmer
Edited by
Kristen Cramer
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Tom Grupa

Scuba diving lessons cost

Scuba diving lessons cost $40 to $150 on average for an introductory class to test the waters without buying gear or equipment. The average cost to get scuba certified is $500 to $1,800, including the tuition and required gear. Scuba diving certification cost varies by the location and certifying agency.

Scuba diving lessons cost
Factor Average cost
Introductory lesson (optional) $40 – $150
Entry-level certification / Open Water Diver course (group) $300 – $1,000
Entry-level certification / Open Water Diver course (private or semi-private, price per person) $700 – $1,700
Basic gear requirements (mask, snorkel, fins, boots) $200 – $800

Cost data is from research and costs reported by Lessons members & pros.

A diving teacher showing students how to position their mask.
A diving teacher showing students how to position their mask.
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Scuba diving certification cost by agency

The average cost for scuba diving certification is $300 to $1,000 for an entry-level certification, depending on the location, certifying agency, and what the tuition includes. The most popular certifying agencies are PADI, NAUI, SDI, and SSI.

Scuba diving certification cost by agency
Agency Entry-level course Average cost
Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Open Water Diver (OWD) $350 – $900
National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) NAUI Scuba Diver $350 – $1,000
Scuba Divers International (SDI) Open Water Scuba Diver $350 – $800
Scuba Schools International (SSI) Open Water Diver (OWD) $300 – $600

Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI)

Open Water Diver (OWD) certification from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) costs $350 to $900 on average. PADI is the largest and most popular agency for scuba diving certification. PADI is a for-profit organization and offers many continuing education and certification opportunities after OWD certification.

National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI)

The National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) charges $350 to $1,000 for their entry-level Scuba Diver certification. NAUI is non-profit organization and the oldest certifying agency in the world, with Jacques Cousteau as a past advisory board member.

  • NAUI's entry-level course offers classroom, textbook, and eLearning options for the academic part of the course.

  • The third phase of the NAUI Scuba Diver certification requires 4 to 6 open water dive sessions, depending on the location.

Scuba Divers International (SDI)

Scuba Divers International (SDI) was founded in 1998, making it the youngest agency to enter the scene. SDI—a division of Technical Diving International, the world's largest technical diving training body—charges $350 to $800 for their Open Water Scuba Diver course.

  • SDI is currently the only agency offering a certification to dive alone. Their Solo Diver certification course costs $150 to $400 on average.

  • SDI's entry-level class uses modern dive computers—instead of traditional diving tables—that students begin using from day 1.

Scuba Schools International (SSI)

Scuba Schools International (SSI) charges $300 to $600 on average for their Open Water Diver course. SSI is headquartered in Colorado and has 2,800+ dive centers around the world. Unlike other agencies, all SSI training takes place at one of their centers instead of at a local dive shop.

  • SSI's Open Water Diver certification requires at least 5 open water dives.

  • If you are traveling, SSI allows you to borrow materials and receive your certification online.

A scuba diving instructor leads a group of students underwater.
A scuba diving instructor leads a group of students underwater.

Scuba certification process & requirements

Open Water Diver (OWD) certification is the most basic scuba certification most agencies offer to prepare you to dive without an instructor or take more advanced classes. This entry-level scuba certification consists of 3 phases—knowledge development, confined water dives, and open water dives.

Introductory lesson

Many dive shops offer a short introductory scuba diving class for $40 to $150 so you can try out the sport without making a big commitment. Introductory classes typically supply all the necessary gear. An instructor shows you the basics, usually in shallower depth, and answers any questions you may have.

Phase 1 – academics

The academic phase of the OWD course costs $140 to $250 when purchased alone, but most dive centers include this cost in their tuition pricing. This phase teaches theory and fundamentals for safe diving, may be completed virtually or in a classroom, and takes 5 to 10+ hours, depending on the agency.

Phase 2 – confined water training

Confined water training is the second phase of OWD certification and involves 1 to 5 sessions in shallow water, typically in a pool. This phase allows you to learn and practice using scuba gear in a safe and controlled environment.

Most confined water training sessions include:

  • Learning how to set up and put on your diving equipment

  • Learning how to do a buddy check

  • Learning how to safely enter the water

  • Practicing surface skills

  • Practicing in shallow water

  • Moving to deeper water

  • Exiting the water

  • Learning how to properly disassemble your diving equipment

Phase 3 – open water evaluation

Most agencies require 4 or more open water dive sessions—typically done over 2+ days—as the final phase of OWD certification. These progressive sessions allow you to practice and get comfortable in open water up to 60 feet deep and allow the instructor to assess and confirm your scuba diving competency.

A group of scuba divers underwater.
A group of scuba divers underwater.

Minimum requirements

Most diving centers and certifying agencies have similar requirements to take scuba diving lessons. Minimum requirements typically include:

  • Age – You must be at least 10 years old for junior classes and at least 15 years old for the basic Open Water Diver course.

  • Health – You must complete a medical form confirming you are in good health.

  • Skills – You must be able to swim, float, and tread water.

    • Agencies often start with a water skills assessment involving swimming 200 meters or yards, floating for 10 minutes, and treading water for 10 minutes.

    • If you need to get more comfortable in the water first, private swimming lessons cost $40 to $80 per hour.

  • Gear – Required personal gear typically includes a mask, fins, snorkel, and dive boots. Some locations also recommend getting a wetsuit. Most facilities provide the rest of the gear you'll need to practice with during the class.

Specialty courses

Dive centers typically offer a wide range of courses and additional certifications after you pass an Open Water Diver course. These classes allow you to go deeper and develop additional underwater skills. Prices vary by course, but most classes cost the same or less than the Open Water Diver course.

Depending on the location, additional scuba diving classes may include:

  • Advanced open water diver

  • Rescue diver

  • Night diver

  • Solo diver

  • Underwater photography

A scuba diving instructor teaches students in a swimming pool.
A scuba diving instructor teaches students in a swimming pool.

Factors that influence the cost of scuba lessons

Many factors affect the cost of scuba certification, including:

  • Agency – Each certifying agency has different costs and requirements.

  • Instructor & company –Prices vary from dive center to dive center. The instructor's experience level also affects the course pricing.

  • Location – Scuba diving lessons overseas are often cheaper than U.S. classes, with classes in Asia typically being the cheapest. However, travel expenses make overseas classes more expensive if you are not already planning a trip there.

  • Age & class size

    • Scuba diving classes with 4+ students cost significantly less than private or semi-private lessons.

    • Junior scuba diving classes often cost more than adult classes because young students require smaller classes and more instructor supervision.

  • Training method – For the academic phase of your lessons, in-person classes typically cost more than eLearning formats.

  • Facility fees – Some facilities charge an open water access fee of $20 to $100 per day, not included in the diving course tuition.

  • Travel costs –Travel and lodging may add to the cost when taking a multiple day course out of town.

  • What's included – All-inclusive courses that provide gear and include certification fees cost more than a bare-bones class requiring you to buy or rent your gear and pay separately to obtain your certificate.

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Scuba diving lesson FAQs

How long are scuba diving lessons?

Scuba diving lessons for open water diver certification can take 3 days to several months, depending on the training format you choose. Most courses have 3 parts—academics, pool dives, and open water dives. Some people take the academic phase online at home and then complete the in-water phases later while on vacation.

Do you need to buy gear to go scuba diving?

No, you do not need to buy gear to go scuba diving, as most dive shops allow you to rent diving gear and equipment. However, many people choose to buy their personal gear—mask, fins, boots, snorkel, and sometimes a wetsuit—to ensure a comfortable fit and diving experience.

Where can I take scuba diving lessons?

You can take scuba lessons at:

  • Local dive shops or dive centers

  • Many vacation resorts in the U.S. and overseas

  • SSI Training Center or Resort locations

Is scuba diving certification worth it?

Scuba diving certification is worth it if you want the freedom to scuba dive safely and independently (with a buddy). Scuba diving certification also makes future diving experiences easier, as many dive shops only fill tanks for and rent equipment to certified scuba divers.

Tips for choosing scuba diving lessons

Follow these tips when searching for scuba diving lessons near you:

  • Before doing anything, confirm you are healthy and able to swim, float, and tread water.

  • Read dive center and scuba diving instructor reviews on Lessons and Google.

  • Check out the website of each certifying agency and choose a location connected to your preferred organization.

  • Ask about discounts and confirm what is included in the tuition cost.

Questions to ask scuba diving schools

Ask these important questions to help you choose the best scuba diving school:

  • Do you follow the World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC) training standards?

  • Is the academic part of the class online or in a classroom?

  • Does the tuition include all course materials?

  • Are certification fees included in the tuition price?

  • What gear and equipment do you provide, and what do I need to bring?

  • Do I need to rent or buy gear before the first day of class?

  • Where do you hold the confined and open water classes?

  • Are there any facility fees?

  • What other costs are associated with this course?

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