A Professional Association of Diving Instructors certification is acquired by studying written material and passing an examination, taking diving lessons in a confined area and then going for a series of open-water dives. All students must fill out a medical questionnaire that certifies they are fit to dive. In most areas, the minimum age for certification is 10, and those under 15 receive a junior certification.
There are paper, tablet and online versions of the PADI open water diver manual. It teaches individuals about planning dives, selecting scuba gear, signaling underwater and other safety essentials. Before students practice diving, instructors play videos that show diving techniques and also demonstrate each skill. Next, students learn to put on their gear, enter and leave the water, clear water out of their mask, remain buoyant, navigate underwater and dive safely. In open water, students usually take four dives in two days and practice their skills. Before completing the open-water course, students must be able to swim 200 yards without stopping and must tread water and float for 10 minutes.
Although it is possible to get PADI certification in three or four days, the length of the course is flexible and varies to suit individual needs. Students should have their own mask, snorkel and fins. Other equipment may be included in the course package or can be rented, although PADI recommends investing in personal equipment that fits comfortably.