How Old Do You Have to Be to Go Scuba Diving: Age Requirements Explained

Written and Reviewed By

Junior-Open-water

Scuba diving is an incredible experience that in my opinion, every single person should try at least once in their life.

In my case, I was exposed to the hobby at the ripe age of 16, when I got my PADI Open Water Certification at a scuba diving summer camp in Hawaii.

To this day, I am so grateful for this experience at such a young age, that it even turned into a career for me.

I would love for more young kids to pick up the hobby, so in this article, we’ll answer the question: “How old do you have to be to go scuba diving.”

While technically anyone could go scuba diving at any age, we’re referring to the age requirements for certified scuba divers, via the main agencies.

The minimum ages required by each agency are as follows:

  • PADI – 8yrs old

  • SSI  6yrs old

  • NAUI  – 10yrs old

These age requirements and certification levels come with many restrictions and exceptions. 

Keep reading, in order learn more about all of the different junior programs these agencies have to over.

If you’d like to learn more about PADI vs SSI vs NAUI, we also have an article about that.

PADI

PADI is the largest scuba diving certification agency in the world, with over 28 million certified divers as of 2019.

They have two programs geared towards kids, being their bubble maker program that starts at age 8, and their junior open water diver that starts at age 10. 15 year olds and up are allowed to participate in the same open water certification as the rest.

  • Bubble Maker Program: Minimum Age: 8yrs Old
  • Junior Open Water Diver: minimum age 10
  • Open Water Diver: minimum age 15
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PADI Bubble Makers

PADI Bubble Makers Program

The PADI Bubble Maker program is a scuba diving program designed for children between the ages of 8 and 10. It’s a fun and safe way for kids to experience scuba diving in a controlled environment, such as a swimming pool, under the supervision of a PADI-certified instructor.

The program teaches kids how to use scuba diving equipment, how to breathe underwater, and how to move around in the water. It is a great way to introduce children to the world of scuba diving and to encourage them to develop a lifelong love for the ocean and its inhabitants.

PADI Junior Open Water Divers

The PADI Junior Open Water Diver program is a scuba diving certification program designed for young people between the ages of 10 and 14.

It is a comprehensive course that teaches young divers the fundamentals of scuba diving, including dive theory, equipment use and maintenance, underwater navigation, and buoyancy control.

The program consists of classroom sessions, confined water dives, and open water dives, and is conducted under the supervision of a PADI-certified instructor.

Upon completion of the program, participants receive a PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification, which allows them to dive with a certified adult to a maximum depth of 12 meters (40 feet).

The certification can also be upgraded to a regular Open Water Diver certification once the participant reaches the age of 15.

PADI Open Water Diver - 15 Years Old

PADI Open Water Diver

The PADI Open Water Diver program is likely the most popular scuba diving certification in the world. Participants must be at least 15 years old in order to enter the program.

The program consists of classroom sessions, confined water dives, and open water dives, and is conducted under the supervision of a PADI-certified instructor.

During the program, participants learn the fundamentals of scuba diving, including dive theory, equipment use and maintenance, underwater navigation, and buoyancy control.

They also learn important safety procedures and how to plan and execute safe and enjoyable dives.

Upon completion of the program, participants receive a PADI Open Water Diver certification, which allows them to dive independently with a certified dive buddy to a maximum depth of 18 meters (60 feet).

SSI

SSI Explorers Program - 6 Years Old

SSI Explorers

SSI (Scuba Schools International) allows kids to start diving at just six years old, via their SSI Explorers program.

Inside the program, kids from six and up can participate in snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming and Freediving, giving them a sneak peak of the underwater world. Kids will also learn about ocean conservation to help them fall in love with the hobby.

SSI Open Water Certification - 10 Years Old

SSI Open water

SSI’s main and most popular certification is the SSI Open Water Certification, available to those 10 years and older, and is most comparable to PADIs open water certification.

The SSI Open Water Diver certification, provided by Scuba Schools International (SSI), is widely recognized and accepted worldwide.

In the course, divers learn the basics of scuba diving, including theory, equipment maintenance, and underwater techniques, all under the guidance of experienced professionals.

The training consists of both classroom sessions and hands-on practice in confined water environments, such as swimming pools, before finally diving in open water settings like oceans or lakes.

NAUI

NAUI Junior Scuba Diving Certification - 10 yrs

NAUI Junior Scuba

The NAUI Junior Scuba Diver certification presents an exciting opportunity for young individuals to explore the wonders of the underwater world. This certification, tailored specifically for youngsters aged 10 to 14 years, offers an introduction to scuba diving, paying particular attention to the necessary safety measures and the equipment used in the sport.

As a result, it equips junior divers with the fundamental skills and knowledge required to dive safely, instilling a sense of responsibility and environmental stewardship.

Throughout the course, participants will be trained in confined water areas, such as swimming pools, before progressing to open water dives under the supervision of experienced NAUI instructors.

At age 15, the NAUI Junior Scuba Diver certification can be upgraded to the Experienced NAUI Scuba Diver Certification.

Factors to Consider for Young Divers

While the agencies mentioned above have age requirements in order to become certified, you may not want to instantly send a kid into the program as soon as they are of age.

There are other factors to consider before having someone try scuba diving at a young age.

Medical Considerations

When considering scuba diving at a young age, it’s vital to evaluate one’s physical health, and certain medical conditions may pose risks.

A doctor should assess your medical fitness and determine if it’s safe for you to participate.

Medical conditions that may affect one’s ability to dive include asthma, heart conditions, and ear or sinus problems.

Additionally, individuals must maintain a healthy weight, as obesity and being severely underweight can also impact diving safety. 

Kids that scuba dive should feel comfortable in the water enough, and have the ability to swim and float well.

Cognitive and Emotional Factors

Cognitive abilities and emotional maturity also play an important role in scuba diving.

Children may not possess the cognitive abilities to process the necessary training and skills, as well as the emotional maturity to handle stressful situations underwater.

Moreover, divers must exhibit a responsible and composed behavior, as panic or lapses in judgment can put both themselves and their dive buddies at risk.

Before having a young kid go scuba diving, use your best judgement to see if they are mature enough to dive.

Conclusion

To recap, the minimum ages for the main certification agencies are:

  • PADI – 8yrs old

  • SSI  6yrs old

  • NAUI  – 10yrs old

Anyone can go scuba diving regardless of age and certification, but proper training is essential to diving safely. Most charters and scuba diving businesses will not allow uncertified divers onboard, especially if they are young.

While it’s important to know the minimum ages allowed for certification, any young scuba diver should be emotionally mature, physically fit, and understand the risks involved in scuba diving.

If you have any questions about young scuba divers, be sure to leave a comment and we’ll help out as best we can.

 

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