New to Diving

By Julius
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Scuba divers swimming over colorful reef

Hey there and welcome to our ultimate new to diving guide 2024 brought to you by Social Diving! 😎

Did someone show you amazing photos from their last vacation? Were you mesmerized by a BBC documentary on sharks on Netflix?

Or did you meet that special someone in your life and they told you you HAVE TO get your Open Water Diver card?

Whatever brought you to scuba diving, we are happy you are here! This is the definitive guide on how to get your scuba diving certification.

We wrote this for everyone who is new to diving.

We have been in your shoes ourselves a didn’t know how to get started with scuba diving. Our guide is meant to help you decide if scuba diving is a good sport for you, where you can learn to dive, and which scuba diving courses are suitable for beginners.

Have fun!

How To Become A Certified Scuba Diver?

Becoming a certified scuba diver is really simple. These are the steps you need to take:

  • Take a Discover Scuba Diving course
  • Find out you LOVE diving
  • Sign up for an Open Water Diver course
  • Pass the diving theory exam
  • Complete the scuba skills session
  • Do at least 4 dives in open water
  • Get your certification card

That’s pretty much it…thank you for reading! 😁

Just kidding, of course, you’ll find a detailed guide below. However, in essence, these are the necessary steps to get scuba certified.

Scuba diver with lionfish
There is so much to explore underwater!

3 Steps To Become A Certified Scuba Diver​

Now that you know why scuba diving is super cool, let’s find out how to become a certified scuba diver, okay?

Many who are new to diving get confused by the number of training agencies, different course offers, and terminology. But don’t worry.

Becoming a certified scuba diver is actually pretty simple. No matter where you go or who certifies you there are three parts to every beginner diving course:

  1. Diving Theory
  2. Scuba Skills
  3. Open Water Dives

Discover Scuba Diving or Full Course?

If you know for sure, that you want to learn to dive and become a scuba diver (great decision!), you can skip this section and move on to the next one right away.

However, if you are unsure whether scuba diving could become a new hobby of yours, the best way to start off is a try dive, also called a Discover Scuba Diving event.

Here you can try out diving in a relaxed way without committing to a full dive course right away. Almost every dive center will offer this course in some way or another for you to try out if you like diving. 

Happy diver during discover scuba event

What do you do during a discover scuba diving course?

A Discover Scuba Diving event is all about the experience and no prior experience is needed. At any time during the dive, you will have a certified instructor by your side so that you can be completely relaxed when taking your first breaths underwater.

If you don’t like it (impossible ), you can at least say you tried it.

Once you signed up for the try dive we find a date that fits your schedule and all you need to bring is swim clothes and excitement.

Divers in pool
Discover scuba diving for the first time.

You can come on your own or – even better- bring your partner, friends, and family and make your first diving experiences together!

At first, we need to do some paperwork for your safety, this includes the medical questionnaire and insurance matters.

Afterward, we put together our equipment, very important for a diver. Before we jump into the water, you get a short briefing, and..let’s go!

Discover scuba diving can take place in a warm pool or even in a lake or the sea.

Getting Certified as a Scuba Diver

Open Water Diver Course

The first step to becoming a certified scuba diver is the so-called Open Water Diver course or OWD in short. In this beginner course, you will learn all the theory, skills, and regulations necessary to go diving together with a dive buddy.

You will get to know the equipment we need to breathe and move effortlessly underwater and we discuss how to dive safely without the risk of hurting yourself, others, and the environment.

Diving watching squids underwater

The physics of diving and health aspects are important topics, as well. The course includes four dives in open water in which you can apply what you have learned right away. 

What do you do during an Open Water Diver course?

An Open Water Diver course in Munich or at another one of our dive centers includes theory lessons, one or two pool sessions, and a full weekend of diving in a nearby lake.

After the theory lessons and the exam (which is super easy!), the practical course starts with exercises in shallow water. This usually means in a pool.

Here you learn to use the equipment underwater and practice the basic skills every diver must possess. The open water dives usually take place on the weekend in a lake where you can practice what you’ve learned.

You will do a minimum of four dives in open water, the first ones at a depth of about 10 meters / 30ft. and the last ones at up to 18 meters / 60 ft. Don’t worry, an experienced diving instructor is always on your side.

Scuba divers descending in pool

Nothing can happen to you even if this sounds deep at first. Later you will definitely want to dive even deeper!

After you have passed all the exercises, the exam, and the dives you may call yourself Open Water Diver and you can be proud of your diving certification!

The CMAS* (or CMAS 1*, read as “C-M-A-S one star“) is an equivalent dive certification to the OWD. If you want to know the difference between the two, check out our comparison post.

Most people who are new to diving have a hard time deciding between the two.

Just know, that both of them are great options and you will learn to dive with either one.

Improve your diving skills

Go Scuba Diving!

Now you are ready to go diving with those whale sharks and manta rays! With your new diving certification, you can go diving anywhere in the world together with a dive buddy.

So let’s go! The more you dive, the better you become.

Scuba diver filming turtle underwater

How about joining on one of the Social Diving scuba trips now? Besides longer diving trips, we go on diving excursions and weekend trips with our Social Diving Club.

During the week we often drive to a nearby lake for a spontaneous after-work dive.

Before you go on any dive trips, however, make sure you get dive insurance though.

With advanced diving courses, you can explore new areas of scuba diving.

Why Get Scuba Certified?

Getting a scuba diving certification is a great idea!

If you want to explore the underwater world and see fish, turtles, sharks, or even whales up close, then scuba diving is the sport for you. The most important reasons to get scuba certified are:

  • Diving is a lot of fun
  • It burns a ton of calories!
  • You can feel like an astronaut underwater!
  • 70% of our planet is covered by water. It’s time to explore them!

As you are checking out our scuba diving for beginners tips, you probably know this already.

Since we always dive in a buddy team you are never alone. If you join a local or global dive club like our Social Diving Club, you will meet many new people who love diving, and traveling and those often turn into friends.

Whale shark at surface
How about seeing a whale shark while diving?

For those of you who like to stay fit, diving is a great way to burn tons of calories, too. One dive uses as much energy on average as one hour of jogging in the park.

If that isn’t a good point for going diving. Speaking about exercises and moving around, scuba diving is the only other place besides space where you can feel basically weightless!

If you ever wanted to float around like an astronaut on the ISS, you absolutely must try out scuba diving!

Last but not least, you get to explore places that many others will never see. From shallow reefs to deep underwater caves, from exotic islands in Indonesia to frozen lakes in Europe, diving brings you to places you have never been to before.

Those new to diving, and even experienced scuba divers, are often surprised to find there is a dive center just about anywhere on earth.

If you want to get some inspiration on the incredible destinations that you can visit as a diver, check out 100 Dives of a Lifetime book by National Geographic.

How many certified scuba divers are there?

There are between 6 to 15 million certified scuba divers in the world and the number is constantly growing. It is estimated that over 2 million people receive their Open Water Diver certification every year, and around 35% of them are women. The PADI training agency alone has issued over 27 million diving certifications worldwide since its inception in 1967.

While scuba diving is a very popular sport and many places in the world live solely on dive tourism, it is hard to find reliable statistics on the total number of scuba divers in the world.

At the same time, being certified does not mean being active and vice versa.

Large group of divers at shore
There are literally millions of divers around the world.

As such, DEMA estimates 6 million active divers in the world, while PADI believes the number to be closer to 15. In 2020, the estimated total number of active divers in the US was 2.7 million.

As scuba diving certifications never expire it is hard to say how many people hold certifications but don’t use them.


Whether you join by yourself, as a couple, or with a group of friends….you are always welcome! We help you to find a dive buddy and if there really isn’t anyone available, we just jump in the water with you ourselves!

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This Was Just The Beginning!

Congratulations! You have made the first steps into the world of scuba diving and all it took was one course and a few dives! Basically, this is it. You can go diving anywhere in the world for the rest of your life with just the Open Water Diver certificate.

However, you will probably want to see other things underwater, dive deeper, longer and maybe get into some of the more advanced aspects of diving. The following section will explain to you how to broaden your knowledge further.

How to Become a better scuba diver?

Once you are scuba certified it is important to keep diving and practicing as much as you can. These are the steps to becoming a better scuba diver:

  • Take the Advanced Open Water Diver which allows you to dive down to 30 meters depth
  • Find a dive buddy you can trust
  • Go scuba diving as much as possible
  • Perfect your buoyancy
  • Use the right scuba fin kicks
  • Travel to new exciting places to dive even more
  • Take more specialty courses to explore new areas of scuba diving
Scuba diver hovering on back
With practice, you will become a masterful scuba diver.

The best way to continue your career as a diver is by taking the Advanced Open Water Diver course. This course introduces you to new aspects of diving and you will become a better diver.

Moreover, it allows you to dive down to 30 meters / 100ft depth.

What do you do in an AOWD course?

The Advanced Open Water Diver course comprises five dives, each of which covers a different topic. You learn to go diving with and without instruments and how to lead a buddy team safely underwater.

Most people book this course because they want to dive deeper. That’s why a deep dive is always part of the AOWD.

After successfully passing the course you will have learned a lot and you’re also certified for dives to up to 30 meters / 100ft. depth.

Doesn’t that sound like fun?!

We advise you to do about 20 dives in between the OWD and AOWD courses but of course, that is entirely up to you!

Lone scuba diver beside reef

Nitrox, Dry Suit, Wreck Diving, Deep Diver

Specialty Diving Courses

Once you are an advanced diver, it is time to explore other areas of scuba diving that interest you most. If you are not sure yet what will interest you, don’t worry.

As you are reading this “new to diving” guide, you most likely are not yet a certified scuba diver.

Once you have done a few dives, and received your Open Water Diver certification and potentially the Advanced Open Water Diver one, too, you will have a better idea.

Most scuba divers do a Nitrox course right after their beginner dive course, as it allows you to use a special breathing gas called Nitrox (Nitrogen + Oxygen) which allows you to go diving for longer.

The Deep Diver specialty course will show you how to dive down to 40 meters safely and during a Wreck Diver course, you explore wrecks safely inside and out.

Taucher filmt Wrack unter Wasser
Wreck diving is a lot of fun!

There are many different diving specialty courses out there and some are only offered at certain places in the world. For example, a drysuit course is something reserved for cold waters while shark observation is, of course, limited to those locations where sharks are abundant.


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About the author

Hey! I'm Julius, professional scuba instructor, diver, outdoor lover, entrepreneur and CEO and founder of Social Diving. I write about scuba diving (including tech, cave, sidemount, and freediving), travel, and love what I do. If you have any questions, send me a message. :-)

©2024 Social Diving. All rights reserved. The content presented here is the exclusive property of Social Diving and may not be copied or distributed, in whole or in part, without the express permission of Social Diving.

Social Diving is your #1 online source for scuba diving, scuba travel, water sports, learning, and having fun in and under water. We have scuba online articles, review plenty of (scuba) gear, and regularly post travel guides around the world.


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