Taking the plunge and getting certified for many people is scary not only because it is a new experience but also because of the cost, So what does it cost to get certified? This is one of the greatest questions in the diving industry, and most commonly asked in any dive shop. No matter which agency you get certified through Padi, SSI, Naui, to name a few, all of them are providing the same fundamental training and skills. The differences will be in the format that these skills and how the information is taught. Since it is safe to say that all open water certifications no matter the agency are equivalent lets break down the what the general expected cost of an Open Water certification would be.
There are many ways to break down these cost and different shops and different agencies will vary in their prices but this is a guide to provide a general idea of how much it should cost to get scuba certified. These cost will be broken down into training (Classroom, Pool, and Open Water dives), Materials, Rental, and Personal gear. Now with all of these they will vary from shop to shop for training, rentals and personal equipment and agency to agency for materials, so i will be providing a general estimate for each of these because it may differ at your local dive shop.
Training is the most important part of the certification and will be what truly molds the experience of getting certified. It is the personal touch that the instructor provides that will shape your experience and path as a diver. The ability to provide clear instruction and knowledge for the students will leave a huge impact on new divers. This is where the true value of shopping around for your certification will matter. Finding a shop and instructor that are devoted to providing you the student with the best experience possible. As for the price this is the portion of the cost that the instructors themselves are paid from. Some shops will split the cost of classroom/ pool and open water dives, and others will provide an all in pricing. For the aspect of training expect anywhere from $200 to $350 to cover the cost of training (classroom/pool/open water dives).
Materials are completely determined by the certification agency and can vary depending on what format of program you are taking, accelerated programs will be more costly and allow students to complete a majority of classroom portion of the program at home. The three largest and most recognizable agencies Padi, SSI, and Naui materials will range from $75-$189. With these materials they are at this point in time offered as printed books to study or online digital material, SSI provides only digital material, while Padi and Naui offer printed material or digital e-learning.
Rentals are something that are absolutely necessary for open water dives unless the new diver has decided to purchase their own BCD, regulator, tanks, weights, and wetsuit. These items to purchases would quickly reach a couple thousand dollars, most new divers will rent these items for their certification, once again rentals will depend on the shop and what kind of gear is needed for the dive, wetsuits will depend on the temperature of the water, the other items will be necessary regardless. Normal expected rental cost for this equipment should be expected around $60-$150. Some shops may provide rental packages that include other gear like mask snorkel, fins that may affect this price.
Most dive shops will request or require new students to purchase their own personal gear, Mask, Snorkel, Booties, Fins, and Gloves. This is because these items are a personal fit gear that will drastically affect your diving experience if they do not fit properly. Once again these items will vary drastically in price and some shops will offer student discounts to help promote the purchase. In general expect at minimum $150 for all of your personal gear and price can go up to as high as $500. Keep in mind this is equipment necessary for scuba, made to a very high quality and made to last when taken care of properly.
In the end the price is hard to give an exact number, and when you ask a dive shop employee that is why they will hesitate to answer because there are many factors that can affect the total cost. The lowest to expect when getting certified not including personal equipment would be somewhere around $400 and the highest could be somewhere around $700 with a majority of them somewhere in between. With this being said average price all in to get certified will be somewhere in the range of $600. Personal equipment is where the larges variance in price will be in terms of personal choice, the Training, rental, and materials will be pre determined by the shop. The most important thing to consider will be what will work best for you, dive shops and dive professionals will provide advice for what the best route to take is for the goals you wish to meet.