Major SCUBA diving organizations, including PADI, SSI, BSAC, Dive Atlantis and NAUI provide quality SCUBA courses. You will find links to some of these at the end of the article.
Understanding the basic theory behind SCUBA diving is important, especially to the beginner. There is a wealth of information available for solitary study of SCUBA theory, and this represents a large part of the available course material. Usually these self study materials consist of pamphlets, books, and DVDs. After you study, your course instructor will review the course material with you, and administer a quiz. Completion of this marks preparedness for the next step.
With the ever increasing availability of the internet, another route would be to purchase online courses. This can save time and money, as you have access to both the information, and the followup quiz, but it lacks the support of face to face discussion with your instructor. It is still a viable option for many people, however.
Confined Water Training
Studying books and online materials can only take you so far. Next, you need to put your newly learned techniques and knowledge to use, and get in the water. Confined water training lessons are administered in a shallow, clear visibility environment with easy dive conditions, and under the direct supervision of a qualified dive instructor. Swimming pools or similar structures are typical environments for this kind of instruction.
There are two parts to this section of SCUBA lessons, divided between shallow and deep confined conditions. In shallow confined water lessons you will learn basic open water skills, including the use of your respirator, clearing mask and instruction in “out of air” emergency procedures. Deep confined water conditions are typically too deep to stand in, but shallow enough so you will be able to swim up to the surface comfortably. A depth of 10 feet (between 3 and 4 meters) is typical. In deep confined water lessons you will learn more interesting skills concerning buoyancy, moving and swimming underwater, and more emergency procedures.
Open Water SCUBA Lessons
The next, and last step is to put your skills to use in an open water environment. These will start in shallow areas for practicing, with depth and conditions of increasing difficulty to coincide with your increasing comfort level. Completion of these lessons, along with your final written exam will allow you to earn certification. Diving certification is generally recognized and accepted between the major dive organization.