Getting your scuba certification is an exciting step into the underwater world. Some people will take their scuba certification course at home. However, the vast majority of students will take their scuba courses during their holidays in a tropical destination. So how long does a scuba certification last? What if you don’t get the chance to dive often; will the certification ‘run out?’
How Long Does Scuba Certification Last?
Your scuba diving certification will not expire. However, dive agencies will highly recommend that you dive frequently. This is so that you won’t forget basic scuba diving skills or important safety procedures. It is a good idea to keep practicing these as your confidence level will grow and your scuba diving skills will become second nature.
Scuba Refresher Course
If you do not get the chance to dive often then you can always take a ‘refresher course.’ This is where you will review your skills with a dive professional. This is a mixture of theory and practical where you will practice scuba diving skills and emergency procedures again.
A scuba refresher course is not a full diving course and will usually only take a few hours to complete. Depending on the dive agency, there may be compulsory skills to practice. Your dive professional will also usually ask if there is anything further that you would like to ‘refresh.’ For example; practicing more buoyancy skills, feeling more comfortable with clearing your mask, reviewing hand signals, etc.
Refresh your memory on how scuba divers go up and down using buoyancy.
When do I need to take a ‘Refresher?’
The general rule is that if you have not dived for 6-12 months, then it is a good idea to take a refresher course. Dive agencies will differ in their recommendations, but there is no law or strict rule about this. It will be up to the dive center or your instructor to decide if you need to take a refresher course. This will be based on your past diving experience, any factors that may have changed your diving capabilities, and exactly how long ago you last went on a dive.
For example: If an Open Water diver has 4 dives, and has not dived for 7 months, they may need to refresh their diving skills as they do not have much experience.
However, if a Rescue diver has 50 dives but has not dived for 13 months, then they may not need to do a refresher based on their experience level and the number of dives they have.
Some signs you need a Refresher
- You can’t remember the dive hand signals
- You don’t remember how to set up and check your diving equipment
- You don’t know the Buddy Check
- You can’t remember what to do if you or your buddy run out of air
- You feel anxious or nervous about getting back into the water
Remember, you might feel comfortable in the water but ultimately it will be your instructor and the dive center to decide if you need a scuba refresher or not. This is because how you act in the water will also impact the safety of your dive leader and the rest of the dive group.
How to keep diving without diving
If you do not get the chance to dive often, that’s ok. You can continue practising diving without even getting wet!
When you were scuba certified you will have received either a hardcopy or digital copy of the dive theory. This is usually a textbook treasure trove of diving knowledge; physics, physiology, the name of different parts of the dive equipment (do you remember what an LPI is?), information about the aquatic environment, and characteristics of marine life!
Our recommendation is to regularly go through and review your scuba materials so that you keep that knowledge fresh in your mind. You can also go online and use a resource like Down to Scuba for the latest information on diving and any new scuba updates!