Scuba Certification Cost

Welcome to what is, usually, the question we are asked the most. What does a Scuba Certification Cost? Have no fear, we are here to break things down in this comprehensive guide to provide you some REAL costs on each aspect of getting certified AND going out on dives. So let’s take a deep dive (snicker) into the cost breakdown of everything!

First & foremost, there are a few different costs associated with becoming a certified scuba diver. Here are the main ones you will run into:

  • Personal Scuba Gear (masks, fins, snorkel)
  • Certification cost (e-learning, in-water training, certification cards)
  • Renting Scuba Gear
  • Buying Scuba Gear
  • Maintenance
  • Fees to go diving (Charters, Quarries, etc)
  • Insurance

Personal Scuba Gear

In most dive shops (including ours), you are required to buy your personal gear when working towards your initial scuba certification. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. It consists of buying your own Mask, Fins, Snorkel (and sometimes dive boots). These items need to be fitted to you so buying online generally isn’t a good idea UNLESS you’ve already tried one on and know it fits. Even then, your LDS (local dive shop) is there to support your diving adventures (rentals, repairs, tank fills, etc), so unless they are ridiculously overpriced, supporting them is a good idea. The LDS should go through a fitting session with you to insure your mask & fins are both a proper fit (diving with a mask that constantly floods is no fun).

Note, when purchasing personal gear, please insure it is intended for Scuba Diving! Items made for snorkeling will not hold up when diving and, in rare cases, can even be dangerous.

  • Mask – Around around $90 – $300. Depends on the type, materials it’s made from and any prescription lens options.
  • Fins – Around $60 – $300. Full foot fins are the least expensive (also least powerful) and split fins are the most costly.
  • Snorkels – Around $40 – $85. If you are planning on lots of ocean diving, the more expensive snorkels have very useful features.
  • Boots – $60 – $125. Not all fins need boots (like full foot fins). However if you plan on walking over rocks, coral, we recommend 5mm boots with thick soles.

Certification Costs

Your scuba certification costs are broken up into 3 sections; your educational material, your in-water training & your certification fees from the certifying agency (not the dive shop). There are lots of factors that go into the fees but (usually) these fees pay for the pools, the rental gear, the tanks, the instructor, the learning material & the certifications themselves.

  • Educational Materials – Dive shops pay lower fees for their learning materials than a student gets from an agency because of volume and bulk purchasing. So if you want to get certified, I’d definitely recommend going to a dive shop directly as you’ll pay less overall then if you buy your educational materials directly from the agency.
  • In-water training – Interestingly enough the challenge with in-water training is finding appropriate pools. Even when you find one, their availability and fees can widely vary. Your Open Water certification requires dives in both shallow and deep pools (or pool like conditions). Most shops have a list of pool resources they get throughout the year but the costs can add up quickly.
  • The certification fees – these fees are generally on the lower end. It pays for the administrative work and hard costs (if any) of the actual certification. This will have your photo, your certification # and certification level. This is much like a drivers license and you’ll need it whenever you go diving. Shops generally keep it on record so that saves one step.

 When you add all of this together, you end up anywhere from $500 – $900 (or more) for your certification costs. A big factor is the instructor fees as while learning to dive is pretty easy, it’s not exactly a quick process. You can expect to spend anywhere from 16-20 hours with the instructor. Most instructors love diving but they also love getting paid. Click here to learn about our open water scuba certification and cost.

Renting Scuba Gear

So you’ve got your certification and you’re ready to go diving! Most locations have rental scuba gear available. The common rental items are BCD (Buoyancy control device), Regulators (what you breathe from), Tank(s), Wetsuit & Weights. We highly recommend once you are certified to rent a few different types of gear to see what you like best. There is no one size fits all so checking out the features, the characteristics and style are all important. If you are only diving a couple times a year renting your gear tends to be more cost effective then buying your gear. A typical setup with BCD, Regulators, 2 tanks, wetsuit and weights is anywhere from $75 – $150 (depending on the market and gear rented).

Buying Scuba Gear

If you dive 5 or more times or more a year, we recommend you look at buying at least some of your own gear. It will save you money in the long run and you’ll honestly get better equipment, be more familiar with it’s operation, achieve a much better fit and, if you so desire, you can paint it with pink polka dots (otherwise known as personalizing it). Scuba gear is NOT inexpensive but it’s also not nearly as bad as most people think. Remember, your scuba gear is life support gear, so when you are looking at the costs, keep in mind this gear enables you to visit a world that is hostile to us otherwise. Here are some price ranges for the major gear purchases you will need:

  • BCD – $400 – $2000. People spend an average of $600 – $900.
  • Regulators – $500 – $1800. People spend an average of $1000 but a lot has to do with your local diving conditions.
  • Wetsuit – $80 – $900. A tropical “shorty” is far less expensive than a 9mm monster meant for diving in Antarctica.
  • Tanks – $250 – $600 – This is generally the last purchase people make but a single tank will easily last 20+ years.
  • Weights – $2 – $6 a pound depending if you get soft or hard weights (bags or bricks)

Gear Maintenance

Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of your very own scuba gear! Scuba gear is built to be robust and, in the unlikely event of failure, the engineers design it to fail as safe as possible. However, it’s very important to keep your gear regularly maintained so it operates properly and safely! Gear maintenance is performed on a time schedule, not usage, so keep that in mind when buying items. The below costs are performing scheduled maintenance and inspection and DO NOT reflect the costs of additional repairs that may be needed.

  • BCD – Service every year: $15 – $30
  • Regulators – Service every year OR 100 dives: $35 – $50 per stage PLUS parts kits (another $10 – $25 per stage). These parts are mandatory replacements.
  • Tanks – VIP (visual inspection) every year: $10 – $20 | every 5 years (hydrostatic testing).: $50 – $90

Diving Fees

Diving fees are one of the biggest variances because it’s all about where you want to go. If you hop into your friends lake, it’s free. If you want to go waaaaaaay out to a pristine site that requires a 20 hour boat ride, it’ll probably be over $1000. With that being said, there are some safe assumptions to better understand the “general” costs of everything.

  • Local quarry/lake inland diving – $10 – $30 a day.
  • Inland charters (short boat rides) – $75 – $185 (2-3 tanks)
  • Ocean charters (long boat rides) – $125 – $250 (2 – 3 tanks)
  • Week Long Dive trips (leaving your country and going to another) – $1000 – $4000+ (per person)

Dive Insurance

Ironically, dive insurance is one of the more reasonable costs you have as a scuba diver. There are many agencies that provide insurance for divers but DAN (Divers Alert Network) is the most popular & well known. DAN is a non-profit organization (based in our very own Durham, NC) that provides insurance specifically for divers among other things. Their policies cover the specific medical treatments you would need as a diver and even covers special flights you should an accident occur. They have medics & doctors on staff to answer medical questions for you, work with Duke University on hyperbaric science and are all around an amazing resource to have in our sport. They support divers & instructors worldwide so no matter WHERE you are, DAN can help with questions or medical emergencies.

  • Free to open water students during training (must be registered by your instructor)
  • $80 – $200 a year, dependent on the level you receive.