Can kids get scuba certified?
If you would like your children to learn to scuba dive at 8 years old, it’s possible with a couple of the diving organisations. But always beware that the ultimate decision of whether your 8 year old scuba dives is yours as a parent. You may prefer your younger children to snorkel until they reach the age of 10 or 12.
Kids getting scuba certified or in this case for 8 year old children to learn to scuba dive is partly down to the diving organisation. But is mostly down to the parent. The dive agencies that allow 8 year old children to learn scuba limit their depth until they are older. But the scuba diving skills these young children learn counts towards their full diver certification. This includes towards their Open Water Diver course with PADI.
Who is the youngest scuba diver?
The youngest scuba diver is Tamanna Balachandran who at the time was aged just 10. She is the world's youngest scuba diver and it took her just two days to learn to dive.
It was on the day she turned 10 that she got to dive in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. What a cool place for anyone to dive, let alone a young girl of 10 years old!
Can an 8 year old scuba dive?
To the question "can an 8 year old scuba dive?", the answer is yes with a 'but'. This 'but' depends on the diving organisation you choose. But it also depends if your child wants to scuba dive in the sea or open waters.
Looking at the main scuba diving organisations, like PADI, BSAC, NAUI and SSI, they have varying rules around young scuba divers.
Let's take a look at each of these diving organisations, one at a time.
What is the minimum age to get PADI certified?
To take diving lessons from a PADI instructor, you need to be at least 10 years of age.
The most basic course to learn with PADI is an Open Water Diver certification. With the younger students that complete this course that are under 15 years of age. they become Junior Open Water Divers.
What is a PADI Junior Open Water Diver?
The PADI Junior Open Water Diver Course is an entry level diver certification.This course is recognised world-wide and is for children aged between 10 and 11 years. Junior Open Water Divers may only dive with a PADI Professional, a certified parent or certified guardian to a maximum depth of 12 metres (40 feet).
PADI Seals Team
However, PADI have a PADI Seals Team, which is for even younger scuba divers. These young students can enjoy fun packed pool learning by completing AquaMissions.
In order to join the PADI Seal Team, a child must be 8 years of age or older. No prior experience with scuba diving is necessary. But to join, your child should be comfortable in the water and be able to swim.
But also, as you'd expect your parental approval is required before your kids can join a PADI Seal Team.
What is the minimum age to get BSAC certified?
Whilst BSAC encourage the younger generation to love the marine environment, they don't offer any scuba diving activities for children aged 8 years old unfortunately.
BSAC offer an entry-level Ocean Diver course to children from the age of 12 years old and upwards. Once your child is qualified, BSAC rules state that any under 14's can scuba dive to a maximum of 20 metres (66 feet).
However, from the age of 16, young scuba divers can begin on the BSAC’s instructor training courses. With this they can start to extend their range and diving experience.
NAUI certification requirements age limit?
NAUI offer the Skin Diver or Junior Skin Diver course for children.
This course requires your child to complete two open water dives. After which, your child will have the skills needed to be a comfortable and safe skin diver.
NAUI say that this certification is for 8 year-olds and older. They also explain that it's for both accomplished swimmers and for those who have never spent time in the water. However, as a parent I would suggest you don't let your child begin any course of this nature, without them being comfortable in the water and without them being able to swim first.
Age requirements for SSI scuba diving
SSI have a Scuba Rangers Program, which is a club that offers scuba diving activities for children between the ages 8 to 12.
As you'd expect, safety is a top priority, as it should be for any level or age of scuba diving. With SSI, the Scuba Rangers programs is taught in a swimming pool by specially trained instructors.
Alternatively, the training can be done in confined water conditions in a protected area up to a maximum depth of 5 meters (16 feet) deep.
Should 8 year old children learn to scuba dive?
There is always the a good question to ask in these situations, which is just because you can, should you? Which in this case, if a child can learn to scuba dive at 8, should they?
For some children it may be appropriate for them to start diving aged 8. Whereas for other young children it may not be the right thing.
I'd put this down to experience and maturity. Different children mature at different rates when they are young. Some youngsters are very mature for their age and are quite responsible. Whereas others are not. I think many times this comes down to the experiences they have as children and how they are taught and led by their parents.
It would therefore be fair to say that not all children who would like to learn to dive are mature enough to do so and should perhaps wait until they are older and more mature.
It's also true to say that many scuba diving instructors consider teaching kids to scuba dive is an unnecessary risk. But there are no conclusive studies on the physiological effects of scuba diving on a child's developing body to say they shouldn't dive.
Whether or not children (and in this case 8 year old children) should be allowed to scuba dive is a matter of debate. But ultimately, the decision is down to the parents of the child.
But what about snorkeling for children?
What is the minimum age for snorkeling and can an 8 year old snorkel?
I know for me that because I started to snorkel from a young age, this stood me in good stead when I began to scuba dive. In fact I learned to swim in the sea in a small town on the south coast of England called Portwrinkle.
Probably the best age to start snorkeling is around 5 or 6, but under the supervision of an adult. This is a good age to begin to learn the basics of snorkeling.
If your child is old enough to feel comfortable in the pool and is able to swim, this is an ideal time to introduce snorkeling equipment.
There's nothing wrong in delaying the time when a child advances to the next stage. Which in this case is advancing to scuba diving.
Whilst I wouldn't recommend waiting as long as it took be to realise how great scuba diving was (i.e. until I was in my twenties!), it won't harm in my opinion to wait until they are at least 10 or 12.
How old do you have to be to scuba dive in Florida?
As in most countries around the world, there are no specific guidelines for how old you have to be to scuba dive in Florida.
The age restrictions are set by the scuba diving organisations, rather than the country (which in this case is the America) or the state, which in this case is Florida. But the same applies across the whole of the US. Which means the same rules apply whether you're in Hawaii or California.
However, what appears to be consistent in most countries or states in the US is that children under 16 must always be supervised by a parent or guardian.
How old do you have to be to go scuba diving in Australia?
As with how old you have to be to scuba dive in Florida, similar rules apply to Australia too. It's down to the scuba diving organisation to set the rules around age limit. But that children under 16 must always be supervised by a parent or guardian.
But similar rules would also apply if you would like your child to learn to scuba diving in Cancun, Mexico, on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, In places like the Bahamas in the Caribbean or across Canada.
However, specifically for Australia there is a physical maturity component in the required dive medical. Not all 12 and 13 year olds, especially boys, pass the physical for this reason.
What age can you learn to scuba dive UK?
In the UK it also depends on the diving organisation's rules as to the minimum age for a scuba diver.
BSAC is one of the biggest diving organisations in the UK closely followed by PADI. The rules noted above for each of these diving organisations will follow in the UK, but all under 16's must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
There's one further thought about youngsters and scuba diving in the UK. This is to be aware of the more tricky diving conditions around the coast of the UK. These conditions include cold waters, low visibility and currents plus strong tides. These tricky conditions can be more challenging for a mature diver, let alone a child of less than 16 or 8 for sure.
So as a parent looking into having your child learning to scuba dive in the UK, be aware of the more challenging sea states and conditions first.
Scuba diving age restrictions - Youngest scuba diving certification
|Diving organisation||Age restriction||Notes|
|PADI||8 years old||Note 1|
|BSAC||12 years old||Note 2|
|NAUI||8 years old||Note 3|
|SSI||8 years old||Note 4|
Note 1: BSAC entry-level Ocean Diver course is open to children from the age of 12 and once qualified, under 14s can scuba dive to a maximum of 20 metres (66 feet).
Note 3: This is the NAUI Skin Diver or Junior Skin Diver course.
Note 4: The SSI Scuba Rangers Program where children are taught by specially trained instructors in a pool, or under confined water conditions in a protected area up to a maximum depth of 5 meters (16 feet).
I hope you enjoyed this article about can an 8 year old scuba dive?
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Have fun and be safe!