Certified for Life: Good or Bad Idea?


The joys of diving can change your whole life forever, but diving can also end your life in a few minutes if you get into an unexpected, perilous situation.

Is one course — taken one time — sufficient to ensure we and the divers we dive with are prepared for unexpected, potentially fatal situations? Would you feel comfortable diving with a dive buddy who skills were a bit (or a lot) rusty?

For many of us who dive frequently in a variety of environments, one course may be all we need to get started. We become proficient divers as we gain experience. However, some of us get certified but don’t have opportunities to improve our skills with frequent diving.

Pros for Continuing Dive Training and Certification

It is difficult to argue the fact that skills fade through lack of use. If you become unemployed and can’t find another job within six months, many employers consider your skills degraded.

Yet if you do not dive after certification for six months, a year, or five years, no one will tell you that your diving skills have degraded. The mandatory re-certification camp argues that over time, without additional training:

  • Safety knowledge fades, increasing risk of harm to you and your dive buddies.
  • Your lack of experience may lower your confidence and lead to poor decisions.
  • You’re not prepared for diving in-less-than ideal situations such as low visibility, strong currents or deep depths.
  • Equipment evolves and you are unaware of proper use.

Financial Incentive:

In addition to safety, there is a financial incentive to require additional training — increasing diver knowledge and confidence means they are more likely to remain life-long divers, which is a financial boost to the dive industry.

Refresher Courses

Refresher and advanced certification courses are readily available for those who are interested. The problem is that they are optional.

Divers would learn new technologies and re-learn vital safety skills in a mandatory refresher or advanced course.

Cons for Continuing Dive Training and Certification

The other camp wants to make it easy for divers to stay certified once they gain this proficiency. They argue that responsible self-certification has always served the industry well and will continue to do so. The against-mandatory training groups within the industry believe that:

  • Divers can decide if they are competent.
  • Excessive requirements will discourage new divers.
  • Refresher courses cost money that some divers will not spend.
  • It is impossible to set the right refresher time frame for all divers.
  • Re-certification is sensible but should be optional.

A Simple Compromise?

No one wants the “scuba police” implementing a bunch of cumbersome, expensive regulations. Active divers should not be burdened with extra requirements.

The divers who are more likely to become liabilities to themselves and others are the divers who “dropped out” of the sport. Not only is this bad from a safety standpoint, it’s a financial hit to the dive industry.

A simple solution might be:

  • Require that new divers do a certain number of dives within a time frame, for example, a minimum of four dives within two years to retain their certification. Once a diver logs, say 25 dives, then maybe relax the minimum to four dives every three years. This would make it easy for active, experienced divers to remain certified.
  • If a diver falls short of the minimums, then a one session refresher class could be required – but could be offered FREE. Why free? This removes any financial barrier, gets the diver back into a dive shop or at a dive resort spending money on gear and travel.

Why not increase your skills, learn a few new tips, and boost your confidence by taking another course? After all, the more you know, the more relaxed you’ll feel and you’ll enjoy diving even more!

Live in the Dallas area? Swing by or call us (972) 820-7667) at Scuba Toys – we offer year-round courses!

Do you think refresher courses should be required for divers who have been inactive? Let us know in the comments section below!


Article Name
Certified for Life: Good or Bad Idea?
All it takes is one course to become certified to scuba dive for life. Is this sufficient, even for divers who haven't dived in years or haven't logged more than a few dives? We explore the pros and cons.

5 responses to “Certified for Life: Good or Bad Idea?”

  1. Kev Nelson says:

    I think the compromise you outlined is reasonable – I’ve logged a lot of dives but don’t get to dive nearly as often as I used to, so if I could take a 1-2 hour refresher course for free the first day I’m at a dive resort, I’d do it!

  2. Pauvel Kosnoski says:

    How do you stop divers from “padding” their dive log to get around the minimum # of dives? I don’t think mandatory refresher courses would work.

  3. Bethany says:

    I think it’s a good idea to require infrequent divers to periodically take refresher courses. While I despise overregulation of any kind, having a rusty diver could put that diver and others in jeopardy.

  4. Wayne W. says:

    I think refresher courses make sense. you don’t receive many certifications that don’t require some type of follow up or refresher course.

  5. A.J. says:

    I think it should be up to the diver to decide. If they feel comfortable, they shouldn’t have to take additional courses.

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