You’re certified, you’ve gained some experience, so now what?
You’ve completed your Open Water class and are officially certified to scuba dive. Congratulations! Hopefully since your class you have been diving at every opportunity and you’re becoming more confident and capable with your skills. If you’ve discovered you’re as happy, or happier, under the water as you are above it, you may have already begun thinking of what’s next. We’ve all been there. We’d like to help provide some guidance and/or answer some of your questions. Hopefully this will be a start.
If you enjoyed diving so far, you’re probably considering taking on the challenge of some additional training. You feel -mostly- stable in the water; you can manage your ascents and descents and you are comfortable with your gear and while it’s nice to dive with more experienced divers, you also feel safe diving with other divers of your own skill level. If you are the diver just described, then maybe it’s time to “up the ante” and consider what else you can learn!
If you took your OW course through Eight Diving, then you already have experience with diving in drysuits. As with all potential divers in the PNW, our first suggestion following or even combining with your open-water class, is the drysuit and Nitrox classes. Let’s assume you have already done both courses and look at what could be next.
When you first decided to get certified, it may have been for a zillion different reasons, such as it’s on your bucket list, you got a chance to scuba or snorkel on your last holiday and you loved it, or you have a friend that is always sharing amazing stories and photos. Do you recall if you had any specific goals? Are you hoping to dive the Great Barrier Reef or see how many cenotes you can encounter? Are you interested in underwater photography? Wreck or cave diving? Now that you have the beginning experience and knowledge of how to dive, you can start to tailor your future training to your specific interests.
If your wish was anything seriously more advanced, then you should consider the training pathway offered by Global Underwater Explorers. As an open water diver with a little experience, the “Fundamentals” program is the gateway to further world-class technical and Cave diving. After Fundamentals your pathway could take you to Tech 1 or Cave 1 and then, with even more experience, into the world of Closed-Circuit Rebreathers or Cave 2 and Tech 2. These names may not mean much to you right now, but they will eventually. Another interesting course is “Rec 2” offered within the GUE framework. You will need to have passed Fundamentals first, but you will likely enjoy the emphasis on navigation and Rescue and even an introduction to diving mixed gas. Many recreational divers also take the GUE Fundamentals course to simply become better divers.
We are very lucky at Eight Diving to have our mainstream recreational instructors as graduates of GUE classes also. They will bring much of the “finesse” of GUE training into their open water course so you will already be head and shoulders above the majority of the diving world. GUE also offers training with Diver Propulsion Vehicles (DPV’s) affectionately referred to as “scooters” and this is about as much fun as you can have in the ocean!
If you don’t see yourself doing any of the things above and your diving goals consist of floating weightless over a tropical reef or simply enjoying your diving at some of our recreational dive sites in the Pacific Northwest, then you may be a perfect candidate for further NAUI training.
The next class past your open water class is NAUI’s “Advanced Scuba diver”. This will teach you important considerations for diving deeper within the recreational range and introduce you to more diving specialties and subjects of particular interest. You will learn things like navigation, night diving and deep diving while under the supervision of an instructor. This is a great way to explore your options in case you “don’t know what you don’t know”. You may also be interested in NAUI Rescue diver which will help you learn how to manage risks and handle limited in-water problems and emergencies. To fulfill the requirements for Rescue diver you will also need your CPR and First Aid certifications.
If you are interested in more supervisory roles in diving and wish to help others explore the same journey you have made to this point, then you may choose training to become a NAUI Divemaster. Here you will learn to assist dive instructors with training new divers or lead newer divers on dives. A Divemaster is the first certification that belongs in the “diving professional” category and if you chose to move further, you can follow up with actual NAUI dive instructor training. These courses require experience requirements and are not just natural progressions of your training. The best thing to do would be to speak to your dive instructor mentor and find out if this pathway is for you.
There is so much more to explore than we can write in one article. Your best course of action will always be to gain experience and ask questions from more experienced divers. Come to Eight Diving and chat with the staff. Ask more questions and read articles and watch movies. Attend Eight diving social events and ask more questions. There is surely something in the diving world that you can learn about!