May 6

How To Get Your Kid Certified

By Trevor Sanford

Trevor came to diving late after getting a job at a scuba training agency. He is a Master Scuba Diver and Tec Deep diver with an interest in Sidemount. Having dived in European Fresh water, the Mediterranean, Egypt and the Redsea he particularly loves Dahab. Next up on his to do list will be Trimix, Rebreathers and exploring more mountain lakes.

scuba instructor and kid

Many scuba-diving parents want to share their passion with their kids, and diving is also a great activity to learn together if mom and dad aren’t certified yet. Most kids love water, and are often confident and daring. I’ve seen children on try dives who were more natural in the water than some advanced adult divers.

As with many activities, learning when young can lead to a life-long interest, as well as making skills much easier to master — I learned to ski at 5 years old and am still obsessed. Keep in mind though that it’s got to be fun for the kids. So how do you go about getting your kids certified?

Scuba Diving Options for Kids
Many adult courses are suitable for older children, and most scuba-training agencies have different options for getting younger kids interested and certified, when they’re old enough. Lets take a look at the options from some of the main training agencies:


SSI’s child-specific course revolves around the Scuba Rangers program, which is aimed at ages 8 to 12 and is broken down into five levels, with colors much like marshal-arts belts.

  1. Red Ranger — Kids demonstrate their swimming skills and learn how to snorkel with a mask, a snorkel and fins. How to help other children is also emphasized.
  2. White Ranger — Potential divers are introduced to diving equipment. After learning what everything is and how it’s used, rangers go into the pool with equipment for the first time.
  3. Blue Ranger — Rangers learn new diving exercises in the pool such as how to float in the water.
  4. Silver Ranger — Children play games underwater while wearing diving equipment to increase their comfort and practice the diving techniques they’ve learned so far.
  5. Demo Ranger — Children are able to “teach” diving to parents, siblings, and friends by doing demonstrations of the skills they’ve learned.

SSI scores extra points because all Scuba Ranger instructors are specially trained and courses are on a 1 to 2 ratio. SSI instructors can only teach if affiliated with an SSI store, so there is good accountability.

For children aged 10 to14 SSI offers junior versions of the full courses. These are generally the same as the adult versions, but the certified child must dive with an appropriately certified adult, guardian or professional.


PADI's Seal Team is for children 8+ and should not be confused with the Bubble Maker, which is more of a single-day experience. Kids need to complete a 2-part program with the Seal Team. Part one involves completing what PADI calls AquaMissions 1 to 5, which teach kids the basics of diving. Buoyancy control, mask clearing and regulator recovery are all covered. Once these five missions have been completed, kids become PADI Seal Team members. Part two consists of five more specialty AquaMissions, which, though not outlined on the PADI website, can include:

  • Creature ID: Identify marine creatures and use hand signals
  • Environmental: Protecting the environment while diving
  • Inner Space: Peak Performance Buoyancy for kids
  • Navigation: Underwater navigation
  • Wreck: A simulated shipwreck dive
  • Night: Night Diving using lights
  • Safety: Diving safety and safety equipment
  • Search & Recovery: Recover lost items
  • Skin Diver: Skin dive more effectively
  • Snapshot: Underwater photography

Any kids completing 10 of the specialty AquaMissions qualify to become Master Seal Team members. PADI does not mention teaching ratios or instructor requirements; check these details with your local PADI dive center.

Kids aged 10 and up can start on PADI’s junior courses, beginning with Junior Open Water Diver. Once they’re 12 years old, kids can start on junior versions, though they must dive with an appropriately certified adult.

Little scuba diver , before diving into  sea


At the time of writing NAUI only offers junior versions of adult courses and no specific program for kids. Junior Skin Diver is a snorkeling course that is available for kids aged 8+. Starting at 10 years old, kids can take the Junior Scuba Diver course, which is much the same as SSI and PADI’s Open Water courses.


The SDI website is a bit scant on information and only with a bit of searching and Googling do you find the Future Buddies program, which is geared toward kids aged 8 to 9. The program covers topics such as:

  1. History of diving
  2. The aquatic environment
  3. Physics and physiology
  4. Equalization techniques
  5. Lung over-expansion problems
  6. Breathing air under pressure
  7. Scuba equipment

There are a number of prerequisite skills that must be successfully completed to finish the course. Again like the other agencies, kids can start on the junior versions of the full certifications when they reach 10 years old.


CMAS offers a system of three different levels for kids. Bronze is for kids 8 to 12 years old; Silver is for kids 10 to 12 years old; and Gold is for kids 12 to 14 years old. I suggest that parents interested in CMAS courses talk directly to a CMAS instructor, as their website is pretty bewildering and offers very little in the way of specifics, especially on the English version of the site.

Having listed the main offerings from scuba agencies, it’s fairly easy to see that there are a lot of similarities. You can also see that the bigger agencies have put some extra thought into making specific programs to engage younger kids. I like SSI’s clear approach to safety, with stated ratios and specifically trained instructors.  But as with all diving courses I think it’s too easy to get hung up on specific agencies — in truth it’s the instructor who makes the difference, and I advise parents to investigate and choose the one they feel most comfortable with. And don’t forget — it’s all about the kids having fun.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Latest entries
Jul 28

My Favorite Dive: Bare Island, Sydney, Australia

Bare Island, Australia

by Dr. Klaus M. Stiefel Mention Australian diving destinations and most people will first think about the Great Barrier Reef in tropical Queensland. But don’t overlook the Sydney area, which... Read More

Jul 27

Sharks and the Miracle of Virgin Birth

Leopardenhai Stegostoma fasciatum Zebra Shark

Sharks have inhabited the world’s oceans for over 400 million years, and in that time they’ve developed some amazing evolutionary characteristics. From snouts studded with complex electro-receptors to skin made... Read More

Jul 26

Learning To Coexist With Sharks

Young woman swimming with skarks i

Since Western Australia announced its shark cull at the end of last year, the question of whether humans and sharks can ever really coexist has been thrust into the spotlight.... Read More

Jul 25

Record-Breaking Marine Animals

seahorse on spunge

The world’s oceans are filled with incredible creatures, each of which has unique, amazing characteristics. Their abilities establish some of these creatures as record-breakers; here are a few of the... Read More

Jul 24

Planning Diving Vacations Made Easy: Book Now!

divebooker we invite you to join

We invite you to check out – a brand new way to plan and book your diving online! All you need to plan your diving can now be found... Read More

Jul 24

The Mindful Diver: Part III

Relaxing on the beach

In this 3-part series, we’ll delve into scuba diving’s relationship with mindfulness, and how to use the practice to become a better diver. In the previous installment of this 3-part... Read More

Jul 23

Diving the Conestoga River

Horse Farm in Lancaster PA with brook in foreground and blue sky

The hills of Lancaster, Pennsylvania hold untold treasures for divers By Terry Papavasilis Among the rolling hills and lush green countryside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania lies a secret, hidden in the... Read More

Jul 22

Please Don’t Feed The Fish: How To Overcome Seasickness

Woman getting seasick on boat

By Juanita Pienaar As a diver, you’ll generally spend more time on boats than you will exploring the underwater world. Feeding the fish, mal de mer, seasickness — call it... Read More

Jul 21

Just How Smart Is The Smart Console?

smart console

  How many times have you tried and failed to get your buddy’s attention underwater? Most of the time it’s just to point out something of interest that they missed,... Read More

Jul 20

Scuba Cartoon: Longer Dives


Ever grow a beard while underwater?  This is the 43rd of our scuba cartoon series by Jerry King. Let us know what you think and submit your own if you... Read More