When you are looking for training classes to learn all about scuba diving you should look for a fully certified course delivered by an instructor who has been recommended to you by a former student if possible.
All the components of training listed above should be included as this gives the broadest variety of experience necessary to make your first personal dive (with a buddy) enjoyable.
SCUBA is a term that stands for “Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.” SCUBA gear is really to be considered life support equipment, enabling humans to breathe in an environment not intended for humans under natural conditions.
Since this is the case, the equipment and it’s use is very critical to your survival and therefore taking the right amount of time to get trained on all aspects of its use, maintenance and safety should be of primary importance to a new diver. An experienced swimmer can easily complete a complete basic open water SCUBA class in a few days.
If you go to a resort, there should be classes available under the auspices of the resort management. Introductory programs delivered by the resorts normally allow dive operators in the area to experience tropical areas, and allow the beginner students to actually have a shallow dive experience with an instructor closely supervising the dive. These introductory courses however do not teach what is needed for an independent dive.
A certification is sometimes required to have dive equipment rented to you or a group. You might be able to take a certified course before your trip to a resort or vacation destination close to a dive site.
The organizations that offer certifications are: PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors), as well as the YMCA and a few other groups. Courses can also be offered through SCUBA shops, resorts, dive operators, YMCAs, colleges, and community centers.
The classroom training covers the book learning part, teaching all about the physics of diving. The skills needed to dive will be presented as well as the functional use of all the gear will be explained. You will learn how to calculate how long you can be under water at varying depths, how diving illnesses occur, including information on the bends and nitrogen narcosis will be explained, first aid for divers and all concepts learned will be practiced in a pool and open water.
Pool instruction is next and provides a safe, controlled place to experience all there is to scuba diving. All aspects are practiced, from assembling gear to descending underwater, breathing properly through a regulator, all the way to sharing air with a partner to simulate emergencies. Pool training isn’t completed until students are absolutely comfortable with the gear and their abilities.
Open water training takes that to the next level, including doing a pre-dive checklist, controlling buoyancy, and descending with a dive instructor supervising the dive. How to use a compass and other diving instruments.
Graduation from a scuba diving class will get you certification and a “C-card” that allows you to dive without a dive master, but diving with a dive buddy is still highly recommended.
There are other specialty classes to take as your interest in scuba diving grows.