With their natural curiosity and affinity to learn new skills, children can make some of the best scuba divers. Introducing kids to scuba diving is something worth looking forward to, especially for parents who love diving. If you’re that kind of parent, chances are you’re just looking for the right opportunity to share your passion for the underwater world with your kid(s). This article includes a list of all the scuba diving courses kids can take and the minimum age for scuba lessons.
So what are you waiting for? Read on and find out more about getting your little ones underwater and unlocking a lifetime of family scuba diving adventures!
When To Start Scuba Diving Lessons for Kids
PADI Bubblemaker™ & PADI Seal Team Programs
A good way to determine if your child is ready for scuba lessons is to enroll them in a PADI Bubblemaker or PADI Seal Team program.
- The PADI Bubblemaker program gives kids that are 8 years and older the chance to try on scuba gear and swim around in a pool or confined water. The max depth is two meters (six feet). There is no prior experience needed, but kids must be comfortable in the water.
- The PADI Seal Team and Master Seal Team program is a more extensive pool program for kids aged 8 years and above that combines basic scuba diving skills with fun activities, such as taking underwater photos, practicing buoyancy, and learning about environmental awareness. No prior experience with scuba diving is necessary, but kids should be comfortable in the water and parental approval is required.
PADI’s Junior Open Water Diver Course
The PADI Junior Open Water Diver course is similar to the adult certification program but with smaller teacher-to-student ratios and shallower depth limits. To enroll, kids must be age 10-15 years old and able to swim. PADI Junior Open Water Divers automatically become Open Water Divers at the age of 15.
To ensure that young divers don’t exceed their limits, the PADI Junior Open Water certification comes with restrictions. Divers aged 10 and 11 must dive with a PADI Professional or a certified parent or guardian, and dives cannot exceed 12 meters (40 feet). Divers aged 12 years to 14 years old must dive with a certified adult and dives cannot exceed 18 meters (60 feet) in depth.
PADI Junior Advanced Open Water, PADI Junior Rescue & PADI Junior Specialty Courses
After receiving a PADI Junior Open Water certification, divers aged 12 years and older may continue to gain experience and explore deeper depths by enrolling in more advanced courses. These courses include PADI Junior Adventure Diver, PADI Junior Advanced Open Water, PADI Junior Rescue Diver and PADI Junior Specialty courses.
Below is a complete list of certification courses and experiences young divers can take part in. Unfortunately, certain programs and courses are not available in all areas. We recommend contacting your local PADI dive shop to see which courses are available. If you need help finding one near you, please use our PADI dive shop locator.
List of PADI Programs and PADI Courses By Age
No minimum age:
- Emergency First Response® – Primary and Secondary Care
- PADI AWARE Specialty
6+ years old:
- Discover Mermaid™ Experience
- PADI Basic Mermaid™ Course
8+ years old:
- PADI Seal Team
- Master Seal Team
10+ years old:
- Junior Adventure Diver
- Altitude Diver
- Boat Diver
- Discover Scuba® Diving
- Dive Against Debris
- Digital Underwater Photographer
- Dry Suit Diver
- Equipment Specialist
- Fish Identification
- Junior Open Water Diver
- PADI Mermaid™ Course
- Peak Performance Buoyancy
- Underwater Naturalist
- Underwater Navigator
12+ years old:
- Junior Advanced Open Water
- Delayed Surface Marker Buoy
- Diver Propulsion-Vehicle Diver
- Drift Diver
- Enriched Air (Nitrox) Diver
- PADI Basic Freediver
- PADI Freediver
- Full Face Mask
- Night Diver
- Junior Rescue Diver
- Search & Recovery
- AWARE Shark Conservation Diver
Divers 12 years and older can become PADI Junior Master Scuba Divers, the highest rating a recreational diver under the age of 15 can achieve.
Junior Diver Certification “Upgrades”
After the age of 15, depth and buddy restrictions default to those of a regular PADI Open Water Diver. Divers who were initially certified as a Junior Open Water Diver and wish to receive a new card that simply says “Open Water Diver” can order a replacement from their PADI Dive Center or PADI’s website. The new card will automatically be printed without the word “Junior” based on the diver’s age when the card is ordered. There is no special action that needs to be taken during the ordering process to receive a card without the word “Junior” on it. Of course, turning 15 is an excellent time to enroll in a PADI ReActivate session or complete a continuing education course, both of which will result in a new certification card without the “Junior” prefix automatically.
Scuba diving is both a sport and an adventure, which gives kids a chance to explore the world directly without the use of social media filters. Beyond the “fun” side, scuba diving also has positive impacts on a child’s physical, emotional, psychological and social well-being. Not only will scuba diving introduce kids to the beautiful underwater world, but it will allow them to join the largest community for ocean change. By understanding how everything is connected in the ocean and how we interact with it as humans, children will learn to care and protect the ocean.
Scuba diving is a great way for kids to get away from the use of electronics and screen time. This activity really is one of the best ways to give kids a reason to put down their gadgets and enjoy the beauty of nature while living unfiltered.
If you are interested in diving lessons for kids, contact your local PADI Dive Shop to register for any of the programs above. If your child participates in the Boy Scouts of America or Scouts Canada, inquire about merit badge/award opportunities.
For more information about scuba diving opportunities for kids in your area, contact a PADI Dive Center or Resort.