With their natural curiosity and affinity to learn new skills, children can make some of the best scuba divers. 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
Bubblemaker & 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 Seal Team program first.
- The 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).
- The PADI 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.
PADI’s Junior Open Water Diver Course
The 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.
To ensure that young divers don’t exceed their limits, the Junior Open Water certification comes with restrictions. Divers aged 10 and 11 years old 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.
Jr. Advanced Open Water, Jr. Rescue & Jr. PADI Specialty Courses
After receiving a Junior Open Water certification, divers aged twelve years and older may continue to gain experience and explore deeper depths by enrolling in a Jr. Adventure Diver, Jr. Advanced Open Water, Jr. Rescue Diver or one of many PADI specialty courses.
Below is a complete list of certification courses and experiences young divers can take part in. Please note: certain programs and courses are not available in all areas.
No minimum age
Age 6 or older
Age 8 or older
Age 10 or older
- Jr. Adventure Diver
- Altitude Diver
- Boat Diver
- Discover Scuba Diving
- Dive Against Debris®
- Digital Underwater Photographer
- Dry Suit Diver
- Equipment Specialist
- Fish Identification
- Jr. Open Water Diver
- PADI Mermaid Course
- Peak Performance Buoyancy
- Underwater Naturalist
- Underwater Navigator
Age 12 or older
- Jr. Advanced Open Water
- Delayed Surface Marker Buoy
- DPV Diver
- Drift Diver
- Enriched Air (Nitrox)
- Discover Freediving
- Basic Freediver
- Full Face Mask
- Night Diver
- Jr. Rescue Diver
- Search & Recovery
- Shark Conservation Diver
Divers 12 years and older can become Jr. 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 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 order process to receive a card to get a card without the word Junior on it. Of course, turning 15 is an excellent time to enroll in a ReActive session or complete a continuing education course, both of which will result in a new certification card without the “Junior” prefix.
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.