Everyone has heard of, or have seen advertisements for, the 100.00 SCUBA Class. It’s a sign of the times these days where everyone is looking for a deal on EVERYTHING. But is shopping for the least expensive SCUBA class really worth it?
Here are some things to consider when shopping for a SCUBA class:
1. Is it a quality SCUBA facility with experienced instructors?
Most SCUBA shops are affiliated with one of the major dive organizations and usually their staff has the same affiliation. Instructors sometimes move around a lot, but quality shops know how to keep their instructors happy and around. Check the facility’s affiliation and how long their instructors have been teaching. Long-time instructors can be great or they can also be “burned out”. Fresh instructors can be energetic and fun, but lack experience with different ages of students.
2. What is the training schedule?
Most SCUBA facilities now offer online training which replaces the previous training which was done in a classroom. You may not be the type of person who likes studying online. You may want the live interaction between instructor and student. In either case, your training usually consists of classroom/online training, and in-water training consisting of confined water (pool) and open water (ocean). The length of your training varies from shop to shop, but typically all classroom or online training must be completed BEFORE in-water training starts, so this is a factor on length of training.
3. What (if any) are the additional costs not included in the price of the class?
In the case of the 100.00 SCUBA class, there are going to be additional costs. No shop or private instructor can make a living on 100.00 SCUBA classes. So when you’re looking at a class, ask about ALL costs up front. Look at things like books/online fees, pool fees, dive boat fees, required equipment rentals/purchases, certification card fees, etc. These can add up real quick and that 100.00 SCUBA Class deal isn’t so much a deal anymore.
4. Is my life worth being cheap over?
Basically if you buy a 100.00 SCUBA class, you’re basically saying your life is worth $100. Remember, SCUBA diving done badly is dangerous. I’d think for quality SCUBA education and training you’d want to spend some money to make sure you are trained properly to handle the dangers (and the fun) of the sport. Would you buy a $20 parachute to go skydiving?
5. Dive shop instructor vs. Private instructor?
There are benefits and downsides to both. The dive shop instructor may have access to a variety of rental dive gear and dive boats, but, as mentioned above, may be “fresh” out of instructor school and not necessarily knowledgeable about the dive sites in the area. Dive shop class schedules can tend to be a little inflexible too. This can be difficult for the student who works during the day or only has weekends available for training.
Private instructors, while not having access to a dive shop’s inventory, often have their own supply of rental gear and personal connections with dive boats in the area. They are more likely to have first-hand knowledge about local dive sites as well. Private instructors are also more flexible in their training schedules and can work around a student’s schedule or make changes when bad weather affects the training day.
The ultimate decision regarding a SCUBA class purchase lies with the student. The old saying “You get what you pay for” applies here quite well. Do your research and don’t make your choice solely on price alone. Your life is valuable, your training should be too!