7 Questions To Ask Every Dive
Shop Before Starting A Course

Doing your research before choosing a scuba dive shop is very important. Maybe you’re looking for a shop for beginner lessons, continuing education with specialty courses, or maybe somewhere to go on a dive trip. I’ve come up with 7 questions to ask a dive shop while you’re researching who to go with. Once you’ve asked these questions, if you’re feeling confident with the answers you’ve received, you’re likely ready to sign up for your next adventure!

1. May I please chat with my instructor on the phone or in person prior to the course?

There is nothing worse than having no control who you’re learning from and realizing that your instructor is not right for you. Have a conversation with them and make sure you’re on the same page. You do not want someone teaching you that doesn’t understand the way you learn. Be prepared to explain to them your preferred way of learning.

2. What experience does my instructor have?

While you’re chatting with your scuba instructor, ask them about their experience and background with scuba diving. Listen to their story and make sure you’re comfortable with the person teaching you. In diving, experience means a lot. You want someone who has dealt with difficult situations in the past and knows how to diffuse them in a professional manner. 

3. How many students are in the class?

According to scuba standards, the maximum number of students to instructor is 8. Add one assistant instructor and that number goes to 10. Add a second assistant and it goes to 12. You may already see how this could create a problem. Too many students means you may not receive the attention you need to complete your course successfully. I’ve found that the ideal number of students to instructor is 2  to 1, however 4 is the maximum I will teach at one time. Higher number of people means that dive shops can disperse pool rental fees, transportation, and many other overhead costs among more students, thus earning more for the shop. For this reason, expect to pay a bit more for reduced class sizes. These are businesses and they have to make money somehow.

4. How often do you service your equipment?

Shotty equipment is never a good sign. Rental equipment tends to deteriorate quickly with constant use, however if the equipment is maintained, it will last a very long time. Regulators should go in for regular maintenance, usually every 80-100 dives, and all equipment should be washed thoroughly after each dive day. If you’re going somewhere on vacation to dive, it may be good to go as far as to ask for photos of the equipment.

5. What emergency procedures do you have in place?

All dive shops should have a plan in place in case of emergency. Accidents can happen during training and there should always be a briefing before each dive day talking about where emergency equipment is located and what to do if something goes wrong. If you call a shop and ask them what their procedures are and they hesitate or don’t answer, find a new shop. Although dive accidents are rare, precautions must be in place and all reputable dive shops will have an emergency plan.

6. Will my certification be valid wherever I travel?

There are over 100 dive agencies in the world. Some widely known agencies are PADI, SSI, SDI, and NAUI. If you plan on using this certification as you travel and explore, it is a good idea to research the training organization to ensure this is possible. At the end of the day, it is more important to choose who is instructing you and not what agency they teach through, but it is still a good question to ask.

7. What is the final price I will pay for my course, all included?

Some dive shops will have hidden charges that you won’t see until it’s time to pay. These charges may include equipment rental, course material such as books, or tank fills. If a shop can’t come up with a number within a few seconds of you asking this question, there is a good chance they have hidden fees. Do you want to trust a business with your life that isn’t even straight forward about their pricing.

It’s common to have some anxiety and stress before scuba courses and the best you can do for yourself is be prepared. By asking these questions you will be more informed and at ease and ready to get in the water.

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