How long does it take to get a scuba diving license? Short answer: It takes at least four days to become a certified diver and earn your scuba diving license. After successfully completing the Open Water Diver course, your digital certification card (PADI eCard™) may be downloaded within 24 hours — usually sooner. 

Can’t devote four full days to scuba training? Prefer to take your time? No worries. You can earn a PADI scuba certification over a few weekends or even a few months. 

In a moment, I’ll explain some different ways to get a scuba diving license. First, I want to help folks who may have clicked this article because they want to know how long it takes to get a replacement scuba diving license.

Lost Your PADI Card?

Click the button below to purchase a PADI eCard. It will be available for download almost instantly. 

You can also order a plastic replacement card made from recycled materials by clicking on the button above, but be advised that plastic cards take 1-2 days to process and two weeks or more to arrive in the mail. Express shipping options are not available. Learn more about your PADI replacement card options.

A shot of the sunset turtle Limited Edition PADI certification card and eCard

How Long Does It Take to Get PADI Certified?

As mentioned above, you can get a scuba diving license (aka become a certified diver) in as little as four days. If you use PADI eLearning® for the knowledge development portion of your scuba certification course, you can complete the inwater training part of the course in three days.

Knowledge de-what? 

There are three parts to earning a scuba certification:

  1. Knowledge development (classroom or online learning)
  2. Skill development in a pool or pool-like environment (confined water)
  3. Four open water dives in a large body of water

PADI eLearning® allows you to complete the knowledge development part of the course at your own pace. You can take up to one year to complete your online course. The alternative is to read the Open Water Diver Manual, watch the training videos and attend classroom sessions.

Skill development can be done in one very long day, but it’s more common to spend two to three half days in the pool. The open water dives must be completed over at least two days, and the time commitment varies depending on how far away the open water site is.

Here’s a breakdown of approximately how long each part of a scuba certification course can take:

  • Knowledge development: Five to 10 hours
  • Pool training: Six to 10 hours
  • Open water dives: Must be completed over at least two days

Why Such a Wide Range of Time?

PADI training is performance-based. When you master a skill or concept quickly, you’ll move on to the next one. If you forget a step, or don’t feel comfortable with a skill, you’ll repeat the skill until you and your instructor agree that you have demonstrated mastery and are ready to move on.

The hour range must account for a private versus a group class. Group classes usually cost less and can be a lot of fun. But when there are more students, the class takes longer.

two divers test their equipment in a pool

PADI Open Water Diver Referral: Start Local, Finish Tropical

An Open Water Diver Referral is the best choice for people who want to maximize their time on holiday by exploring, gaining dive experience, and eating and drinking all the things. With an open water referral, you complete the course knowledge development segments and confined water dives before leaving home. 

You can choose when and where to complete your four open water certification dives. Your local instructor will give you a referral document verifying what you’ve accomplished. You can present that document to any PADI Dive Shop or Instructor around the world within 12 months to finish the course.

It should be said that you don’t have to do your final dives somewhere tropical. You could get a scuba license (aka certification) while visiting Canada, Iceland, Scotland or many other cold water diving hotspots.

Learn more about the PADI Open Water Diver Referral process here.

Get Started for Free

If you’ve always wanted to get a scuba diving license, why not take the first step? It literally costs nothing and there’s no commitment. We don’t even ask for a credit card.

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