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 lists all the scuba diving courses kids can take and the minimum age for scuba lessons.

So what are you waiting for? Read on and learn more about getting your little ones underwater and unlocking a lifetime of family scuba diving adventures!

(Please note: All scuba diving courses for children under the age of 18 require parental approval.)

When To Start Scuba Diving Lessons for Kids

a child scuba diver gives the 'ok' sign

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. 

  1. The PADI Bubblemaker program allows kids 8 years and older to try scuba gear and swim around in a pool or confined water. The max depth is two meters (six feet). No prior experience is needed, but kids must be comfortable in the water.
  2. 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.

PADI Junior Open Water Diver Course

Kids learning to scuba dive in a pool

The PADI Junior Open Water Diver course is like the adult certification program but with smaller teacher-to-student ratios and shallower depth limits. To enroll, kids must be 10-15 years old and able to swim. PADI Junior Open Water Divers automatically become Open Water Divers at the age of 15.

The PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification has restrictions to ensure young divers don’t exceed their limits. 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

kids - Underwater - Scuba Diving - Youth - PADI

After receiving a PADI Junior Open Water Diver 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 Diver, PADI Junior Rescue Diver, and PADI Junior Specialty courses.

Below is a complete list of certification courses and experiences young divers can participate in. Unfortunately, specific programs and courses are not available in all areas. We recommend contacting your local PADI Dive Shop to determine available courses. If you need help finding one near you, please use our PADI Dive Shop Locator.

PADI Junior Divemaster

Divers between the ages of 15 and 17 can enroll in the PADI Junior Divemaster program. Divemaster is the first step on the professional diving ladder. While Junior Divemasters can’t work as PADI Members, they gain leadership and diving skills through this intensive program.

Once a Junior Divemaster turns 18, he or she can upgrade to become a PADI Divemaster by completing the remaining portions of the course.

PADI Discover Mermaid Program and Basic Mermaid Course

PADI offers a unique course for kids drawn to the magic of mermaids – the PADI Mermaid™ courses. These courses teach basic snorkeling and safe mermaid swimming techniques in a fun and engaging way. Participants will learn to use a monofin and perform graceful underwater movements, like real mermaids. This course allows kids to have fun while learning a new skill and promotes environmental awareness and conservation through education about marine life and the importance of protecting it.

Mermaid in the pool

The Discover Mermaid™ program and Basic Mermaid course are suitable for kids aged six and above. The Discover Mermaid™ experience introduces simple mermaid activities in confined water, such as a pool or pool-like conditions, where participants can stand comfortably. It is a flexible, informative, enjoyable, and controlled experience that lets kids discover the joy of mermaid diving.

The PADI Basic Mermaid™ course combines essential knowledge and skill development in confined water settings, providing a comprehensive and engaging introduction to mermaid diving. The curriculum covers the history and culture of mermaid diving, primary safety considerations, and the basics of equipment and water skills. It’s suitable for kids aged six and above who are comfortable swimming at least 25m/80ft without assistance, can float at the surface for at least three minutes, and are in good physical health. No previous experience in snorkeling, skin diving, or freediving is required.

The course includes two phases. The first involves independent study using the PADI Basic Mermaid eLearning materials, although instructors may conduct class sessions if the eLearning materials are not available in your language. The second phase is comprised of a confined water session, mimicking pool-like conditions, where kids learn and practice basic mermaid diving skills. They are also taught problem prevention, handling techniques and how to perform mermaid dives.

List of PADI Programs and PADI Courses by Age

two scuba divers at the su

No minimum age:

6+ years old:

8+ years old:

10+ years old:

12+ years old:

Divers 12 years and older can also become PADI Junior Master Scuba Divers, the highest rating a recreational diver under the age of 15 can achieve. 

15+ years old:

Junior Diver Certification “Upgrades”

After age 15, depth and buddy restrictions default to those of a regular PADI Open Water Diver. Divers who were initially certified as Junior Open Water Divers 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. No special action 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 automatically result in a new certification card without the “Junior” prefix.

a smiling girl wearing a scuba mask standing in an outdoor pool


Scuba diving is both a sport and an adventure, giving kids a chance to explore the world directly without using social media filters. Beyond the “fun” side, scuba diving also positively impacts 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 also allow them to join the largest community for ocean change. By understanding how everything in the ocean is connected and how we interact with it as humans, children will learn to care for and protect the ocean.

Scuba diving is an excellent way for kids to avoid using electronics and screen time. This activity 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, Scouts Canada or Scouts UK, 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.

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