An Open Water Scuba Diver is an autonomous diver who is trained for a maximum depth of 20 metres on sites that have a physical depth limitation (no drop-offs, blue water diving or other sites that have no physical barrier preventing unintended descent). Dives should also be limited to conditions and circumstances that are equal to (or better) than those in which the training was conducted. The course reflects these restrictions. As an autonomous diver, Open Water Scuba Divers need a solid base of dive theory. They need all information that is needed to take decisions ahead of a dive and to react to unexpected circumstances.
Although the formal minimum age is 10, the required level will restrict many 10 and 11 year olds from completing the course. For divers from 10 to 15, restrictions apply (general standards). A verification of these limitations will make clear that 10 and 11 year old divers have little to gain with respect to expanding their options. Their participation is thus to be seen as a learning experience only.
The course consists of four theory sessions, two pool sessions and two dives in open water. Participation is allowed for those who hold a Scuba Diver (or equivalent) certification. Depending on the circumstances and dive conditions, Open Water Scuba Diver courses are often combined with initiations. Most initiations (except Nitrox) have very limited theory. Combining Open Water Scuba Diver with one or more initiations assures better preparedness for diving in the local environment.
The Open Water Scuba Diver course could be completed in 15 contact hours (2 days), but three days is more reasonable to accommodate for slower learners or less than ideal course conditions. Scuba Instructors and instructors of higher rating can organize and conduct these programs. The Advanced Scuba Diver is the connecting certification.