The Journey to Scuba Certification with The Dive Shop

Have you ever dreamed of exploring coral reefs, shipwrecks, and underwater caverns? With an Open Water Scuba Diving Certification, that dream can become reality.


The process of obtaining your certification may seem daunting at first, but with the right guidance and preparation, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a certified diver for life. Paying a visit to The Dive Shop in Memphis is the perfect place to start.

The Dive Shop was founded in Memphis over 60 years ago and it's not only a place to buy your swim, scuba, and snorkel equipment. The facility also serves as a Scuba Dive Center and Swim School. Even though the ocean is hours away, you can start your journey into the deep ahead of your next vacation freeing up valuable time before your first underwater exploration.

Keep reading to learn how you can get 50% off your first "Try SCUBA" course.

inside the dive shop storefront
Kelsey J. Lawrence

The Journey to Scuba Certification

If you’ve ever been curious about what it takes to become Open Water Diver certified, keep reading! Here is exactly what you can expect out of the process at The Dive Shop if and when you decide to get started.

Step 1: Show Up!

The Dive Shop encourages those interested in scuba diving to simply stop in for a visit. It’s as easy as that. You can make an appointment, or walk right in. When you arrive, an experienced staff member will chat with you about your background and goals.

Whether you’re interested in an excursion during an upcoming once-in-a-lifetime trip to Fiji, or you’re planning to “dive in” and become part of the community, they’ll present you with a plan that is guaranteed to help you reach your goals.

tanks of air for water diving
Kelsey J. Lawrence
Step 2: Complete a Digital Training At Your Own Pace

Once you decide to take the plunge, The Dive Shop will show you how to access their digital training app, which is available on your computer or mobile device.

The digital training allows you to complete some of the classroom work in advance at your own pace so you can spend more time in the pool when you’re at The Dive Shop.

Step 3: Schedule Your On-site Training!

The Open Water Diver class is a 3-week course that involves a 4-hour class two nights a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.). Each 3-week course will accommodate up to six divers per instructor. A private course can be arranged for an additional cost if you’d prefer a more flexible schedule.

Out of the 24 hours of training, you’ll spend 18 hours in the pool learning about buoyancy, the effects of pressure on the surface and underwater, equalization techniques, underwater communication, developing proper breathing patterns, and more.

Before starting the Open Water Dive class, all participants will need to acquire their own Personal Equipment System, which includes a mask, fins, snorkel, boots, and a mesh bag. When purchased from The Dive Shop, you can take comfort in knowing your equipment will fit properly and be approved for the type of open water diving that you’ll be doing.

indoor diving pool for training with deep sea mural painted on wall with whale
Kelsey J. Lawrence
Step 4: Plan Your Open Water Dives

To become a certified Open Water Diver, you’re required to complete a minimum of four open water dives. If you complete your Open Water Diver training with The Dive Shop, they’ll take you on six open water dives to ensure you’re ready and feeling comfortable with your abilities. These dives take place over the course of two days at a quarry, lake, or ocean, which do require you to travel at an additional expense. If you coordinate your open water dives with The Dive Shop, they’ll make all the plans and arrangements, which will include your travel, food, and accommodations, for a great price. The Dive Shop’s open water training offers unique diving experiences like exploring a downed helicopter or an old lead mine underwater.

Your first five open water dives will be led by an instructor covering the information and techniques learned during your pool training.

For the last dive, the instructor will relinquish control to you and your dive buddy so you’re planning the dive and informing the instructor of that plan. The instructor will oversee your last dive rather than lead it.

If you have an upcoming trip planned and would prefer to finish your Open Water Diver training while you’re there, The Dive Shop can recommend an instructor almost anywhere you’d want to go and work with them to ensure you get credit for those open water dives.

underwater scuba divers pose for photo with fish swimming in front of them
The Dive Shop
Step 5: Certification and Optional Specialty/Advanced Training

When you’ve completed the 24 hours of classroom and pool training, as well as your 4-6 open water dives, you will earn your Open Water Diver certification. If you complete the Open Water Diver course with The Dive Shop, you’ll do six open water dives, which will already put you two dives over the certification requirement and well on your way to becoming an Advanced Diver.

Once you’ve earned your Open Water Diver Certification, you can register for specialty courses that will prepare you for specific experiences like night diving, underwater navigation, stress and rescue diving, and more.

The Bottom Line

The Dive Shop’s goal is to make sure you feel safe and comfortable in the water rather than knowing just enough to get by. They guarantee their training and promise to make sure you’re feeling ready before you open dive, which will make your diving experiences much more enjoyable as you “fly through liquid space.”

scuba divers training in pool with ball
The Dive Shop

Not Ready to Commit? The Try SCUBA Course Could Be Perfect For You

For many, getting your feet wet with The Dive Shop’s Try SCUBA course is a great starting point.

Try SCUBA is an introductory course designed to introduce beginners to the underwater world. It is a low-cost, low-commitment way to experience the sensation of breathing underwater without committing to a full certification course. This is where I decided to start.

All I needed to bring to the Try SCUBA course was a swimsuit and towel. The Dive Shop provided the rest. My instructor, John, gave me a brief orientation about what to expect. He taught me the signals we’d use to communicate underwater and assured me that breathing underwater is more of a brain game than anything. After that, we suited up and made our way to the pool.

underwater scuba diver holds up 200th dive sign
The Dive Shop

Once in the pool, we practiced basic skills such as clearing our masks and regulators of water. We started out slow by dipping our faces in the water and before I knew it, I was sitting at the bottom of the shallow section of the pool taking full breaths of air! I went on to learn a few more skills like how to clear my mask if it were to ever fill up with water. John was right. Completing seemingly simple tasks while breathing underwater is definitely a mind game. It took me three attempts to check that skill off my list, and even then, I certainly didn’t master it.

Next, we dove to the bottom of the pool, which is 15 feet deep. As we descended deeper, the pressure on my ears felt similar to that of ascending in an airplane. John used the signals he taught during orientation to ensure I was comfortable and reminded me to use the Valsalva technique to clear my ears the entire way down. Once at the bottom of the pool, we swam around and tossed a toy torpedo back and forth through the water.

All-in-all, the Try SCUBA course was an unforgettable adventure that left me wanting more. It convinced me that I’m ready to dive into a full certification class! I’ve never been more excited to explore the mysteries of the deep.

If you’re interested in the Try SCUBA course, The Dive Shop is offering it at half price ($50) for I Love Memphis Blog readers. After the course, if you decide you’d like to pursue certification, that $50 fee will be applied toward the cost of your Open Water Scuba Diving Certification course. Simply call The Dive Shop at 901-763-3483 and mention this article to get started!

scuba divers training pose for photo in water
The Dive Shop

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I need to buy my own equipment?

Yes or no. It depends!

There are certainly benefits to owning your own gear, or what is called your Total Diving System. You’ll become comfortable with your personal gear and feel safer in the water. Each dive you do will become easier as you become accustomed to your own gear. If you plan to dive a lot, it could also make more sense for your budget than renting.

If you’re renting or borrowing gear for each dive, you’ll spend some time during each dive learning about the new gear and becoming comfortable, which could take away from the enjoyment of the experience a little bit.

The answer to this question mostly comes down to comfort, and how often you plan on diving.

What does scuba training entail?

Obtaining scuba certification involves training in a classroom, the dive training facility, and in open water (i.e. quarry, lake, or ocean). All of your training will be done onsite at The Dive Shop except for the open water portion of the training, which can be done at the destination of your choice depending on your availability and budget.

I have a disability. Can I still learn to dive?

Absolutely! The team at The Dive Shop has trained and traveled with people of all different abilities. You’re in good hands.

Is there a way for me to try scuba diving to see if I’ll like it before I commit to the full certification course?

Yes! The Dive Shop offers the Try SCUBA course, a 2-hour session that gives you an idea of what you can expect out of the full course. The first phase of Try SCUBA is an orientation where you’ll learn the basics of breathing underwater and what kind of equipment is needed. Next, you’ll be fitted into your gear so you can experience your first breaths underwater at The Dive Shop’s training facility.

To take the Try SCUBA course, all you need to have is a “swimsuit, towel, and a great attitude.” The Dive Shop handles the rest.

The Dive Shop’s Try SCUBA course typically costs $100 per person, but they’re offering it up to our I Love Memphis Blog readers for $50. Simply call The Dive Shop and mention this article to get started. Afterward, your $50 fee will be applied toward the cost of the Open Water Scuba Diving Certification course if you choose to keep going.

What is the timeline from beginning Open Water Diver training to earning my certification?

It all depends on your schedule. You can expect the classroom and pool training to take 24 hours over the course of three weeks. You can speed up that training or lengthen it if you choose to do a private course instead.

It’s the open water dives that will determine how much longer your training will take. How soon you can get that done will depend on your own schedule and budget.


The Dive Shop
999 S Yates Rd
Memphis, TN 38119

Monday - Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Dive Shop Website

About the Author

Meet Kelsey J. Lawrence, an award-winning journalist and freelance writer with a passion for outdoor adventure and family travel. Kelsey loves sharing experiences that push her beyond her comfort zone. 

With a broadcast journalism career spanning 15 years, Kelsey made her mark as a TV news producer and digital journalist, earning two prestigious National Edward R. Murrow Awards and an Emmy Award. Her expertise also extends to Corporate Communications, having served as a Communications Manager at FedEx, where she earned numerous accolades for her work.

In August 2022, Kelsey welcomed her son, Parks, and has been embracing "mom life" ever since. She is the creative force behind Adventure Baby, a blog that aims to inspire first-time parents like herself to continue traveling and enjoying the great outdoors with their precious sidekicks.

Kelsey also enjoys working with business owners who are looking to enhance their marketing and communications efforts with compelling content and strategic outreach. Feel free to reach out to her if you’re looking to level up your branding and engage your audiences through impactful storytelling.

The most underrated thing(s) about Memphis:

Our beautiful and well-kept hiking trails and walking paths! Parks and I get outside to walk a few miles every morning. We especially love the natural beauty and shade of Shelby Forest as well as the views of the Mississippi River from the Riverwalk pathway to Big River Crossing. 

Your favorite Memphis event:

My favorite Memphis event is one I’m lucky enough to participate in annually. The Memphis Ski Freeze happens every year on New Year’s Day at Mud Island River Park. A few dozen of us water skiers and wakeboarders take to the Mississippi River in the frigid temperatures to raise money for The Dream Factory of Memphis. If you think that sounds cold, keep reading. I like to take it to the next level by braving the icy waters without a wetsuit. I was raised in North Dakota after all. 

Favorite thing to do in Memphis with kids:

There are so many family-friendly places to visit in Memphis, it’s hard to choose just one! We love the Memphis Zoo for so many reasons. Visiting the zoo is a great way to get some exercise and be outside while seeing some of our favorite animals. The zoo offers kids a variety of interactive opportunities to safely experience the wonders of the “wild.” My favorite experience, the Giraffe Feeding Adventure, gives children of all ages (and us big kids, of course) the chance to get up close and personal with the remarkable animals while learning and having fun. Pro tip? Check out the Memphis Zoo when it’s raining! That’s when the crowds thin out and the animals come out to play.

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