Do I have to be an expert swimmer?

Not at all. A good basic level of swimming ability is all that is required.

Do I have to be super-fit?

No. A reasonable level of fitness is enough.

Is there anything that might preclude me from diving?

There are very few cases where someone is unable to dive. Conditions like severe asthma or ear problems, lung or heart disease, epilepsy and diabetes could possibly prohibit you entering dive training. All prospective divers are required to undertake the UK Sport Diving medical, prior to commencing aqualung training. This can normally be arranged through your Branch.

Is it dangerous?

It can be, that's why you need proper training. To put things into perspective although there have been several reported scuba diving related incidents over the years, given that there are many tens of thousands of active scuba divers in the UK, making hundreds of thousands of dives each year, the headlines in the papers can be mis-leading. Like any adventure sport, scuba diving can be dangerous.You are probably at more risk driving to the dive site than actually scuba diving.

How deep to you go and how long are you down there?

Most UK diving is in the 10-30 metres range, although dives to as deep as 50 metres are not uncommon. An average dive duration would probably be 30 minutes or so.

How much will it cost?

From 1st April 2014 

Membership Type

1st Year Subscription

Annual Subscription after 1st year




Joint (cost for pair)



Junior (14-17 yrs)






Associate (non diving)






Junior Snorkeler <14



Branch Members normally also pay a Branch levy, set locally by the Branch committee, and ScotSAC membership fees. The local Branch levy varies depending on the type of equipment the branch has and other circumstances. For example Branches who have a dive boat or compressor may have higher annual levies than those that don't.

**Family membership covers up to 4 people (children up to the age of 18 years only), for each additional person please contact HQ
*Students please enclose a copy of your matriculation card.

Is there much to see underwater in Scotland? - And isn't it always cold?

Scotland is a diver's paradise, visited by divers from all over the world. A combination of clear waters, abundant sealife and a multitude of shipwrecks make it an ideal location for scuba diving. Conditions do vary a lot with the weather, particularly the wind, but on a good day it is unbeatable. The water temperature varies from 14°C (September) to 4°C (March). The suits provide excellent thermal protection as does some 'warming liquid' after the dive (e.g. soup!).

Can I dive abroad with my ScotSAC qualification?

Yes. The qualification is recognised world-wide.

How long does it take to train?

This depends on how intensively your particular Branch trains and to a certain extent on the individual. The normal arrangement is to meet once a week and the training commences with pool skills, supported by lectures, followed by open water training in the sea, which is reached about 2-3 months after starting out. More intensive programmes are available from within the National Diving Council's course programme.

Would it be quicker to learn to dive elsewhere?

There are organisations which do offer 'crash' diving courses, normally over a few weekends or so. Such courses are generally available through Dive Shops. The problem with such courses is that they cannot fully prepare an individual for safe participation in the sport, due mainly to the time scale involved (they have come under a lot of criticism from various authorities recently because of this). This is especially true when you consider the particular demands of most outdoor pursuits in this country. Another factor is that of cost: these courses are run by commercial organisations and so are required to make a profit. Around £350 is the typical cost of one of these short courses. A final point is that learning to dive in such a way excludes the individual from the camaraderie and social life of their local Branch.

How old do I have to be (or am I too old)?

You have to be 14 to start aqualung training, although some branches set the limit for joining at 16 or 18 years of age. One is rarely too old to start scuba diving - there are many active divers in their 70s in the UK. After all, the French called it the sport for active grandmothers!

I need vision correction. Is that a problem?

Not at all. Many divers wear soft contact lenses and prescription masks are also available.

What happens in the Branch apart from diving?

Branches are really the key component of the whole Organisation. They provide not only training, support and safe open water diving for their members, but they also tend to have a strong social focus as well. Events such as sponsored dives, skittle evenings, ceilidhs (ritual Scottish dancing - similiar exercise value to aerobics!), nights out and trips abroad as well as the traditional visit to the pub (after the dive!) are just some of the sort of activities that occur. It's also worth pointing out that Diving, by it's very nature of one individual depending on another for their well-being, tends to form strong and lasting friendships.

I trained on holiday; will you take me diving?

It depends, the answer is probably 'yes -but...'. Due to the differences is UK conditions when compared to holiday destinations you are probably not prepared for what you will encounter. For this and other reasons we recommend that you convert your qualification to a ScotSAC one (see Crossover page for more details). This will make you a safer diver with a higher level of skill and confidence. All ScotSAC Branches can perform these conversions. If you need any further information on this, just contact us at HQ.

What's in these tanks on your back?

It's not some exotic gas mix just plain old air (filtered, dried and compressed somewhat). Sorry to disappoint you!

Sounds great - whats next?

You can make a shallow scuba dive in the safe confines of a local swimming pool, accompanied by a qualified instructor, to see if you like it. See the Branch Listings to find your local branch and arrange a try-dive. If you enjoy the experience and want to learn to dive with ScotSAC discuss it with your instructor.