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NOAA Diver Course

Note: The NOAA Diving Program provides training primarily to NOAA employees that are authorized by their supervisors to dive as part of their job description. However, NDP also welcomes certain federal, state, and local government employees for a fee into its courses as space permits.Classes are not open to the public.

For information about NOAA diving careers and diving opportunities for both youth and adults, please see this page.

NOAA Diver Course

The intensive and physically demanding three week NOAA Diver course is designed for the beginner or inexperienced diver. It starts with diving basics and works through underwater tasks, diving safety, rescue techniques, and NOAA policies and procedures. The intent is for the diver to finish the training with the diving experience and knowledge needed to conduct underwater tasks as a dive buddy or standby diver at their unit. Successful completion of this course certifies the candidate as a NOAA diver.

By the end of week three individuals have gained experience in various facets of diving and underwater work techniques resulting in Special Task Endorsements. Core STEs include: Lift Bags and Rigging, Reels and Surface Marker Buoys, Reduced Visibility, Ship Husbandry, and Search and Recovery Techniques. Optional STEs include: Drysuit, Scientific Survey, Anchoring Devices, Pneumatic Tools, Disentanglement, and Full Face Mask.


Three weeks


Students must complete all water work, written homework, and pass written examinations to receive these certifications.

  • NOAA Diver
  • SDI Advanced Adventure Diver
  • TDI Nitrox Diver (optional)

Course Dates and Locations

NOAA diver courses are typically held in January, May, and September, and are either held in Key West, or at the NOAA Diving Center (NDC) in Seattle. Dates and locations may change at any time. For specific upcoming course dates, locations, and application deadlines see the Upcoming Events calendar.

  • January: Key West, Florida
  • May: Seattle, Washington
  • September: Seattle, Washington

Course Cost and Fees

The course fee for non-NOAA government employees for Fiscal Year 22 is $1,264.95 per applicant, payable to the NOAA Diving Program. The student and/or their agency are also responsible for covering all costs related to lodging, all meals, equipment, and travel. Only local, state, or federal employees who need to dive as part of their job description are permitted to attend training. Courses are not open to the public.

There is no course fee for NOAA employees.

Equipment Requirements

Please see the NOAA Diver Student Gear List for a complete list of equipment and gear. Contact the NOAA Diving Support Team if you have any questions or concerns about what you need to bring to class. The list of required items for this class includes:

  • SCUBA diving mask
    • Non-purge type
    • Should provide a leak-free fit, with a tempered fracture-resistant lens
    • If you wear glasses on land, consider ordering an optical mask or optical inserts, or wear contact lenses
    • Multiple sets of drysuit undergarments
      • Students will spend several days in drysuits during the course. Please see the Drysuit Layering Guide for how to properly layer your undergarments.
  • Laptop or tablet to access student materials and exams online
  • Non-NOAA students must also provide all their own diving equipment
    • Non-NOAA candidates should bring whatever diving equipment they will be using at their agency after training


Prospective students must complete all prerequisites and all application materials on or before the established application deadline in order to be considered for the NOAA Diver course.

  1. Diving physical examination and form, approved by the NOAA Diving Medical Officer (DMO)
  2. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Automated External Defibrillator (AED), and First Aid training certifications, valid through the end of training
    • Certifications must be from the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, or an equivalent course.
    • Training can be either entirely in person, or a blended online/in person course. Online-only courses will not be accepted.
  3. Successful completion of the NOAA Diver initial swim test
  4. After acceptance: completion of the online portion of the Divers Alert Network (DAN) Emergency Oxygen for SCUBA Diving Injuries class is required. Once you have received confirmation of registration from the NOAA Diving Center, a separate link with the DAN eLearning materials and instructions will be e-mailed to you at the address you provided. Please let us know if you already have an email address associated with DAN.

Application Package

All of the following application materials must be completed and received by the NOAA Diving Center on or before the established application deadline in order to be accepted. See the NDP Training Calendar for specific deadlines. All application materials (except medical forms) should be submitted to the NDP Support Team. Incomplete application packages or forms will not be accepted.

  1. NF 57-03-38 Training Request and Authorization Form
  2. NF 57-03-39 Initial Swim Test Evaluation
  3. NF 57-03-09 Liability Release and Assumption of Risk
  4. Copies of your CPR, AED, and First Aid certificates, valid through the end of class
  5. NF 57-03-50 Medical Evaluation Checklist and Authorization to Dive, NF 57-03-51 Report of Physical Examination-Diver, and NF 57-03-52 Report of Medical History-Diver
    • Please send medical forms to the NOAA DMO using a secured method of transfer as these forms contain sensitive personally identifiable information).
    • All candidates must have their diving physical examinations cleared by the NOAA DMO before you can be accepted into a course. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you begin the process to complete the diving medical physical exam as soon as possible to prevent delays in processing your application.

Non-NOAA divers only: Service records showing that diving equipment being used during class has been serviced within the last 12 months

Accepted NOAA Diver Students

After the application deadline, the NOAA Diving program makes a decision on which candidates will attend the next course. This decision is primarily based on the operational needs of NOAA. Most other government agency candidates who dive as part of their job description are accepted as space allows on a first come, first served basis. NOAA employees can view the status of their applications and materials here.

  • Preparing for your NOAA Diver class (downloadable .pdf tip sheet)
  • Please see the Student Gear List for a complete list of what to bring with you to class.
  • The three-week NOAA diver course is physically demanding: you will wear approximately 75 lbs. of equipment on land, 3 times a day, followed by homework and reading assignments. In addition, at the beginning of the course there is a second 500 meter swim test that must be completed in 15 minutes or fewer, and candindates who do not pass will not be allowed to continue training. So, it is to your advantage if you are physically prepared for the course with a pre-class fitness regimen. Suggested pre-class fitness activities include bicycling, running, swimming, racquet sports, and weight training.
  • Before the first day of class: completion of the online portion of the Divers Alert Network (DAN) Emergency Oxygen for SCUBA Diving Injuries class is required. Once you have received confirmation of registration from the NOAA Diving Center, a separate link with the DAN materials and instructions will be e-mailed to you. Please let us know if you are already registered (have an email account) with DAN.