Getting started in technical diving, the first question you must ask is why. For the uninitiated, technical diving basically involves diving where the diver does not have direct access to the surface. Typically, this means overhead environments like wrecks and caves, or deep/long dives with decompression obligations.
In both cases, there is significant additional risk. To mitigate this risk, technical diving requires much more training than recreational diving, as well as much more equipment in order to add redundancy to all major systems including gas supply and buoyancy control.
But, that still doesn’t answer the question, why go technical diving at all? That question must be answered by each individual diver. Usually it is a desire to go where few (or no) others have been, and to see things you can’t see any other way. For some, it is the logical next step after gaining experience as an open water diver.
Regardless of the reason, getting started in technical diving requires training and equipment. PADI DSAT Tec/Rec and TDI are examples of training agencies that teach technical diving. I’ll focus on PADI. With PADI, a diver must have 30 dives, 10 of which must have been using enriched air (Nitrox) deeper than 60 feet. The diver must hold Advanced certification as well as Deep Diver and Enriched Air.
The PADI Technical Diver program is broken down into three courses, Tec 40, Tec 45 and Tec 50. The numbers correspond to the depths, in meters, the diver is qualified to descend to. Each builds on the last, introducing new concepts, challenges and equipment throughout the program.
If you are thinking of getting started in technical diving, the next step is to visit your local dive shop qualified and experienced in teaching technical diving. Discuss your goals and and ask a lot of questions paying special attention to the risks. Technical diving is exciting and rewarding for those prepared to accept the additional challenge.