Many personnel who leave the armed forces are adventurous by nature and have a strong background in sports and adventurous activities. This means one of the most logical steps is to move into the world of activity instructing, especially if you have a particular speciality or interest in a discipline such as climbing or mountaineering. Qualifications gained whilst serving may be suitable to instruct other service personnel, but to coach the general public these need to be upgraded to the usual civilian qualifications.
Where do I start?
On leaving the armed forces you need to be clear about what you want to do. There are many paths available to you but to give yourself the best chance of finding the training or employment opportunity that you want, you need to have a clear goal and a strategy to get you there. The good news is you're very employable, within a month 66% of leavers will find a job and within 6 months, 94% will be in employment so the prospects are good.
A good starting point is to go to the Career Transition Partnership website (https://www.ctp.org.uk), run by the MOD and aimed at provided successful resettlement services to leavers. Here you will find information on job opportunities and training providers for your desired career.
What sort of Adventure Training can I do?
This entirely depends on what sort of job or career you want. Adventure jobs are varied, you could specialise in a particular discipline by becoming a Canoe/ Kayak Instructor, Climbing Instructor, Sailing Instructor, Surfing Instructor, Ski/ Snowboard Instructor, Mountain Leader, Mountain Bike Trail Leader, First Aid Trainer etc, however to specialise in one area you need to already have a strong skill base and experience in that discipline. The other option is to train as a Multi Activity Instructor which will allow you to gain experience in a variety of adventurous activities leading to more than one NGB qualification. The qualifications to look out for are:
Canoe/ Kayak- BCU/ UKCC Level 1-5
Climbing- SPA (Single Pitch Award), CWA(Climbing Wall Award)
Mountaineering/ Walking- ML (Mountain Leader, WGL (Walking Group Leader)
Sailing/ Windsurfing- RYA Dinghy/ Powerboat/ Start Windsurfing
Mountain Biking- MBLA (Mountain Bike Leader Award)
Ski/ Snowboard- (BASI or equivalent)
These are just a few examples of the various qualifications and awards, there are many more available depending on the activity you want to teach.
Where can I train?
Instructor training courses generally base themselves at a local adventure centre within a short distance from the facilities needed to deliver the activity, for example many of the Mountain Leader qualifications take place in mid Wales, Scotland and the Peak District because, you guessed it, there are mountains there! There are lots of activity centres up and down the country and many provide some sort of instructor training so you can apply to enrol on a course just like any normal civilian would. There are however, a number of centres that specialise in resettlement packages for ex forces personnel and they're geared towards building on your previous experience and qualifications as well as highlighting technical training areas and equally as important, inter-personal strengths and weaknesses. Skern Lodge in North Devon is one of the best providers (I've had training there myself), but there are plenty to choose from.
What are my prospects?
You prospects of securing an activity instructor job are good. We've already mentioned you're employable and with your new qualifications you have all the attributes of becoming a successful instructor. Competition is strong but a good, confident instructor will always be able to find work whether that's at an activity centre in the UK or with one of the holiday companies overseas. Progression in the industry is dependant on your own personal ability and perhaps a bit of luck, if you find yourself at an independent centre you may be able to become a Senior Instructor, Activities Manager or even a Centre Manager, and if you make enough contacts in the industry you could go Freelance and enjoy the benefits of working for yourself!
To get started take a look at our Career Guides for more information on training and working in your desired discipline.