The Skills And Characteristics That Make A Good Activity Instructor

orange square Outdoor centres that offer activity courses are required to provide their guests with the ability to experience new and exhilarating challenges in a safe and pleasant atmosphere. The staff members whom they employ are an integral part of achieving that environment, so initial training is geared towards making sure employees understand the ethos of the centre, as much as developing their technical abilities. But before you are selected to join the team and train as an instructor, you need to pass selection, and in order to do that, you need to demonstrate to the company that you have a good number of the following characteristics; all of which will mark you out as a capable and worthwhile employee.

key skills diagram

Valuable characteristics

Confidence
The ability to show confidence in both yourself and in the task that is given to you. There is nothing wrong with not knowing how to do something new, but once the process has been explained, or it has been demonstrated, the assessors will be looking for you to confidently undertake the task.

Manner
A clear and concise manner which shows the character of the instructor is an important indicator of who will make a good instructor. When you are asked to demonstrate perhaps a simple canoe stroke, or climb a rope ladder, make sure your instructions are neither long-winded nor confusing.

Attitude
Displaying a positive attitude is vital. Once you realise that your attitude can have either a positive or negative influence on the tasks and the centre itself, you can begin to see why having a constant positive attitude is so important.

Diligence
The ability to follow a task through to the end keeping the quality both concise and consistent throughout. If you can show an earnest effort to get the job done then that will count for a lot during your interview.

Enthusiasm
To a great extent, enthusiasm is infectious, so if you can demonstrate it, it can really help both the people you are teaching, and perhaps even rub off on the people conducting your interview. Possessing this quality will prevent any teaching session from becoming poor. The level and extent that the session is pitched must always be positive.

Presentation
By this we mean your physical appearance. It's the same reason you would do better to wear a shirt and tie to an interview for an office job. You are unlikely to be wearing a suit during selection day, but the presentation of an instructor should always be clean and well groomed.

Presence
What do we mean by this? Well imagine that one instructor shows some of the qualities already mentioned above, such as enthusiasm and confidence. They are more likely to be standing at the front, and eager to get involved. This type of presence will inspire confidence in your fellow instructors and also in your pupils during the activities. Children especially are more drawn towards people with a confident presence as they take it as a signal that you know what you are doing and are someone worth looking up to.

Projection
Remember that you will be the face of the company, one of the people who interacts most with the visitors to the centre, so it is important to remember that the company image is projected through you. You need to be a good role model both in and out of work.

Sociable
This one is especially important if you are working at a centre where you all live on site. Even smaller centres are very close-knit compared to a lot of other work places. Working in outdoor adventure there is always the feeling of being part of a team. Having the ability to integrate into a family like structure, and perhaps living, eating and sleeping in a residential environment, is an important part of becoming a member of that team.

Inspiring Confidence
Ability to inspire confidence in others, and to reassure them about undertaking a new activity that they have perhaps not tried before, or think that they are not capable of doing. You are taking people outside of their comfort zone and they need you to give them the belief that they can do it, as well as the technical knowledge.

Patience
There will be plenty of people who take to activities like ducks to water, but as an instructor you will also come across those who will not be very good, or who will not listen to or follow your instructions, especially if you are teaching children. If you don't have a strong patience gene then you are going to get frustrated and that will turn the activity into a negative experience for the individual.


Most useful qualifications?

Most useful qualifications?

People often ask us which NGB qualifications they should be looking at achieving in order to kick start a career in outdoor adventure. To be honest is isn't an easy question to answer because it really depends on what you are planning to do long term. If you are completely new to the industry and looking to get started, you can either build up a few qualifications on your own, or you can try to get employed with a multi activity centre, who will usually offer you some NGBs as part of your training and qualification - this way you will also get some great experience too. Whichever route you decide, this article takes a look at which qualifications are most useful for budding instructors.

Most useful qualifications? >>

Mountain Leader awards

Mountain Leader awards

To get an idea of the full route from beginner climber through to professional mountaineer, take a look at our career guide to climbing, further down this page. This post is all about the Mountain Leader awards which come in two flavours - Summer and Winter. They follow on from Walking Group Leader and set you up on the start of a career leading small groups in mountainous terrain.

Mountain Leader awards >>

Highest Salaries

Highest Salaries

Perhaps you want to spend a season working in outdoor adventure as a way of filling the time between college and university, or on a temporary basis before you start working towards that 'proper' job that your parents want you to get. Or maybe you are serious about getting on and making as much money as you can, which still enjoying a career in outdoor adventure. If you are wondering which roles are going to give you the highest disposable income then take a look at this article as we bring you details of eight well paid jobs.

Highest Salaries >>