Qualifications - Starting a Career as an Activity Instructor?

orange square This is a difficult question to answer, yet one we get asked all the time. The quick answer is that some National Governing Body (NGB) awards are more useful than others in that there are more jobs associated with them, but the type of instructing you wish to undertake will determine which is the most valuable to you, meaning there isn't really a simple answer to the question. Let's try to answer in more detail. The majority of people who become Activity Instructors can be loosely divided into three camps.


sailing boat training

Multi activity instructors

This is a popular way for people getting started in adventure industry. Often the bigger companies realise that they can struggle to get enough qualified applicants, so instead they are looking for people with potential. They will then train you up to meet the standard required to act as an instructor at their centres. Clearly people who do already have some qualifications may stand a better chance of gaining employment, but even if you have no previous experience, this type of instructing can still be within your reach.

Generally the types of activities associated with multi activity centres include open canoes and kayaks, climbing and abseiling, archery and rifle shooting, as well wide games, obstacle courses and outdoor pursuits as obscure as frisbee golf. Clearly you are not going to be applying form many jobs in the future where you will be boasting about how you are qualified to teach the wacky stuff, but if as part of your training you pick up some canoe or climbing qualifications, then these can certainly help you advance a career in outdoor activity instructing. Another great qualification that you will always get at a multi activity instructor, and should really do off your own back if you are serious about teaching outdoors, is first aid. There are different options, but something like the ITC Certificate in Outdoor First Aid is an HSE approved award.

More information about multi activity career training.

Land based activity instructors

While it is possible to get recognised qualifications in a wide range of terra firma adventure activities, probably the most popular would be related to walking and climbing and come in the form of WGL (Walking Group Leader), CWA or CWLA (Climbing Wall and Climbing Wall Leader Award), SPA (Single Pitch Award) and ML (mountain leader Award). Many of these lead on to more advanced mountaineering courses, allowing you to teach people in progressively more hostile or challenging environments.

More information about climbing/mountaineering career training.

Water based activity instructors

If you are happiest on the water then you should be thinking about canoeing, sailing or even windsurfing awards as the most valuable. The British Canoe Union offer a series of qualifications starting out with UKCC Level 1, while the Royal Yachting Association offer the Dinghy Instructor as their starter qualification. Windsurfing is actually very popular, especially if you are hoping to teach around the coast or even around the Mediterranean.

More information about Paddlesports and Sailing career training.


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? >>

Climbing & Mountaineering Career Guide

Climbing & Mountaineering Career Guide

In the latest of our career guides, we take a detailed look at rock climbing, hill walking and mountaineering. Although it is quite possible to teach climbing without any recognised qualifications, with some aspirational and high quality courses on offer, it is no surprise that if you do want to get anywhere, most companies will insist you take part in the Mountain Training scheme. Whether you stick with the entry level Single Pitch and Climbing Wall awards, or take it all the way to the Mountaineering Instructor Certificate is up to you. This article will tell you all about training courses and the types of jobs they could lead to.

Climbing & Mountaineering Career Guide >>

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships

With unemployment at a dizzying high and the real pressure on school and college leavers, and graduates, beginning a career in outdoor education is often a great way to avoid the dole queue. The government want to get young people into training, and activity and adventure centres need young people to help teach their visitors. This perfect match is often supported by apprenticeship schemes which act as a fantastic stepping stone towards a career in the industry.

Apprenticeships >>