How do I become an Instructor?

Question:

Hi, can anyone give me some advice on the steps to take to become an instructor, I don’t mean the type where your qualifications are only valid for that place of work, I mean having the correct qualifications to work anywhere.

Answer:

I will assume you are starting from scratch:

Traditionally aspiring instructors have done a year or more as a voluntary instructor an an outdoor education centre, in return for volunteering the outdoor centre trains you to work with groups and pays for your courses. That solves the catch 22 where you can’t work with groups unless you are qualified and you can’t get qualified unless you have experience with groups. That’s the theory but what can happen is that following your year you have in-house qualifications coming out of your ears and maybe GNAS (archery), powerboat L2, BOF (orienteering) L1 and if you are lucky SPA Training (climbing) and now maybe the new climbing wall award.

If you are just looking for a rewarding and fun year but not necessarily a career then a year as a voluntary instructor can be awesome, there are lots of good centres out there to give you that opportunity, but you are looking for more of a commitment to your professional development so you need to be checking that the following are included:

  • A clear training timetable for the year
  • A commitment to NGB qualifications not just in-house
  • A proven record, talk to previous staff
  • A means to support yourself – a paid job
  • Good board and lodgings
  • A commitment to your professional development
  • A means to continue your profesional development following your year

The most important thing you need to check is how the centre is going to make good on it’s promises. At High Adventure for example we have the histories of all our past trainee instructors on our web site and a training year plan. In addition to our trainee instructor scheme, we also have a year called a developing instructor where we take the most promising trainee’s on for another year of professional development. So you have some frame of reference the following is what we expect our trainee’s to achieve from a standing start:

Year 1 Trainee Intructor

  • SPA Trained and assessed
  • Caving L1 Trained and assessed
  • Canoe L2 Trained and assesed
  • Kayak L1 trained and assessed
  • Mountain Bike Trail Leader
  • First aid
  • High Ropes, Low ropes, Archery, Orienteering, Climbing wall – in house

Year 2 Developing instructor

  • All of the above boxed off
  • ML training and assessent
  • PCV MINIBUS Qualification
  • L3 Canoe
  • L2 Kayak
  • L2 Caving
  • Plus more in the area of instructors choosing (for example one of our current DI’s will be doing their MIA training next year

There is lots of info here. Whatever you do make sure that you are not going to get used as free labour all the time, there have got to be pay-offs on both sides but talk to present and past staff and get the real story.

Another option is to pay for a fast track instructor scheme. Plas-y-brenin do one, as do ourselves, you pay approx £7-9,000 for 90 days of focused attention. Plas-y-brenin is the Dogs danglies of outdoor cente’s in case you didn’t know. The list of qualifications you can get is impressive but the time you have is short and you need to be financially well off to utilise such a course.

A final option is to pay for all the qualifications yourself and contact a local centre to volunteer to get time with groups. This will take longer but it will allow you to work.

I hope this review of how to become an outdoor instructor is helpful.

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