How To Be An Outdoor Instructor

The Three Main Ways To Become an Outdoor Instructor

In the following, we briefly breakdown the three main ways you can become an outdoor instructor – namely: private coaching, outdoor instructor training courses and volunteering to build up experience and qualifications. Each one of these options comes with it’s upsides and downsides as well and we will break down each below.

1: Private Coaching and certifications in your own time.

This is probably the quickest way to develop personally within sports and activities but is also probably the most expensive as private days are often more expensive when compared to training courses as a group or transport costs to volunteer. If you are interested in a single activity or only a few activities specific then this could be your way into the industry. For example we offer lots of SUP specific courses for those interested.


  1. Builds personal skills the quickest.
  2. Tailors the development specifically to you.
  3. Can be done in increments around your full time employment easily.


  1. Expensive
  2. Doesn’t build instructor skills as quickly as you won’t be working with groups and instead will be developing your own abilities.

2: Outdoor Instructor Training Courses

Outdoor Instructor Training Courses can be a more cost efficient option than the above and are certainly more sociable given they often have large groups of people on them. This can be both a plus and a downside but this is also the most likely method people choose to pursue a career in the outdoors as the courses normally involve many different sports in water, mountain and snowsports leading one to be certified in a large number of entry level qualifications upon termination of the course allowing for at least half the year round of not the full year round employment relatively easily. 


  1. Very sociable environment
  2. Many different qualifications gained
  3. Learn from each other as lots of people means lots of different experiences across many different sports.
  4. All sat at once back to back getting things done quickly.


  1. Often not tailored to the individuals and more generic i.e. we will do these courses not other courses.
  2. Expensive but not as much as the above option.
  3. Need to take the time off work to sit the course as they are residential and last from 4-12 months depending on the course.
  4. Very full on with little time if any for rest and recuperation.

3: Volunteering to build experience and qualifications

Some companies like Outfit Moray commit to helping develop outdoor instructors from less advantageous backgrounds and really try to support people coming into the industry by allowing them to volunteer alongside certified coaches to shadow, build their experience up and when ready sit qualifications which in turn then allows them to work for the organisations as opposed to volunteering any more so it is a win win for both parties. 


  1. Highly supportive environment
  2. Varied activities and instructors to shadow with a wealth of experience
  3. Quickly builds skills relevant to being an instructor like coaching, people skills, ropework skills.


  1. Can take a while to build the personal skills up.
  2. Very few companies offer this opportunity!