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Becoming an adventure sports instructor

A thirst for adrenaline isn’t the only thing you’ll need to give other people thrills and spills. Read on to find out more.

Whether you’re scaling the tops of mountains or surfing on the ocean waves, what is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience for people on adventure sports trips and expeditions is just another day-in-the-office for the instructors that take them there. But while it’s a lot of fun, you’ll also have to take it as seriously as any career, especially since it’s not just your own life you’ll be taking in your hands.

What qualifications will I need?

The first and most obvious thing is experience – after all, no-one’s going to trust a surfing instructor who can’t stand on a board, or a parachute instructor who’s afraid of heights. But to become an accredited instructor for any adventure sport you’ll have to take training courses and qualifications approved by that sport’s national governing body in the UK, such as the British Mountaineering Council or the British Parachute Association. These courses will teach you general first aid and lifesaving techniques as well as about specific sports equipment and training techniques, and how long they last depends on how dangerous the sport is and the level you want to reach.

You normally won’t need any specific education qualifications for entry on to these courses, although some might ask for GCSEs in English and maths. However, if you are thinking about a career as an adventure sports tutor, there are a number of vocational qualifications you can take to help you get into the industry:

You can also study undergraduate degrees in outdoor activities at certain universities, where you will learn aspects of business management, geography and biology as well as doing practical placements. A degree in sports and exercise science or education could also be useful.

Where could I work?

Competition for jobs in the adventure sports industry is probably even tougher than the sports themselves, and you’ll need a similar amount of dedication to succeed. Start by seeing if there are any opportunities available with the local clubs or organisations you train with or at outdoor pursuits centres you have visited; even if they don’t have any jobs themselves they might know of other groups who do or be able to give you some work experience for your CV.

Or you could work with expedition and adventure holiday operators abroad. Companies like these will often want more proven experience, and knowledge of a foreign language will also be a great help, but the hard work will be worth it when you’re dealing with an adrenaline rush rather than rush-hour every morning.

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