All credible professions require formal training and proof of competency. ACA courses and assessments give you that credibility by guiding you through the entire process of becoming a professional canyon guide.

The ACA is the only organization in America to offer a comprehensive certification program for professional canyon guides. Certification from the ACA involvesĀ rigorous training and assessment with two key factors in mind: (1) Becoming the best canyon guide possible, and (2) Delivering the greatest reward for your clients. Success in the program indicates that an individual has been assessed to the standard of an internationally recognized, professional body.

The ACA offers professional certification at four levels:

Certification - Step by Step

Start by getting out and descending canyons. Lots of canyons. The key to becoming a canyoneering guide is to become accomplished in the sport. Seek instruction from a reputable instructor/guide to learn skills from the ACA's Core, Aspirant, Asst. CL, CL, and Asst. & Lead Pro Skills Checklists.

Seek out mentors. Talk to canyon guides. Observe them in the canyons. Check out their gear, their interactions with clients, and the techniques they use that differ from recreational canyoneers. No matter what your skill level is now, there is a big difference between canyoneering recreationally and guiding professionally. To be a pro, learn from a pro!

When you think you are ready, ACA certification at each level follows these steps:

  1. Complete the training by any means you desire for each level of assessment. When you have obtained the skills and prerequisites for a desired level of certification you are ready to take an assessment.
  2. Pass the required course and assessment.
  3. Submit a canyon resume that reflects the required canyoneering experience.
  4. Submit the appropriate First Aid / CPR Certification (WFR for USA)
  5. Create and maintain your member profile on the ACA's website.
  6. Progress to the next level.

How much does it cost to be certified by the ACA?

The answer will vary between providers but you can expect the cost of courses and assessments to be around $175 to $200 per day.

  • Single Site Pro Canyon Guide certification involves a 3-day course and a 2-day assessment. You can expect the fees to total $950+.
  • Assistant Pro Canyon Guide certification involves a 3-day course and a 2-day assessment. You can expect the fees to total $950+.
  • Lead Pro Canyon Guide certification involves a 4-day course and a 2-day assessment. You can expect the fees to total $1250+.
  • Master Canyon Guide certification involves a 4-day course and a 2-day assessment. You can expect the fees to total $1750+.

Be sure to add the cost of travel, accommodation and meals to estimate your total investment. Come prepared and ready as our assessments are extremely challenging for even the most competent canyoneer. Assessments are three strike format with no conditional passes.

Is there a first aid requirement for certification?

Yes. First aid certification is a prerequisite for ACA certification applicable to the locale you live in. You will be expected to obtain the level of first aid certification that is typical for guides in your area. In the United States it is common for guides to hold Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification.

How long does certification last?

Certification is valid for three years, provided you have kept your member profile current on the ACA's website.

How do I renew my certification?

You can become re-certified by any of these methods:

  1. Renew: Take abbreviated 2 day re-certification assessment
  2. Level up - Become certified at a higher level.
  3. Submit the following to renew:
    • 16hrs of continuing education/training and
    • Participation in at least two Training Events (GLAR/Rondys/Ground School/Intro Classes) during the current period of certification.
  • All re-certs require current WFR (cannot count towards continuing education hours)

What people are saying …

"This course will easily become the standard by which any other canyoneering course will be judged. It was amazing that the professional mountaineering guides found a lot to learn, but the pace was such that a neophyte like me could also pick things up quickly."

May 28, 2015

"It was immediately obvious that your instructors are not just canyoneers, turned guides, turned instructors. The course structure and quality of instruction was as good or better than any college course I have ever taken. Very professional."

May 28, 2015

"Bruce has such a passion for what he does, he is so encouraging, has such fun stories and can be serious when doing things that required that."

January 13, 2022

"All I can say is WOW! Terrific course. I had already taken a course from a private guide service and was concerned I might not learn anything new in the ACA basic course. My concerns were totally unfounded. I paid half as much for the ACA course and learned at least twice as much. By my math that's four times the value. Keep up the good work, ACA."

May 28, 2015

"Excellent course. Well thought out. I felt I learned a great deal and had a lot of fun doing it."

June 18, 2019