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 involves 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 three 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 Level 1, 2, 3 and 4 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 for a desired level of certification you are ready to take an assessment.

2. Pass the required assessments.

3. Create and maintain your member profile on the ACA's website.

4. Submit a canyon resume that reflects the required canyoneering experience.

5. 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 $100 to $125 per day.

  • Fixed Site / Single Pitch Canyon Guide certification involves a 5-day course and 2-day assessment. You can expect the fees to total $700 to $875.
  • Pro Canyon Guide certification involves a 7-day course and 4-day assessment. You can expect the fees to total $1100 to $1375.
  • Master Canyon Guide certification involves one 7-day course, one 4-day course and a 7-day assessment. You can expect the fees to total $1800 to $2250.

Be sure to add the cost of travel, accommodation and meals to estimate your total investment. The courses above are not required but are highly recommended to pass the assessment. Our assessments are extremely challenging for even the most competent canyoneer.

Is there a first aid requirement for certification?

First aid certification is not a prerequisite for ACA certification. However, 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. You can become recertified by any of these methods:

  1. Retake the assessment.
  2. Become certified at a higher level.
  3. Submit a canyon resume that reflects (a) preapproved continuing education and (b) participation in at least two ACA Leader-Guide Rendezvous during the current period of certification.

 

 

What people are saying …

“Any time that you can

learn from the pro, Rich Carlson, its a fine day of learning and meeting people with the same interest and passion as you have for the sport of canyoneering!”

May 28, 2015

“Rich Carlson could be considered

the father of American canyoneering because of his influence on style, technique, and ethics. In 1999 Carlson established the American Canyoneering Association to promote safety, responsibility, and ethics in American canyoneering. Rich and the ACA have been critical factors in building national standards that have become the cornerstone of canyoneering at the recreational and professional levels throughout the Americas.”

–Dave Black

May 28, 2015

“I just wanted to let you know

what a fabulous time I had in the Level I course that finished last week. I learned an incredible amount of information and had such fun doing it. Dave Black has an infectious, tangible passion for the canyons. Being in his class was a priviledge. Rarely have I met such a capable man. I felt completely secure and comfortable in his presence. He’s the kind of guy you believe could cook you dinner, fix a radio and build a quonset hut from a couple of carabiners and some webbing. No doubt he has forgotten more about canyons and climbing than I will ever know. It is such a gratifying discovery to realize how much you don’t know about something. I have a long way to go, but I am genuinely looking forward to more canyoneering. Thanks very much for a great course.”

May 28, 2015

“Even though I have climbed for 15 years,

I learned a lot of new, cool techniques. Wow! Great course.”

May 28, 2015

“Super helpful class

– I learned a lot of rappelling and rappel set up techniques that I can’t wait to use on my next trip. In the meantime, I have A LOT to practice.”

May 28, 2015

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