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, and 3 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 required leader/guide course.
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.
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:
- Retake the assessment.
- Become certified at a higher level.
- 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.