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 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 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. Submit the appropriate First Aid / CPR Certification (WFR for USA)

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 assessment. You can expect the fees to total $700 to $950.
  • Assistant Pro Canyon Guide certification ivolves a 4-day assessment. You can expect the fees to total $950 to $1250.
  • Lead Pro Canyon Guide certification involves a 6-day assessment. You can expect the fees to total $1250 to $1375.
  • Master Canyon Guide certification involves 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. While not required, it is highly recommended to take the applicable ACA course 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) 16hrs of continuing education/training and (b) participation in at least two ACA Leader-Guide Rendezvous (GLAR) during the current period of certification.

What people are saying …

"I am really impressed with not only the skills and techniques but the fact that you put together such a great course. You did a great job and I learned a lot."

May 28, 2015

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

May 28, 2015

"Rich has a passion for teaching simplicity, efficiency, and most of all, safety while traversing through the beauty of our Colorado Plateau slot canyons. His humility and humor offset his directness in dealing with misconceptions and outright dangerous methodologies."

August 18, 2015

"The knowledge I have gained in these few days was incredible. My expectations were far exceeded. Thanks to Rich and Stefan for great instruction and smooth improv when needed."

May 28, 2015

"Rich is a wealth of knowledge in his field. His funny, open-hearted teaching style is welcomed by all students. I felt more prepared going forward in my own canyoneering. I look forward to learning more from him."

May 28, 2015

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