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 Core, Aspirant, CL1, CL2, 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 – (No Cost)
  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 …

"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

"Just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know that I really enjoyed your course. Thanks for your patience. You are a great teacher. I have found in the past that just because one has the knowledge on something, doesn't mean they have the ability to convey that information to others in a way they can retain it. You actually have the gift. I know I retained more that I thought I would. It was a pleasure spending those three days under your guidance."

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

"Awesome opportunity Rich knows his stuff. His emphasis on safety, patience and his obvious love of teaching canyoneering really make the difference."

June 1, 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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