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's­ Anchors, Rigging and Techniques class was excellent, and well worth attending. We learned so much that was useful from this master teacher. Thank you Rich!"

June 6, 2015

"This was a great opportunity for me to get exposure to a myriad of new techniques for use in future canyoneering exploits. The experience and perspective of the instructors added another dimension and contributed greatly to the value of the course."

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 have been a rock climber for over a decade and didn't really expect to learn anything new. Was I ever wrong. I didn't realize that there were so many specialized systems employed in canyoneering. All of it makes sense. Rock climbing systems are fine for dry rock, but not at all appropriate in a canyon - especially if there is water present."

May 28, 2015

"I learned more in 2 days of class from Rich than I have learned in the last 5 years of canyoneering. His style of teaching makes seemingly complicated ideas extremely simple. My confidence level in my abilities has greatly increased as a result. I will surely be taking future courses from Rich."

May 28, 2015

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