How to become an outdoor activities instructor
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- applying directly
- doing specialist courses approved by national sporting bodies
There's no set entry route to become an outdoor activity instructor but it may be useful to study a relevant qualification like a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Skills and Activities for Sport and Active Leisure (Outdoor Education).
This would teach you some of the skills needed for the job. Then you could try to find a trainee job with an activity centre.
You'll also need to get coaching or instructor qualifications approved by the relevant national governing body for each of your sports or activities.
You'll usually need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You could get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship as an outdoor activity instructor or an outdoor learning specialist higher apprenticeship.
Employers usually set their own entry requirements but will often recruit people aged 18 or over.
There are no set entry requirements but it may help you to get in if you have:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
The key to finding work is to get as much work experience as possible. It will help you get a better understanding of the role, and make contacts who may help you to find paid work. You could try getting involved in activities, like:
- Duke of Edinburgh awards
- membership of activity clubs
- volunteering at outdoor activities centres
You can apply directly to employers if you've got some of the relevant skills and knowledge needed for this role.
Some instructors have previous experience in youth work, teaching, sports coaching or training, or as physical training instructors in the armed forces.
You'll usually need:
- a skill in at least one outdoor activity
- coaching or instructor qualifications approved by the relevant national governing body for each of your sports or activities.
You could complete relevant qualifications through sports or activity clubs, or at an accredited outdoor education centre.
Examples of instructor qualifications include:
- Mountain Training England Award in Mountain Leadership
- British Canoe Awarding Body Certificate in Coaching Paddlesport
- United Kingdom Snowsports Coaching Scheme awards
You'll usually need at least 12 months' experience in the activity before you take the award. Check with the the relevant national governing body for your sport for details of courses and qualifications.
Professional and industry bodies
You could join the Institute of Outdoor Learning, for professional development, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.
The Institute for Outdoor Learning has more information on becoming an outdoor activities instructor.