Professionalism for the Outdoor Educator


Many people jump through the hoops. They get a few certifications, they build their outdoor resume and then they try to make the transition. They try to transition from the traditional workplace to a career in the outdoors.

This can be a very difficult transition.

It's difficult for several reasons. First, how do you get a job in the outdoors? And if you're lucky enough to get one, how do you hold onto it? Second, how do you build your brand? How do you grow your student base? Third, how do you manage the problematic assignments you receive? How are you going to deal with it if you're thrust into the difficult position of planning something completely and totally new.

Professionalism for the outdoor educator isn't just wearing the right clothes or saying the right thing to impress the right person. It's the ability to create an aura of respectability and trust around oneself all the time.

The American Alpine Institute Professionalism for the Outdoor Educator program is a five-day program that sends time both in the classroom and in the field, allowing prospective outdoor educators to look behind the curtains and to see what goes into making a job in the outdoors into a career.

Professionalism for the Outdoor Educator


The curriculum for the Professionalism for the Outdoor Educator program is multifaceted. Some of the material is focused on how to get a job. Some is focused on how to keep a job. Some is focused on how to make a living and how to make your job a career. Other parts are focused on program development, field management and expedition planning. The combination of these things will provide prospective outdoor educators and guides with a solid baseline of skills that they will be able to take into their careers in the outdoors.

Day One:

  • Introduction to professionalism
  • How to obtain and keep employment
  • Common reasons for termination
  • Introduction to mountain electronics
  • Leave No Trace - Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Map and compass for professionals
  • Tour planning


Day Two:

  • Diversity and gender issues in the outdoors
  • Commercial permitting and land management issues
  • Liability and accident insurance
  • Resume development
  • Personal marketing
  • Ancillary income (sponsorship, writing, photography, etc.)
  • Type of jobs available and employment requirements
  • Ancillary industry organizations
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) inspections
  • Development of a risk management plan


Day Three:

  • Hike into the backcountry for a single night. Students will teach Leave No Trace principals while in the field and receive feedback.
  • Leave No Trace - Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Leave No Trace - Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find


Day Four:

  • Morning and evening guide meetings
  • Leave No Trace - Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife
  • Leave No Trace - Be Considerate of Other Visitors
  • Hike out of the field. Begin final assessment preparations.


Day Five:

  • Final Assessment


Final Assessment:

Students will work in teams of two to develop a comprehensive expedition plan. This plan will include marketing materials, meeting place, itinerary, permit rules, equipment lists and a tour plan. They will present their final plan to the group at the end of the day.

Professionalism for the Outdoor Educator



  • June 10 - 14, 2024
  • July 15 - 19, 2024
  • Sept 09 - 13, 2024



  • April 07 - 11, 2025
  • June 13 - 18, 2025
  • July 14 - 18, 2025
  • Sept 08 - 12, 2025


Professionalism for the Outdoor Educator


Students who complete this course will have the following:

  • Leave No Trace Trainer Certification
  • Outdoor Resume
  • Personal Marketing Plan
  • Interview Skills
  • Ability to build a tour plan
  • Analog map and compass skills
  • Digital map and compass skills
  • Field electronics skills
  • Ability to develop a marketable trip



Professionalism for the Outdoor Educator

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