Vocational Training for the Outdoor Professional

COVID-19 UPDATE:  AAI is open and operating with new policies and procedures for COVID-19. Click the following links to learn more about AAI's COVID-19 Operating Plans and cancellation policy. Note that AAI requires proof of full COVID-19 vaccination for all trips at least through September 30, 2022.


The American Alpine Institute has several programs that are vocational in nature and that are designed to fill in education and certificate gaps that outdoor professionals might have as climbers, mountaineers, ski patrollers, mountain rescue technicians, outdoor educators, office administrators, instructors, guides, etc. Each course may be taken as a stand-alone program. Many outdoor professions require certifications and continuing education to remain current while employed.

These vocational programs may be taken as needed to advance one’s career in the mountains and to build a professional resume. As these are stand-alone programs, there is no course flow or sequence in which they need to be completed. For example, if you attend our 12-day Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership Part I course, there is no deadline or limiting date to complete the 12-day Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership Part II course. Likewise, if you need the Avalanche Pro Level I training and you meet the prerequisites, you can take that course alone.

As long as the prerequisites are met, students may take these programs as needed to meet job requirements and to update their skillset in order to match the current industry best practices.

Every student is required to meet the prerequisites of the course(s) in which they wish to enroll and will need to provide an outdoor resume outling previous training, experience, and certifications to the vocational coordinator.

Prior education and training will be reviewed for all students and VA education benefits recipients entering any vocational program.

Please note that VA education benefits cannot be used to achieve refresher training in skills that have already been learned.

Vocational courses:


We also have 4 new programs we will be accepting Benefits for in 2021:


**Please note that the Leave No Trace Trainer curriculum is covered in the Professionalism for the Outdoor Educator course. There is no need to take both programs. You will receive the LNT Trainer certificate after completing the Professionalism for the Outdoor Educator Course.

Vocational Training for the Outdoor Professional

VA Education Benefits

Applying for Education Benefits with the American Alpine Institute

In order to use your education benefits with the American Alpine Institute, you will need your most current Certificate of Eligibility from the VA as well as a copy of your DD-214 if you are a veteran. If you do not have a Certificate of Eligibility, Veterans must apply online here. Once you receive this, please send it to our School Certifying Official, at [email protected]

You can read more about VA education and training benefits here. This is a valuable resource for you to understand your benefits.

PLEASE NOTE: If you would like to use your education benefits with AAI, you must register more than 30 days before the course start date if you have not used benefits with us before. It takes the VA 30 days to process a request of benefits for a new school/training location.

To retreive your Certificate of Eligibility, you can follow these steps:

  • Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
    • 1. On the “Welcome” page, select the “Manage Your Benefits” option at the top 
    • 2. Under the “Manage Benefits” option, select the “Status Tracking” option  
    • 3. In the “Education” block, you should see a link for the benefit you are eligible for
    • 4. Select the “Enrollment Status” Link (Post 9/11 GI Bill®, Montgomery GI Bill®, etc)
    • 5. Take a screenshot of the result and it in to Sara.


If you have never used your benefits before, you will need to fill out VA form 22-1990 - Application for VA Education Benefits. Please send in the confirmation number the VA sends you after you submit the form. This form must go to the VA. It takes the VA 30 days to process this request.

If you attended any other institution prior to AAI, you must complete VA Form 22-1995 - Request for Change of Program or Place of Training. Also, please be ready to provide prior education, certifications and training that pertain to training with the American Alpine Instiute. It takes the VA 30 days to process this request.

Benefits AAI Accepts

Post 9/11 GI Bill®- Chapter 33

If you have at least 90 days of aggregate active duty service after Sept. 10, 2001, and are still on active duty, or if you are an honorably discharged Veteran or were discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days, you may be eligible for this VA-administered program. 

Veteran Readiness and Employment® (VR&E) - Chapter 31

If you have a service-connected disability, the VA Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program can help pay for your training with us. If approved for this benefit, you will work with and report to a vocational rehabilitation counselor while you take courses.

Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty® (MGIB-AD) - Chapter 30

If you’ve served at least 2 years on active duty, you may qualify for the MGIB-AD program.

Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve® (MGIB-SR) - Chapter 1606

If you’re a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard, or Air National Guard, you may be eligible for this benefit.

Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance® (DEA)- Chapter 35

If you are the son, daughter or spouse of a Veteran who has died or is permanent and totally disabled as a result of a service-connected disability, you may be eligible for this benefit.

You can read more about using your benefits with the American Alpine Institute, a non-college degree school, here.

If you have any questions about using your VA educational benefits with AAI, please do not hesitate to reach out to our School Certifying Official and VA Programs Coordinator, Sara Umstead, [email protected].

A note about registration fees: A "registration fee" is any fee charged by a school to process student applications and establish a student records system. All students are responsible for the registration fee.

AAI's registration fee for vocational programs is $300. The registration fee must be paid in advance, before AAI begins the VA certification process, and is non-refundable. However, once training has been completed and AAI has been fully reimbursed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, AAI will, in turn, reimburse the student for the registration fees that were paid in advance.

If the student registers for more than one vocational course and wishes to use their VA Education Benefits to cover all the tuition costs, the student needs to make only a single advance payment of $300. Once the first course has been completed, the same $300 payment will be applied to the next course's registration fee, and so on, as a "floating" payment. Once training is complete, and the Department of Veterans Affairs has fully reimbursed AAI, the floating payment of $300 will be refunded to the student.


Vocational Training for the Outdoor Professional

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