How to become an outdoor education instructor

16 February, 2024

 outdoor educator

As the world becomes more electronically connected, people often find themselves yearning for the experiences that nature provides. This is where outdoor education instructors come in. These professionals are responsible for teaching people how to interact with nature safely and responsibly, as well as how to develop a deeper appreciation for it. The role of an outdoor education instructor is diverse, exciting, and challenging. If you have a passion for the outdoors and enjoy sharing that passion with others, becoming an outdoor education instructor could be the perfect career for you.

An outdoor education instructor is responsible for leading and facilitating experiential learning activities in an outdoor setting. This can include rock climbing, surfing, mountain biking, kayaking, and more. In addition to teaching technical skills, an outdoor education instructor is also responsible for creating and maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment for participants.

Responsibilities and Daily Tasks

The responsibilities of an outdoor education instructor can vary depending on the organisation they work for and the programs they are facilitating. Some common tasks may include:

  • Leading group activities and teaching technical skills
  • Managing risks and ensuring the safety of participants
  • Planning and preparing lesson plans and activities
  • Communicating with participants and other staff members
  • Providing feedback and evaluation to participants

Skills and Qualities Required

To be a successful outdoor education instructor, there are several skills and qualities that are essential. These include:

  • Strong communication and leadership skills
  • Ability to manage risk and make decisions
  • Knowledge of outdoor education principles and practices
  • Ability to work well in a team
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Physical fitness and endurance

Identifying Essential Skills for the Job

To become an outdoor education instructor, you will need to have several essential skills. These include:

  • Technical skills in outdoor activities such as rock climbing, backpacking, and kayaking
  • Communication and leadership skills
  • Risk management and decision-making skills
  • Knowledge of outdoor education principles and practices

Obtaining Necessary Certifications and Licenses

To work as an outdoor education instructor, you may need to obtain certain certifications and licenses, depending on the programs you will be facilitating and the organisation you will be working for. Some common certifications include:

  • Wilderness First Aid
  • CPR / First Aid
  • Climbing or paddling instructor certifications
  • Surfing Instructor
  • Rock Climbing guide

Building Knowledge of Outdoor Education Principles and Practices

To build your knowledge of outdoor education principles and practices, you can take courses or workshops related to the field. This may include courses in risk management, group facilitation, and outdoor leadership. You can also gain experience by participating in outdoor education programs or volunteering with organisations that focus on outdoor education.

Types of Training and Education Programs Available

There are several types of training and education programs available for individuals interested in becoming outdoor education instructors. These may include:

  • TAFE or university programs in outdoor education or related fields
  • Certification programs through outdoor organisations
  • Workshops and courses offered by outdoor education providers

Criteria to Consider When Choosing a Program

When choosing a program, there are several criteria to consider. These include:

  • Accreditation and reputation of the program
  • Curriculum and course offerings
  • Opportunities for hands-on experience and practical application
  • Cost and financial aid options

How to Make the Most of Your Experience

Be proactive and take on as many responsibilities as possible. Ask questions and seek feedback from your supervisors and colleagues. Build relationships with other staff members and participants to expand your network.

Building a Strong Resume/Portfolio with Practical Experience

Highlight your practical experience in outdoor education. Include specific details about the programs you facilitated and the skills you developed. Be sure to also include any relevant certifications and licenses you have obtained. Use a log book.

Rewards and benefits as an Outdoor Instructor

outdoor educationWorking as an outdoor education instructor allows you to make a difference in the lives of students and connect them to the outdoors.

It’s a great way to foster personal growth, leadership development, and environmental stewardship. You’ll also have the opportunity to work in beautiful outdoor settings and gain valuable teaching experience.

Maintaining work-life balance and self-care

Maintaining a work-life balance in the outdoor education industry can be challenging, as many programs require long hours and overnight trips. It’s important to prioritise self-care and find ways to recharge outside of work. Take advantage of time off to pursue your own outdoor interests, spend time with friends and family, and practice self-care activities like yoga or meditation.

beyond the classroomWhy continuing education is important in the field

Continuing education is important in the outdoor education industry to stay current on best practices, learn new teaching strategies, and maintain certifications.

It’s also a great way to network with other professionals in the field and gain exposure to different outdoor education programs and settings.

Becoming an outdoor education instructor is a fulfilling and rewarding career choice for those with a passion for the outdoors. Remember to stay curious, keep learning, and always put safety first.

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