Outdoor activities instructor

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Outdoor activities instructors lead trips and teach skills in activities like hill walking, climbing, canoeing, skiing and snowboarding.

Salary range: £12,000 to £30,000

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.

Entry requirements

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

More information


You could get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship as an outdoor activity instructor.

Employers usually set their own entry requirements but will often recruit people aged 18 or over.

Entry requirements

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

More information

Volunteering and experience

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

Direct application

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.

Other routes

You could complete relevant qualifications through sports or activity clubs, or at an accredited outdoor education centre.

Examples of instructor qualifications include:

  • Mountain Leader Training England Award in Mountain Leadership
  • British Canoe Union Certificate in Coaching Paddlesport
  • United Kingdom Snowsports Coach Awards Scheme

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.

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the Institute of Outdoor Learning, for professional development, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.

Further information

The Institute for Outdoor Learning has more information on becoming an outdoor activities instructor.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with others
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • leadership skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work on your own
  • knowledge of English language
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

  • be over 18 years of age
  • have a life-saving certificate if you instruct water-based activities
  • have a first aid certificate
  • pass enhanced background checks

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • planning and preparing activities
  • explaining, advising on and demonstrating activities
  • instructing in specialist areas, like sailing or climbing
  • making sure all equipment and facilities are safe
  • explaining safety procedures

Working environment

You could work at an activity centre or in the countryside.

Your working environment may be you’ll travel often, physically demanding and outdoors in all weathers.

Career path and progression

You could work on contract, or do freelance work.

With experience, you could progress to centre management, or set up your own activity centre.

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