Three Certifications Worth Getting

Certifications- What's Worth Getting?SPI, WFA, SRT, BASAR, SCUBA…These are just a few of the myr­i­ad cer­ti­fi­ca­tions mar­ket­ed to peo­ple who work and recre­ate out­doors. Cer­ti­fi­ca­tions can feel like a black hole, slow­ly suck­ing in all of your time (and mon­ey), but not all cer­ti­fi­ca­tions are cre­at­ed equal­ly. Whether you’re pur­su­ing a career in the out­door indus­try, or you just spend every week­end chas­ing new lines and putting up new routes, here are some cer­ti­fi­ca­tions that are worth pursuing.

Wilder­ness First Responder
You’re sev­er­al miles from the near­est trail­head and you come across anoth­er hik­er who’s strug­gling to breathe. It’s clear that they need help—do you know what to do? When you’re hours from a hos­pi­tal and some­one is injured, there’s noth­ing scari­er than not know­ing how to help. And, if you spend a lot of time out­doors, the odds are good that you’ll find your­self in a sit­u­a­tion like this. Wilder­ness med­i­cine was designed to teach peo­ple how to iden­ti­fy and treat a vari­ety of injuries—from the mun­dane to the life-threat­en­ing. If you’re short on time, the Wilder­ness First Aid is a good intro­duc­to­ry course, but con­sid­er invest­ing in the eighty-hour Wilder­ness First Respon­der (WFR) course, which is required for most jobs in the out­door indus­try. Depend­ing on your loca­tion you can find a course in your area with SOLO, Wilder­ness Med­ical Asso­ciates or NOLS Wilder­ness Med­ical Institute.

Avalanche Course
Ski­ing in the back­coun­try opens up a lot of ter­rain, but when you leave inbounds, you face the risk of avalanch­es. Although avalanche safe­ty gear like the AvaL­ung and avalanche airbags have gone a long way toward mit­i­gat­ing some of the risks, they’re not replace­ments for good train­ing. The basic course (Avy 1) gives stu­dents an overview of how to make safe deci­sions in avalanche ter­rain. Dur­ing the three-day course, you’ll learn to read snow lay­ers, judge slope angles, and under­stand snow­fall his­to­ry. Most cours­es in the States are run through the Amer­i­can Insti­tute for Avalanche Research and Edu­ca­tion (AIARE).

Sin­gle Pitch Certification
If you’re not a climber, this isn’t the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for you. If you are a climber, get­ting your Sin­gle Pitch Instruc­tor cer­ti­fi­ca­tion with the Amer­i­can Moun­tain Guide Asso­ci­a­tion will set you up well for guid­ing. It’s designed to test your abil­i­ty to teach novices on sin­gle pitch routes and it’s required by most guide com­pa­nies. It’s also a great step if you want to move into alpine guid­ing inter­na­tion­al­ly since the AMGA’s cur­ricu­lum can lead to being an IFMGA guide (Inter­na­tion­al Fed­er­a­tion of Moun­tain Guides Association).