Professional Membership and Certification Assessments

All credible professions require formal training and proof of competency. The profession of guiding is no different and there are a number of established training and certification organizations throughout the world for canyon guides. For aspiring guides there is significant value in acquiring knowledge and skills from more than one of these organizations.

Our mission is to establish international standards for professional guide certification and connect organizations to establish equivalencies and encourage reciprocity. The goal is to insure the investment you made in your training and certification is recognized everywhere you wish to work.

  • CGI Professional Membership is open to all individuals who have received certification from any recognized organization. Your member profile on the CGI website provides a valuable and very cost-effective tool to promote your services.
  • For individuals who are working towards acquiring the skills needed for certification we encourage you to check out our Training Sources Directory to find a training organization convenient to you.
  • For individuals who feel they have acquired the necessary skills (perhaps from a variety of sources), but have not received certification and wish to consolidate their credentials, assessments conducted by CGI provide another option for you to prove your competency and receive an internationally recognized certification.

Regardless of the path you choose, certification indicates to prospective clients and students that you have been assessed to the standard of an internationally recognized, professional body.

CGI offers professional certification assessments at four levels:

  • Level 1 – Aspirant Canyon Guide
  • Level 2 – Fixed Site / Single Pitch Canyon Guide
  • Level 3 – Pro Canyon Guide
  • Level 4 – Master Canyon Guide

There are separate terrain-specific assessments for Swiftwater Canyoneering, Desert Canyoneering and Ice Canyoneering.

Instructor Certification

Teaching canyoneering skills to others involves more than technical competence. Effective instructors must be good communicators who use an array of teaching strategies to accommodate students’ learning styles. Assessments for instructor certification are available as an add-on for CGI certified guides, Level 2 and higher. Instructor certification assessments focus on teaching skills rather than specific technical skills.

Certification – Step by Step

Start by getting out and descending canyons. Lots of canyons. The key to becoming a canyoneering guide is to become accomplished in the sport. Seek instruction from reputable instructors and guides. Seek out mentors. Talk to canyon guides. Observe them in the canyons. Check out their gear, their interactions with clients, and the techniques they use that differ from recreational canyoneers. No matter what your skill level is now, there is a big difference between canyoneering recreationally and guiding professionally. To be a pro, learn from a pro.

When you think you are ready, CGI certification at each level follows these steps:

  1. Acquire the necessary skills by any means you desire for each level of assessment.
  2. Pass the required assessments.
  3. Create and maintain your member profile on the CGI website.
  4. Submit a canyon resume that reflects the required canyoneering experience.
  5. Progress to the next level.

Level 1 — Aspirant Canyon Guide

This certification level is ideal for those seeking an entry-level certification as a foundation for gaining additional guiding experience working as an apprentice or assistant guide before pursuing higher levels of certification.

Requirements for certification:

  • Successfully challenge and pass the 2-day Level 1 Core Skills Assessment (or submit documentation of equivalent certification issued by another recognized organization).
  • Create and maintain a member profile on the CGI website.
  • Submit a Canyon Resume that reflects the following: (1) minimum of 20 canyon descents and (2) minimum of 2 unique canyons descended.

Level 2 — Fixed Site / Single Pitch Canyon Guide

Fixed Site / Single Pitch Canyon Guide is a certification available to individuals who either (a) guide fewer than three canyons that all have similar characteristics, hydrology and emergency response requirements, or (b) guide easy canyons with simple, straight-forward anchors and rigging (single-point natural anchors, bolted anchors, basic deadman anchors).

It is also suitable for individuals who anticipate that a significant portion of their work will be teaching canyoneering skills in non-canyon environments such as local climbing crags.

Requirements for certification:

  • Hold current CGI Level 1 certification (or submit documentation of equivalent certification issued by another recognized organization).
  • Successfully challenge and pass the 2-day Level 2 Core Skills Assessment (or submit documentation of equivalent certification issued by another recognized organization).
  • Create and maintain a member profile on the CGI website.
  • Submit a Canyon Resume that reflects the following: (1) minimum of 50 canyon descents, (2) minimum of 2 unique canyons descended, and (3) minimum of 10 canyon descents in which you performed in a lead role.

Level 3 — Pro Canyon Guide

CGI certified Pro Canyon Guides are individuals who have attained and demonstrated a high level of technical competence through rigorous assessment that meets and exceeds international standards. CGI certification provides a decisive tool for choosing the right guide/instructor to help clients and students achieve their canyoneering objectives.

Requirements for certification:

  • Hold current CGI Level 2 certification (or submit documentation of equivalent certification issued by another recognized organization).
  • Successfully challenge and pass the 2-day Level 3 Core Skills Assessment (or submit documentation of equivalent certification issued by another recognized organization).
  • Create and maintain a member profile on the CGI website.
  • Submit a Canyon Resume that reflects the following: (1) minimum of 100 canyon descents, (2) minimum of 10 unique canyons descended, and (3) minimum of 20 canyon descents in which you performed in a lead role.

Level 4 — Master Canyon Guide

CGI certified Master Canyon Guides are individuals who progressed from Pro Canyon guide to attain a level of technical proficiency that represents the pinnacle of guiding excellence.

Requirements for certification:

  • Hold current CGI Level 3 certification (or submit documentation of equivalent certification issued by another recognized organization).
  • Successfully challenge and pass the 4-day Level 4 Core Skills Assessment (or submit documentation of equivalent certification issued by another recognized organization).
  • Create and maintain a member profile on the CGI website.
  • Submit a Canyon Resume that reflects the following: (1) minimum of 500 canyon descents, (2) minimum of 50 unique canyons descended, and (3) minimum of 100 canyon descents in which you performed in a lead role.

How are CGI assessments organized and conducted?

Core Skills Assessments are offered throughout the year at various locations around the world, typically over a 6-day period. Level 1 core skills are assessed during the first and second day. Level 2 core skills are assessed during the third and fourth day. Level 3 core skills are assessed during the fifth and sixth day.

Level 4 Core Skills Assessments are conducted separately.

Terrain-specific assessments for Swiftwater Canyoneering, Desert Canyoneering and Ice Canyoneering are conducted seasonally in locations that provide appropriate conditions.

Custom guide assessments are available for companies and organizations who are interested in pursuing certification for their staff. Assessments can be tailored to your specific needs and conducted at your location. It may be possible to schedule guide assessments, as well as an accreditation review during the same visit.

How long does CGI certification last?

Certification is valid for three years, provided you (1) keep your member profile current on the CGI website, (2) participate in 16 hours of continuing education, and (3) hold appropriate first aid certification.

What is the process for recertification?

You can renew your certification by any of these methods:

  • Retake the assessment.
  • Become certified at a higher level.
  • Submit a canyon resume that reflects (a) preapproved continuing education AND (b) participation in at least one CGI Canyon Guide Rendezvous during the period of certification.

Is there a first aid requirement for certification?

Certified guides are expected to pursue the level of first aid training and certification that meets the standards for professional guides in the geographic areas and jurisdictions where they work or intend to work.

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