Canyon Guide Certification

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.

Most organizations require certification candidates to receive all of their training from that organization. We believe there is significant value for aspiring guides in acquiring knowledge and skills from more than one organization.

The real value of certification is in proving technical knowledge and competence, which can be accomplished through our unique assessment process, regardless of where or how you acquired the knowledge and skills.

CGI offers three paths to certification. Choose the path that fits best with your circumstances:

1. Training and Assessment

For individuals who are working towards acquiring the skills needed for certification we encourage you to find a reputable training organization near you or contact us for recommendations.

2. Assessment Challenge

For individuals who feel they have already acquired the necessary skills (through any combination of formal and informal sources), assessments conducted by CGI provide another option for you to prove your competency and receive an internationally recognized certification. There are no training prerequisites for challenging an assessment.

3. Recognition of Current Certification

For individuals who already hold current certification from another recognized organization, you may apply for CGI certification of an equivalent level.

Regardless of the path you choose, the goal is to insure the investment you make in your training and certification is recognized everywhere you wish to work. Certification indicates to prospective employers, clients and students that you have been assessed to the standard of an internationally recognized, professional body.

Canyon Guides International (CGI) is known and respected for its exceptional training and leadership that benefits new and experienced guides alike. CGI provides a great combination of verification of experience, online exams and hands-on assessments. While I enjoy guiding and teaching, my favorite part of what I do is witnessing the joy my clients and students experience their first time descending a canyon. CGI has allowed me to enjoy all of it! I’m proud to be a member, guide and instructor of such a great organization.
Shane Wallace
CGI Pro Member
Canyon Guides International – CGI, has a unique approach to certification. It offers various paths to certification and recognition of experience and knowledge. This is a great program if you do not want to start from zero and your training and experience is already considerable. If you already have a certification from another organization, or you need more training, CGI offers paths for you, too. This approach is possible thanks to CGI’s founder Rich Carlson’s experience canyoneering and training around the world. Different canyoneering environments, different practices and traditions, one common goal: safety through education and training.
Adolfo Issasi
CGI Pro Member

CGI offers pro certification assessments at four levels:

Level 1 Assistant 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.

Level 1 guides may be trained and certified by any CGI Certified Guide, Level 2 or higher. Certification may be awarded based on instructor evaluation during a Level 1 training course or by challenging a Level 1 assessment.

Level 2 Single Pitch Canyon Guide

Fixed Site / Single Pitch Canyon Guide is a certification available to individuals who guide no more than three canyons that all have similar characteristics, hydrology and emergency response requirements; with simple, straight-forward anchors and rigging (single-point natural anchors, bolted anchors, basic deadman anchors).

Level 2 guides may be trained and certified by any CGI Certified Guide, Level 3 or higher. Certification may be awarded based on instructor evaluation during a Level 2 training course or by challenging a Level 2 assessment.

The knowledge and skills assessed for Level 1 and 2 are listed in the Competencies Checklist.

Level 3 Pro Canyon Guide

CGI certified Pro Canyon Guides are individuals who have attained and demonstrated a high level of technicalcompetence 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.

Level 3 guides may be trained and certified by CGI Certified Instructors/Evaluators who are CGI Certified Guides, Level 3 or higher. Certification may be awarded based on instructor evaluation during a Level 3 training course or by challenging a Level 3 assessment.

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.

Level 4 guides are nominated by peers who are CGI Certified Guides, Level 3 or higher. Certification may be awarded based on a series of special evaluations conducted by a minimum of three (3) CGI Certified Guides, Level 3 or higher. Master Canyon Guides must demonstrate proficiency in all core guiding skills, plus both Aquatic Skills and Slot Canyon Skills.

Certification - Step by Step

ASPIRING GUIDES — 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.

STEP 1 - Become a Member

NOTE: Be sure to create a member profile on our website and keep it current. Reviewing your profile will be part of the application process. Your profile also provides an opportunity for you to present yourself and your services to potential clients who visit our website.

STEP 2 - Complete Onboarding

Follow our New Member Onboarding process, along with guidance from your personal coach to complete all of the requirements for certification, including:

- online knowledge exam
- hands-on skills assessments
- in-canyon guiding assessments
- peer reviews