Choose Your Path to 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:

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.

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.

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 made 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

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.

STEP 1 - Join Canyon Guides International

NOTE: Certification is not required for Membership, but Membership is required for Certification.

Joining will grant you access to the Certification Checklist and other documents you will need to complete the process for Certification.

If you prefer to download the documents prior to committing to become a member you can use the FREE Startup Registration.

Your Startup status will remain valid for six months to give you sufficient time to complete the certification requirements. If you do not complete the requirements before your Startup status expires, you should upgrade to the Professional Membership level to retain active status.

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STEP 2 - Complete the Requirements

Use the Certification Checklist as your guide for completing all of the requirements for certification, including:

    • online knowledge exam
    • hands-on skills assessment
    • letters of recommendation
    • canyon resume

    There is no specified order for completing the requirements. Once you feel you have completed all the requirements the final step will be to submit an application for certification, along with supporting documentation.

Professional Canyon Guide Certification Levels

CGI offers professional certification assessments at four levels:

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 Isassi

CGI Pro Member

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.

Level 1 Guides can be trained and certified by any CGI certified guide, Level 2 or higher.

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.

Level 2 Guides can be trained by any CGI certified guide, Level 2 or higher, but can only be certified by CGI Certified Instructors.

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.

Level 3 Guides can only be trained and certified by CGI Certified Instructors who are Level 3 or higher.

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 can only be certified by CGI Certified Instructors who are Level 4.

Our Spirit of Giving

Canyoneering Karma is a social media group and more. It is also the theme for a series of ongoing service projects and it is a mindset – using canyoneering as a vehicle for making a difference in the lives of people.

Canyons are magical places of stone and water that captivate and inspire visitors. It is common for those who experience it to realize profound changes in the way they relate to the natural world and how they choose to live their lives.

Canyon Guides International is proud to partner with Canyoneering Karma on numerous projects. We invite all of our members to join and become involved with the Canyoneering Karma Meetup Group and the Canyoneering Karma Facebook Group.

CGI Certified Guides and Instructors are welcome to post their events on both groups if the events are intended to serve populations in need or if discounts are available to individuals who provide financial support for Canyoneering Karma.