THE FIRST ASCENT OF JANHUKOT
three Brits summit in the heart of Indian Garwhal Himalaya
We often get asked how to get in to the adventure travel industry and how to become an expedition leader. Here’s some general advice on standard and widely recognised courses and training opportunities in the UK, plus other courses designed to enhance the existing leadership skills of current expedition staff.
While courses are a fantastic way to develop your expedition leadership credentials, experience is also incredibly important. When it’s time to then look for work, the end of this post includes suggestions as to where to find it.
The first step for most is to get a Mountain Leader Award. This is available at many respected providers throughout the UK; certified individuals can also deliver it. The award builds on existing mountain walking experience with a minimum requirement of having spent 20 ‘quality mountain days’ first. This, generally residential, six-day training course introduces:
Following the course, once you’ve gained a two-day first-aid qualification and clocked up 40 mountain days (preferably leading or accompanying groups though this is not obligatory), you can apply for the Mountain Leader assessment, which takes a further five days and is booked and paid for as a separate entity. Places to consider this course include:
Once you have attained your ML, you can go on to develop your key skills by undertaking other award schemes. Common examples are:
The above all require a two-day (16 hour) first-aid course as a minimum which covers the basics of first aid, resuscitation and regulation within the outdoor environment. There are many other courses available that deliver more advanced or specific level of training for the wilderness environment, from the Rescue Emergency Care system (Levels 1-4), Wilderness First Aid, or Far from Help courses, to the more advanced Medicine in Remote Area (MIRA), or Wilderness Emergency Technician Course.
Places to consider these courses include:
The Offsite Safety Course is a must for those involved in planned visits in the UK or overseas. Spread over two days, it offers an in-depth look at the safety management issues involved in planning, managing and evaluating local visits, field trips, residentials and exchanges. While focused at educational establishments, the principles underlying the course are relevant for adventurous activities.
Consider other skills and experiences which you can bring to your professional CV. Many expedition leaders will cover a range of environments and activities to some extent, alongside more specialist knowledge of their chosen focus. These experiences can be gained through extra courses, personal travel and sports or working as an assistant guide in new environments. Secret Compass even has incredibly experienced and qualified expedition leaders join teams as customers to broaden their experience base. If you’re just starting out in the industry, you may even find a new activity to love which you’d never tried before, such as packrafting – with this in mind our Adventure Academy trips aim to offer diverse and interesting activities in beautiful or remote environments.
A great place to then look for work as an expedition leader is either with individual adventure companies (World Challenge, Outlook Expeditions, Far Frontiers, British Exploring Society, Intrepid, Secret Compass etc) or on the brilliant Explorers Connect (EC) website. This Bristol and London-based organisation (with global reach online) is a great place to find adventure jobs, training, professionals, opportunities and adventure-related weekends and social events.