Kurdistan Secret Compass expedition leader Hetty

WANT TO BE AN EXPEDITION LEADER?

follow these tips to get started

Written by Secret Compass

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.

Mountain leader scheme

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:

  • Mountain Training
  • Group management
  • Navigation
  • Equipment
  • Weather forecasting
  • Liability and legal requirements
  • Emergency procedures

Following the course, once you’ve gained a two-day first-aid qualification and Plas-y-Brenin Logoclocked 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:

  • Plas y Brenin
  • Glenmore lodge
  • Tollymore
Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor
Secret Compass team gather around on Ethiopian adventure

Further National Governing Body awards

Once you have attained your ML, you can go onto develop your key skills by undertaking other award schemes. Common examples are: Winter ML (WML) – specifically looks at winter skills necessary in the UK hills International ML (IML) – required for working as a mountain leader in parts of Europe such as the Alps Swiftwater or whitewater rescue technician course. Useful for conducting river crossings or for expeditions that may involve activities such as pack-rafting Mountain Bike Leader award.

First aid courses

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:

Off-site safety management

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.

Ethiopia expedition member using a GPS radio
Madagascar team planning with a map

Finding work in adventure

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.

The Journal

Terms and Conditions
  1. One entry per person.
  2. Closing date for entries is 12:00 AUG 3.
  3. Entrants must be at least 18 years old.
  4. The prize includes: two weekend tickets to attend The Adventure Travel Film Festival in North London The prize does not include: meals, paying workshops, camping equipment or travel expenses.
  5. Getting to the venue in London is the responsibility of the winner.
  6. The prize is only available from 11th – 13th August 2017.
  7. The prize cannot be exchanged for a cash alternative.
  8. The prize cannot be sold or used by anyone other than the winner.
  9. The prize winner can choose who they will give the second ticket to and all of the terms and conditions here apply to that person.
  10. The promoter reserves the right to provide an alternative prize of similar value should the specified prize become unavailable for any reason.
  11. Neither the Promoter nor any other person or party associated with this promotion shall be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever suffered (including, but not limited to, indirect or consequential loss or damage) or personal injury or death suffered or sustained in connection with either participation in this promotion or with any prizes offered.
  12. The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the terms of this prize and without notice in the unlikely event of a major catastrophe, war, earthquake or any anticipated or alleged breach of any applicable law or regulation or any similar event or if circumstances arise outside of its control.
  13. The winner will be selected randomly by Secret Compass on 04 AUG 2017.
  14. Attempts will be made to notify the winner using the email address provided at the time of entry. If the promoter, having used reasonable efforts, is unable to contact the winner, then the prize is forfeited and further draw(s) may be conducted.
  15. The winner may be required to take part in reasonable publicity as specified by the Promoter.
  16. The Promoter cannot be held liable for IT system failures or delays or loss of entries.
  17. The organiser reserves the right to cancel this competition, or to change any condition of this competition, without notice.
  18. Acceptance of these terms and conditions is a condition of entry.
  19. No purchase necessary.