Each month we take a look at one of the 650 career pathways featured within Indigo. This month we’re exploring the role of an Outdoor Activities Instructor.

Outdoor Activities Instructor

Find out what’s involved in the role from in this excerpt from the career profile on the Indigo Careers module.

So what is an Outdoor Activities Instructor?

Outdoor activities instructors lead groups of people through a range of challenging activities, designed to help them bond, have fun, learn more about themselves and develop new skills.

You will work with people of all ages and backgrounds, including those with disabilities, children with special needs, adult recreation groups, and business professionals. You will be responsible for guiding these groups through a range of activities.

You will also be responsible for checking safety equipment, ensuring that group members are comfortable with each activity, and giving practical demonstrations.


Hours are generally long and irregular, usually falling over evenings and weekends, including bank holidays. Much of the work is seasonal. Part-time hours are commonly available


Many outdoor activities centres are located in the countryside, so a driving licence may be useful in order to travel to and from work with ease. Holding a licence for a passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) may also be helpful. 

You should expect to be working outdoors in all weather conditions.

Type of work 

Long treks may also involve spending evenings away from the centre, camping in a tent. 

Outdoor activities instructors lead groups of people through a range of challenging activities.

Things to consider

Make a difference

You will be helping people to break down boundaries and overcome fear, which will increase their self-reliance and self-confidence.

Meet range of people

You will be working with a wide range of people, from all backgrounds and ages, which will give great diversity to your working days.

Unsocial hours or on call

You will have to work unsociable hours.

Can specialise

Many instructors specialise in a particular discipline, such as canoeing or abseiling.

Very competitive

Although the outdoor leisure industry is growing, there is still a lot of competition for jobs.


Most people have an 3 A Levels and you will need previous experience/passion for the field

No formal academic qualifications are required to work as an outdoor activities instructor and requirements will vary depending on the role and the employer. You will however need a coaching or proficiency qualification in at least one activity. The more activities you can offer the better. These qualifications should be recognised by the relevant national governing body for that activity. Examples include the Sports Leaders UK Basic Expedition Leadership Award (BEL), British Canoeing Level 1 Paddlesport Instructor qualification and the Mountain Training Mountain Leader Award. You would usually need 12 months’ experience in the activity before you can take the courses. There are also full-time college courses and degrees available that provide relevant qualifications.

Candidates are also expected to be able to demonstrate a history of leading and taking responsibility for others. This could be through volunteering at outdoor activities centres, involvement in activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or membership of activity clubs. Experience of youth work, teaching or coaching can also be useful.

You will need to be 18 years old before you can work as an instructor (21 is you will be driving a minibus). If you will be working with children or vulnerable adults you will need to undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. 

Top Tip

A First Aid certificate is required, as is a Life-Saving certificate if your activities are water-based.


Salary progression

Outdoor Activities instructor

As an outdoor activities instructor, you could expect to earn around £16,000 as a starting salary. As your experience grows, this could increase to around £20,000. Once you have reached the level of a more senior instructor, perhaps also developing specialist skills, you could earn up to £30,000.

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