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How to Become a Climbing Wall Instructor

Take your rock wall climbing interest to the next level by becoming certified to show others the ropes

Your climbing hobby could be a source of extra cash. First, contact rock walls in your area to find out which certification their owners prefer. Nationally recognized certifying courses are offered by the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), the Professional Climbing Instructors Association (PCIA), the Climbing Wall Association (CWA), and other organizations. Programs cover climbing and safety skills, technical knowledge, and instructional methods.

Prerequisites: The PCIA requires that candidates demonstrate adequate experience and knowledge of basic skills, regardless of the length of time it took to pick up those skills. The CMA and AMGA state that climbing wall instructor (CWI) candidates need to have climbed 20 or more times, whether indoors or outdoors, and have no less than one year of personal climbing experience. Minimum age requirements vary.

What you’ll be able to do: A CWI can teach general climbing skills, proper belaying and leading techniques, bouldering, and spotting at indoor climbing facilities. “When you start climbing, you learn basic rock-climbing skills, but it’s a whole different skill set to be able to teach other people in effective ways, and you get a lot of practice doing that during the certification process.” says Daniel Ezell, an AMGA-certified CWI at Baylor University’s Fitness Center in Waco, TX.