Outdoor Activity Instructor Training

Image of person who wrote the blog.
John Boyce, Gartan OETC

Outdoor Activity Instructor training is just one of the many specialised training courses provided by our Further Education and Training (FET) Service but what is an outdoor activity instructor and what does this course involve? In our first January blog, Course Coordinator John Boyce tells us more about it.

What is an outdoor activity instructor?

An outdoor activity instructor teaches skills in activities like hill walking, climbing, canoeing, kayaking, mountain leadership, orienteering and sailing. To find out more about outdoor education itself, read this previous blog written by Gartan Director Marty McCann.

Outdoor activity instructor training

Two people windsurfing on a lake One of the best ways to train to be an outdoor activity instructor in Ireland is through the completion of this traineeship, one of very few offered around the country, as it provides a comprehensive education in all aspects of this sector. It has long been a popular course with those interested in pursuing a career in adventure sports and enjoy working outdoors. The course combines practical training, which is nationally certified by a range of different National Governing Bodies (NGBs), all of which is grounded in practical work experience.

Eight weeks of work placement is a key element of the course as it provides you with the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge you develop throughout the course in a live working environment. This is also an opportunity to develop and grow your network in the industry, with the potential to convert your work placement into paid employment.

Course modules

People kayaking on a lake. This action-packed course provides a wide variety of qualifications. These include Kayak Level 1 and Kayak Level 2 qualifications certified by Canoeing Ireland, along with Dinghy Instructor, National Powerboat Certificate and GO Windsurfing qualifications all certified by the Irish Sailing Association (ISA). Additional areas of study include Mountain Skills, PHECC First Aid, Child Welfare and Protection along with qualifications in River Safety and Rescue training also certified by Canoeing Ireland. The qualifications are very well regarded locally, nationally and internationally.


There are multiple benefits in completing this course (apart from the obvious benefit of becoming a fully trained outdoor activity instructor!). Students build on their technical skills and abilities as well as soft skills including improved confidence and resilience levels as well as learning to operate and respond in ever-changing and challenging environments, with health and safety always at the forefront when making decisions. The ability to forecast, make informed decisions and communicate more effectively with your teammates and further develop your leadership skills and emotional regulation are all key skills that employers in every industry value – this course can really bring you on in your own personal and professional development.

If you don’t believe me (!), one of last year’s students, Stephen McNamee, who completed the course with his son Ryan and has moved onto a course in Stand Up Paddleboarding and Mountain Biking (Trail Cycle Leader) to further his skills, tells his story here.

People diving into the water. Progression

Progression opportunities from this course include both full and part-time employment or setting up your own business or progression to further or higher education.

Fifty percent of last year’s class progressed to another FET course, 17% moved onto degree courses at third level and 33% moved onto full-time employment within the outdoor sector.

This course is now open for applications – you can apply online here.

This course is funded by the European Union – NextGenerationEU.