A Brief Guide to ACA Instructor Certification

We often get asked about instructor certification and so we thought we should try to explain the process as briefly as we can. The ACA website has a wealth of information on it but it may appear overwhelming for those that are new to the process. The Instructor Criteria are described in detail but a summary here may be helpful. The process is slightly different for each paddlesports discipline:

Coastal Kayak (Sea Kayak) Instructor

The highest entry point for Coastal Kayak Instructor Certification is Level 3.

Instructor Certification is effectively a 5-step process:

  1. You need to become a member of the ACA.
  2. You need to pass a Level 3 Coastal Kayak Skills Assessment. This is a one-day assessment of your skills and technical knowledge and is required because we need to ensure instructor candidates have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience before they begin the instructor certification program.
  3. The next step is a three-day Instructor Development Workshop (IDW). The focus of this course is the coaching process – how we learn and thus how we should teach. This course prepares you for:
  4. The three-day Instructor Certification Exam (ICE).
  5. For your certification to be valid you must also have current First Aid and CPR certification appropriate for the age of the participants you will be teaching and the environment you will be teaching in.

Stand-Up-Paddleboard (SUP) Instructor

The highest entry point for SUP Instructor Certification is Level 2.

SUP Instructor Certification is effectively a 4-step process:

  1. You need to become a member of the ACA.
  2. You need to pass a Level 2 SUP Skills Assessment, or have equivalent skills. This is a one-day assessment of your skills and technical knowledge and is required because we need to ensure instructor candidates have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience before they begin the instructor certification program. You do NOT have to have completed a Level 2 Skills Assessment, but you should be able to demonstrate all of the skills listed in the assessment criteria AND be fully conversant with the nomenclature.
  3. The next step is a three-day Instructor Certification Workshop (ICW). The focus of this course is the coaching process – how we learn and thus how we should teach. It is a combined development workshop and certification exam. If you are successful you may be certified at the end of the course. To have a reasonable chance of being successful, you will need to begin the course with solid Level 2 skills and some teaching experience.
  4. For your certification to be valid you must also have current First Aid and CPR certification appropriate for the age of the participants you will be teaching and the environment you will be teaching in.

It may seem like there are a lot of hoops to jump through but in reality, the ACA Instructor Certification program is MUCH more streamlined (and therefore more affordable and less time consuming) than most other national governing body’s programs.

To find instructor certification programs being offered in the US and internationally check the ACA Calendar. At River & Ocean we offer instructor training and certification courses in Coastal Kayak, SUP, Surf Kayak and Surfski. River & Ocean’s founder Sean Morley is an ACA Level 4 Coastal Kayak Instructor Trainer.

CONTACT us if you have any questions.