Skip to main content

At Backcountry Babes, our mission is to inspire more women into leadership roles in the outdoors.  Many aspiring instructors ask me….how do I become an AIARE instructor? How can I teach AIARE Courses for Backcountry Babes?

To answer these questions, I made a flow chart describing a path to becoming an AIARE Course Instructor.  A Course Instructor always works with an AIARE Lead Instructor who has more training and experience.

So to you, aspiring AIARE Course Instructor…I say GO FOR IT!! No need to delay, no need to wait until you have more experience, meanwhile letting less experienced people take leadership roles. Studies have shown that women are likely to wait until they meet 100% of the qualifications before applying for a job,  while men go for it with 60% of the qualifications.

Don’t wait until you’re 100% qualified to start on the process of becoming an instructor.

As owner of Backcountry Babes, I can only contract people who have fulfilled the AIARE instructor requirements before they can instruct an AIARE Course with us.   I’ll also say that 5 years experience backcountry skiing is a lot…and if you only have 2-4 years experience backcountry skiing, you might as well get started on your fluency in the AIARE curriculum.   Don’t delay any longer!

Flow Chart How to Become an AIARE Avalanche Course Instructor

1.A qualification for becoming an AIARE instructor is a minimum of 5 years personal experience with leadership and decision making in backcountry avalanche terrain.  If you only have 3 years experience, it will probably take you 2 years to meet the other qualifications— so start the other qualifications now, don’t wait.

2. To become an AIARE instructor, you must have familiarity and fluency in the AIARE Curriculum.  Therefore you must participate or shadow an AIARE Level 1, 2, and Rescue Course within the last 4 years.  Want to shadow a Backcountry Babes Course?  Email [email protected] to ask about apprenticeship opportunities.

3.  The Pro 1 Certificate is the AIARE Avalanche Level 2 for people on the professional track. The course includes an evaluation component.  If you’ve taken an AIARE Level 2 already, you can bridge to a Pro 1 Certificate with a 2-day evaluation through AIARE called the Pro 1 Bridge Exam.

3. The 5-day AIARE Instructor Training teaches prospective instructors how to teach the AIARE curriculum.  It includes instruction and an evaluation component by AIARE instructor trainers.  It’s offered about four times a year. AIARE Instructor Course Schedule

4. Become a member of American Avalanche Association or other professional avalanche association.  Also, make sure your AIARE membership is up-to-date.  

See our 2017-2018 Course Calendar for courses in your area: Breckenridge, Vail, Truckee, Tahoe, or Anchorage to shadow or get started as a participant. Or, just for your own personal education!! We’d love to have you join us on one of our avalanche courses.

This info is drawn from and interpreted by me! Please feel free to chime in with additional comments and questions.  I can update any inaccuracies or details.  To read directly from AIARE, please see 2017 AIARE Recreational Avalanche Instructor and Course Leader Qualifications

NOTE: Many times the Pro 1 Courses are offered at the end of a winter season for a deeper/more interesting snowpack.  Meanwhile, the Instructor Training Courses are offered at the beginning of a winter season.  That means you won’t be able to become a qualified AIARE instructor in ONE WINTER.  So, if you’re thinking about becoming an AIARE instructor, sign up for the Pro 1 course ASAP, THIS WINTER, don’t delay. You’ll get plenty more experience before you are qualified to instruct (plus you’ll always be paired with a course leader who is extremely experienced.)

Not Done Yet! Like everything in avalanche education…you don’t just check a bunch of boxes and call it done. Avalanche Education is a life-long learning process.  Click here to see more about Required and Recommended Continuing Professional Development for Avalanche Instructors.


  • Amy says:

    The frustrating thing is only 3 pro 1 courses are being offered this and two are in late March. This prevents you from completing a pro 1 course and instructor training in one season.

    • bcbabes says:

      Good point Amy, thank you for bringing this up! If you’re thinking about becoming an instructor…sign up for your Pro 1 course THIS WINTER so you can enroll in the instructor training NEXT WINTER. Also Pro 1 courses tend to fill up really quickly…so checking often to see when they post the Pro 1 training (usually in August) is a good idea.

      I could revise the flow chart to include this level of planning ahead…”as soon as you think about becoming an AIARE instructor you should enroll in your Pro 1 course!” Don’t wait until you feel super qualified, comfortable, prepared. You’ll have time to gather more experience during the time it takes to meet all the qualifications; which will probably be multiple winter seasons.

      Amy, are you becoming an instructor?!! That would be great news.