How To Become An Expedition Leader

The ability to be adaptable and determined are paramount in all jobs in the outdoor adventure industry. You never know what will happen next.


Generally, to work in the outdoor and adventure industry, there’s only two things you actually need. Note this down:

  1. Passion
  2. Determination

That’s it. 

Once you’ve got those two things ticked off, you’re halfway on your journey towards a rewarding career that combines passion for adventure and travel. Now all you need to do is a find a reputable company that runs outdoor adventure training courses, get key certifications, and get some experience on your belt. Let’s talk through each of these areas.

Finding and choosing a training company

This is often overlooked but is the most important step. Where do you search for a course, and what kind of course are you searching for? Our suggestion? Work backwards.

What do you want to do when you complete your course? Do you want to run mountaineering trips through unknown territory? Do you want to run group expeditions in Borneo and helping endangered animals? Or perhaps you want to project manage Water Sports camps? Whatever you want to do, browse websites like Explorers Connect Jobs for more ideas and choose your dream job.

Once you’ve got some ideas, reach out directly to organisations. Tell them your plans, and don’t be afraid to ask them what training would help you get a job with them, or what specific skills you will require. Explore their recommendations and if they mention specific terminology like ‘expedition leadership training courses’ or mountain leader courses then Google away!

Obtaining key certifications

When looking for jobs in the industry, there will be some key must-have skills you need. Make sure you’re aware of these and you’ve got the right skills before you set out on your job hunt. For example, a reputable expedition training courses will set you up with:

  • Mountain Leader Training
  • Remote First Aid / Remote Emergency Care
  • RLSS Water Safety
  • Offsite Safety Management
  • …and more.

As with any purchasing decision, read reviews or speak to past attendees of the course. It’s a big investment. Get the answers. If possible, try and get on the phone with those that lead the course, they’ll know if it’s right for you. They are also the people that will be helping you develop your leadership skills, and helping you push yourself to improve all the way. 

Getting experience

Finally, it’s the age old conundrum. You’ve bust a gut, risked your life in the jungle, and sweat out everything for your new certifications. Now what? Real life practical experience is crucial to breaking into the industry BUT nobody will give you a job. Don’t give up your search:

Get MORE experience – You can never have enough of it. If you’re after a job running extreme expeditions, ask if you can start as an ‘assistant leader’. Lend a spare pair of hands and get experience assisting and shadowing as many experienced leaders as possible.

Show off your experience – Your lengthy, well-researched course will already have contained plenty of hands-on experience and a majority of time leading your own expedition. Show off this experience on your CV. Remember that your soft skills such as group management, conflict resolution and expedition planning are just as impressive as your hard skills (river crossings, jungle survival and cave rescue).


James Catterall via Gapforce

Gapforce run the legendary Trekforce Expedition Leadership Training Course, popular with famous past adventurers including Bruce Parry and Ed Stafford. For specific advice on Expedition Leadership Training, email James at [email protected] or call Gapforce on 0207 384 3028.