Wilderness Training: Academic Requirements, Professional Outlook

Wilderness Training

Wilderness Training is designed to help professionals and others to better manage their wilderness experiences. Many people work and play in the wilderness, and they need to be able to respond to emergencies and the unexpected in a responsible and competent manner. Wilderness Training is important for anyone who has extensive contact with remote outdoor areas.

The Academic Requirements

Coursework may include an introduction to concepts in recreation, nature, and wilderness, including why humans are drawn to the outdoors. Students will be introduced to hazards that may be encountered in specific habitats while outdoors, and there will likely be hands-on training, such as climbing with ropes, caving, glacier hiking, and the like. Some courses include sections on reading maps and compasses, or using "nature's compasses," such as the stars, sun, and geological markers.

Courses are physically and mentally challenging but can also be a lot of fun. Expect to spend a good bit of time outdoors, in all kinds of conditions. Some courses are taught as overnight camping and hiking trips. Many courses also include a First Responder course in emergency wilderness first aid. Wilderness First Responder certification is required for many jobs; make sure that your course is accredited so that you can apply it to employment.

Here are some courses that we've seen:

  • Desert Canyons, Mountains and Rivers of the Big Bend
  • Winter Ecology of the Northern Rockies
  • Canyonlands of the Colorado Plateau
  • Coast, Forest, Mountains: Olympic Peninsula
  • Restoration Ecology in Greater Yellowstone
  • The Alaskan Rain Forest: Ecology & Policy of the Tongass
  • Integrating Tradition Knowledge in a Modern World
  • Montana Afoot and Afloat
  • Wilderness Medicine
  • Winter Wilderness Field Studies
  • Introduction to Outdoor Education
  • Wilderness First Responder
  • Wilderness Expedition
  • Coastal Kayaking
  • Marine Safety Instructor Certification
  • Swift Water Rescue
  • Ice Climbing
  • Mountaineering

Professional Outlook

Wilderness Training is designed to help people who work in extreme outdoor conditions to do their jobs. The training can be used in a variety of settings; for example, ecotour leaders, camp counselors, park rangers, and fire ecologists may use Wilderness Training during their day-to-day duties. Wilderness Training helps workers to prepare for routine wilderness experiences as well as for the unexpected (including injuries, getting lost and getting caught in very bad weather).

People who teach Wilderness Training for a living can expect rigorous working conditions with some exposure to dangerous conditions. Trainers need to be vigilant while working to ensure the safety of their students and themselves. Trainers often work for a company which offers classes on a regular basis to groups of interested students or clients. Working hours may include weekend sessions.

Here are some job titles that we've seen, including some of the organizations that offer them, all of which included a requirement for experience in Wilderness Training:


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