sunset over mountainsTRAINING STRUCTURE

The Wilderness Education Association (WEA) supports the following levels of outdoor leadership training and development:

  • Outdoor Leadership Training Course
  • Certified Outdoor Leader
  • Certified Outdoor Educator
  • Certifying Examiner



The goal of the Outdoor Leadership Training Course (OLTC) is to expose students to the WEA Educational Components and provide a model of the WEA approach to teaching and leading in the wilderness. This course provides a certificate of completion (not a certification). 



The COL is a practical, frontline credential, i.e., the Certified Outdoor Leader has received training in and demonstrated competency with the WEA 6+1, and is ready to integrate that training with activity-specific skill development (rock climbing, paddlesports, mountaineering, skiing, etc.). Certified Outdoor Leaders are equipped to: 

  • Plan and deliver a high-quality wilderness experience;
  • Model responsible minimum impact practices; and
  • Exercise good judgment and effective decision-making across a range of program settings.

The COL credential is a certification. Participation in a COL assessment process does not guarantee certification; minimum requirements must be met in order to be eligible for certification.



This credential recognizes the professional qualifications of individuals who work in programs that provide structured training and assessment/evaluation in outdoor leadership development. These professionals are committed to excellence and have proven ability to deliver quality outdoor leadership experiences. In addition, COEs have also demonstrated proficiency to educate, evaluate, and assess outdoor leadership training and development experiences based on the 6+1 standards. The COE is critical to the training and recognition of WEA Certified Outdoor Leaders (COL).

A Certified Outdoor Educator can teach the WEA Outdoor Leadership Training Course and the Certified Outdoor Leader program for any WEA Organizational Member. Each COE can also work to become a Certifying Examiner. 

There are two paths to certification. Certification through an accredited organization or through a professional path. Regardless of the path chosen, the COE must maintain membership with the WEA at the highest level and maintain medical training appropriate for the specific context and setting. Follow the link above for more information. 



Those who achieve CE status have demonstrated a high level of mastery of the WEA 6+1 through in-depth and extensive professional experience. Our Certifying Examiners are integral to the review and approval of Certified Outdoor Educators. Prerequisite: Certified Outdoor Educator.


Course Administration

Courses must be hosted by WEA organizational members. Members can find additional information here.