Teaching Avalanche Skills Training (AST) Courses

Teaching Avalanche Skills Training (AST) Courses

We often field inquiries on how to become an AST instructor. Below is some important information. 

The Avalanche Skills Training (AST) program is administered by the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC). The AST curriculum was created and continues to be updated by the CAC. The CAC takes care of licensing AST instructors, communicating with AST instructors (via newsletters and emails) and shipping AST materials to instructors. The CAC licenses only CAA "Active" or "Professional" members, not organizations, to instruct AST.

NEW! CAC/AST Partnership: (Click this link to read the memorandum in its entirety).

The AST program has matured and is now estimated to be an industry that generates $1.5 million in revenues with profits accruing solely to AST providers. In 2013-14, the CAC will formalize a partnership with AST providers and is asking them to make a financial contribution to help offset some of the costs incurred by the CAC in promoting, administering, and supporting the AST program (estimated to be approximately $45,000/year). As partners, AST providers will also contribute some of the funds required to renew AST Intellectual Property such as the AST curriculum, which has cost at least $80,000 to develop to date and which will require ongoing renewal in the future.
For the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, the financial contribution amounts to the equivalent of:

  • $6.25/student for the first 300 AST 1 and 2 students  
  • $4.50/student for additional AST 1 and 2 students
  • $3.00/student for CRS students

Credit will be given for CAC sponsorships or CAF donations. Of contributions received, 84% will be used to pay for a portion of promotion, administration, and resource support and 16% will be used to create an Intellectual Property Renewal Fund. 

AST instructors must meet the following minimum requirements:

For teaching Avalanche Skills Training Level 1:

  1. Be an “Active” member of the CAA
  2. Successful completion of the CAA Industry Training Program (ITP) Avalanche Operations Level 1 course (Ski, Snowmobile or Educators)

 For teaching Avalanche Skills Training Level 2:

  1. Be a “Professional” member of the CAA
  2. Successful completion of the CAA Industry Training Program (ITP) Avalanche Operations level 2 course (Ski  or Snowmobile)
  3. Experience in teaching the Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 or the Introductory Recreational Avalanche Course curriculum, or an equivalent course
  4. The instructor must have suitable training in instructional techniques and the knowledge, skill and experience to safely lead a group in terrain suitable for the Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 or Avalanche Skills Training Level 2 courses.

Requirements for AST instructors include:

  1. New licensees to the AST program must have shadowed a minimum of one AST course with an experienced AST instructor. A referral letter/email from the mentor should accompany the license agreement.
  2. All AST providers must have liability insurance. Here is information on Liability Insurance FAQ and information on the CAA liability insurance policy.
  3. All instructors need to stay up-to-date with CPD

To learn more about CAA membership and access the application, go to: http://www.avalanche.ca/caa/members/join-the-caa.

Starting with the 2013-14 season, only AST "Providers" will sign the Provider Agreement (this is a new document, amalgmating the two previous licenses, to be distributed this summer). A "Provider" is an individual, company, organization or other entity that delivers AST courses to the public, either directly (e.g. an individual instructor) or indirectly (e.g. an entity that hires instructors). Individual instructors employed by these organizations will not have to submit a license agreement (as in the past).

 Required materials:

There are required materials to teach AST. These include:

  1. Instructor Manual and companion CD (available for both AST 1 and AST 2). Instructor Manual available for CRS.
  2. Required student material includes certificates, waivers, Backcountry Avalanche Awareness book and Avaluator (for AST 1). There is no required student handbook for AST 2, however, Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain is highly recommended, as is the Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain fieldbook.

For more information, or to license, please contact Nancy Geismar at ngeismar@avalanche.ca.