Use these links to navigate through this page and to review the information regarding the process to pursue recognition as a Certified Outdoor Educator.

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The Certified Outdoor Educator (COE) 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 their ability to deliver quality outdoor leadership experiences.  In addition, COEs have also demonstrated proficiency in educating, evaluating, and assessing 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).

As skilled leaders in outdoor, environmental education, and recreation programs, Outdoor Educators range from university professors to professional guides with a variety of professions in between. With a passion for the outdoors and appreciation for the wilderness, Outdoor Educators are leaders in their field.

The WEA 6+1 is a focused, standard-based curriculum in the overarching areas of: 1) judgment and decision-making, 2) outdoor living 3) education, 4) leadership, 5) risk management, 6) trip planning/logistics, and 7) environmental integration. All of the training and certification programs of the WEA are grounded in the 6+1 curriculum. The comprehensive nature of the curriculum coupled with the competencies required to obtain the COE credential in the aforementioned 6+1 areas increases the COE’s professional recognition in the outdoor industry.  

Responsibilities of the WEA Certified Outdoor Educator include:

  • Lead WEA Outdoor Leadership Training Courses and Certified Outdoor Leader Programs. Create necessary documentation to run multi-day or multi-week expeditions, including planning proper rations plans, route plans, and emergency action plans.
  • Provide useful feedback to students throughout a course and after a program is completed.
  • Execute curriculum, lesson plans, and assessment/evaluation tools.
  • Take responsibility for risk management in all aspects of programs. 


There are two paths to certification: through an accredited organization or through the professional path. 


Prospective outdoor educators must submit an online portfolio through Foliotek for assessment.  This is an entry into the International Registry of Outdoor Educators and Leaders (IROEL). The portfolio must include evidence of skills as a leader in the outdoors through a variety of artifacts. Outdoor Educators seeking a credential through an Accredited organization will be assessed on a specific rubric outline and evaluated by a WEA Certifying Examiner. Outdoor Educators seeking a credential through the Professional Path will be assessed by members of the Commission on Outdoor Education and Leadership (COEL). Portfolios must provide clear evidence of competency in all of the 6+1 components as well as assessment and evaluation.


Certified Outdoor Educators continue to expand their knowledge as an instructor, lead research-based education and outdoor initiatives and participate in the community as outdoor subject matter experts. 




There are two pathways to approach becoming a Certified Outdoor Educator:

1. I am enrolled in a Certified Outdoor Educator program at an Accredited Organization. Your organization will determine the work and artifacts that you must complete in order to earn the certification. You can find a list of Accredited Organizations here.

2. I am not in an accredited program, but I am currently working or seeking to work in a professional role in the delivery of education and/or recreation programs based in the outdoors. The table below provides a Quick Glance at COE criteria. Click on the following documents for full details on how to achieve certification through this option:

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.

COE Quick Glance

Target Audience  Program directors, university faculty, full-time staff, owner/operators of outdoor programs
Objectives Demonstrate emerging mastery of student learning outcomes 8.0-9.6; Competency in 10.0 Assessment and Evaluation
Minimum Fieldwork Minimum 100 nights of field experience in leadership, training, or as Leader-in-Training in an outdoor program
Curriculum Delivery Structure Accredited Program or Professional Path
Curriculum Content Learning Outcomes 8.0-10.0 Assessment and Evaluation
Medical Qualifications The Certified Outdoor Educator credential is not valid without medical training appropriate for the specific context and setting.
Foliotek Portfolio Artifact upload required
Assessment Comprehensive evaluation of 8.0-10.0 Assessment and Evaluation within the 6+1 standards. Peer Review of Portfolio.
Outcome Certified Outdoor Educator credential
Certification Fee

$30 Application Fee
Either: $125 (Accreditation Path) OR $275 (Professional Path)
Maintain WEA Professional Membership 
Recertification Fee of $150 along with maintenance requirements

Scope of Practice Conduct OLTC and COL courses
Maintenance (includes renewal and/or expiration) Document a minimum of 20 professional days annually
Maintain WEA membership
Maintain Foliotek portfolio (audited annually)
Maintain medical qualifications
Acquire continuing education units with recertification cycle (Initially 3 years, 5 years thereafter)
 *The above chart is a Quick Glance. For full details please view the COE Handout.




Individuals interested in pursuing the Professional Path to become a COE should contact the WEA National Office for enrollment questions or complete the Certified Outdoor Educator Enrollment Application. There is a $30 enrollment fee that initiates the first year of the required Foliotek portfolio account. Once a COE candidate’s portfolio is ready for review, s/he will have a portfolio review team assigned through the Commission on Outdoor Education and Leadership (COEL). The review team will either approve the portfolio, ask for revisions, or deny approval. Once the review team approves the portfolio for certification, the COE candidate will pay the certification fee to finalize the certification process. A digital certificate will be given to verify certification. 




Dates: Friday – Sunday, April 26-28, 2019
Cost: $275 (includes 2 nights lodging and meals during clinic)
Location: Mountain View Lodge, Black Mountain Home West Campus
                 Black Mountain, NC (20 mins east of Asheville, NC)
Duration: 20-hour clinic
Registration: Please click here to register or by calling the National Office at (740) 607-9759



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