sunset over mountainsTRAINING STRUCTURE

The Wilderness Education Association (WEA) supports the following levels of Outdoor Education instruction:


The goal of the Outdoor Leadership Training Course (OLTC) is to expose students to the WEA Educational Components and provide a model of WEA teaching styles. This program provides a certificate of completion.


Certified Outdoor Leaders are equipped to: 

  • Demonstrate a basic standard of outdoor knowledge and expertise.
  • Plan and deliver a high-quality wilderness experience 
  • Model responsible minimum impact practices
  • Exercise good judgment and effective decision-making across a range of program settings

Students who successfully complete this program receive a certificate.


COEs are professional instructors or guides and make their living in the industry. A COE might work at a university, a guiding company, or a wilderness therapy camp, or might serve as program director at a summer camp. A COE could also be a high-level recreational leader, such as a scoutmaster or church group leader, who regularly takes out novices in order to impart a love of the wilderness and a sense of personal responsibility to the outdoors.

A Certified Outdoor Educator can teach for a WEA Accredited Organization or any WEA Organizational Member. COEs can teach the WEA Outdoor Leader Training Course and the Certified Outdoor Leader program while working with an approved WEA organization. Each COE can also work to become a Certifying Examiner. 

Completion of the requirements of the COE credential results in certification.


Those who achieve CE status have demonstrated a high level of mastery of the six educational components as demonstrated through various work or apprentice experiences. These professionals can use formal assessment and evaluation strategies to teach the COE course through a WEA-Accredited program. Prerequisite: Outdoor Educator Certification.


The Credential Manual is undergoing revision. If interested contact the National Office.