AMGA Accreditation



What’s the goal of accreditation?

Accreditation began as a way to bring people together and create a community who were all interested in a professional career in guiding. By defining standards the profession of guiding could be evaluated, improved, and provide a consistent career option.


The goal of accreditation is to support and deliver valuable feedback for guide services, climbing schools, and outdoor programs, by providing a consistent industry standard for judging the reliability and professionalism of the businesses we partner with.


What are the basic requirements of applying for accreditation?

There are two different types of accreditation based on whether the company is a sole proprietorship or a business with employees.


Accredited Businesses:

  • Accredited Businesses must have a commitment to the mission of the AMGA:

To be the leader in education, standards, and advocacy for professional guides and climbing instructors.

  • Accredited Businesses must have been in continuous operation for three full years prior to the time of application.
  • (According to SOP) After July 1, 2022, all staff responsible for clients in the field are trained and or certified by the AMGA for the terrain the staff member works in. Staff members hired before January 1, 2008, are exempt from this requirement;
  • Accredited Businesses must have the appropriate number of AMGA certified guides on staff to meet the accreditation standards for mentoring and supervision.

Accredited Sole Proprietorship/Partnership:

  • This type of accreditation is designed for an individual or partnership.
  • Owners must be certified at one of the following levels. American Mountain Guide/IFMGA Guide, Rock, Alpine, or Ski Guide, Multi-Pitch, Rock, or Ice Instructor.
  • Owners must have been in continuous operation for three full years.
  • These are businesses that do not have employees, hire independent contractors, or utilize guest guides to provide guiding services or climbing instruction.

Accreditation is not limited to the above listed requirements.


What is the process for acquiring and then maintaining accreditation?

The general process for acquiring accreditation begins with a discussion with the Accreditation Manager to review eligibility. This is followed by the business filling out and submitting an application which includes a self-assessment questionnaire to the Accreditation Manager along with supporting documentation. Applicants will then receive feedback from the Accreditation Manager and either be granted accreditation status or a list of items to improve on before accreditation can be granted. A business’s accreditation status is reviewed every 4 years. During that review the business will provide a new self-assessment questionnaire which will be reviewed in comparison to the questionnaire from the last review period. The reviewed businesses must either improve or maintain standards in order to maintain their accreditation status. 

Topics reviewed include:

  • General business practices
  • Risk Management Plan
  • Operating guidelines
  • Access
  • Permits
  • Insurance
  • Employment
  • Guide Training
  • Compliance with state, federal, and local regulations
  • Staff training and professional development
  • Resource stewardship
  • Adherence to current industry standards


Accreditation Manual – Version 2022


Why would a business become accredited?

There are many reasons, but the most common ones include:

  • Motivation to receive feedback on their business and risk management practices (a review by an external party)
  • To receive feedback based on and be held to high industry practices and standards
  • To gain benefits for their guides (guides get 10% discount on courses)
  • To be able to run in-house Mountain Guide Contract Courses (apprentice level courses)


How does being an accredited business affect our guides?

Guides who are employed by an accredited business have to be trained and/or certified by the AMGA in the terrain they work in. Additionally, the business must utilize at least one AMGA Certified Guide/Instructor supervising and running trainings per the terrain that they are certified in.

Indirectly guides may recognize the higher standards/expectations associated with employment from an Accredited Business. That said, Accreditation reviews all aspects of a business and much of that feedback may be related to administrative practices and or legal vulnerability, both of which guides might not always be aware of on the day to day.

Can an individual guide become accredited if they have their own business?

Yes! As alluded to in a previous question, guides or instructors who are certified as: American Mountain Guide/IFMGA Guide, Rock, Alpine, or Ski Guide, Multi-Pitch, Rock, or Ice Instructors can become accredited as a Sole Proprietorship/Partnership. Requirements for this type of accreditation are listed above.

How has the roll out of SOP affected accreditation or vice versa?

The Accreditation program is directly connected to SOP. It is written into the SOP document (first line actually) approved in 2017 that:

“Note: The American Mountain Guide Association (the “AMGA”) Scope of Practice (the “SOP”) applies to all AMGA Professional Members and AMGA Accredited Businesses.”

In reality, all current and future Accredited Businesses are extremely important to the AMGA and SOP directly. They employ many guides and instructors, and support both indirectly and directly the work we do at the AMGA. 

Lastly SOP would not be possible without the hard work of many of our Accredited Business partners. It took many years of work leading up to the passing of the SOP document in 2017. During that time a number of owners and managers of Accredited Businesses were directly involved as board members or committee members drafting the actual language and guidelines of the SOP.

How much does it cost to become Accredited?

Accredited Businesses:

$250 – Annual Business Membership Fee

$750-$1500 – Review Fee, completed every 4 years and based on the number of guides employed

Accredited Sole Proprietorship/Partnership:

$50 – Annual Business Membership Fee

$300 – Review Fee, completed every 4 years

Check out our current Accredited Businesses