SOP Variance Process

For AMGA Professional Members seeking a Variance from the Scope of Practice please identify and select the type of Variance below that you wish to apply for.

Please see the Scope of Practice Variance Request Process document approved by the AMGA Board of Directors on May 15th, 2022 for information on the variance process, criteria for each variance, the appeals process, and the roles and responsibilities of those involved in processing and handling applications and appeals. For specific questions reach out to the AMGA Variance Manager at [email protected]

When submitting an application, be prepared with your AMGA member number, relevant information about your employer and employment situation, as well as other supporting information as it relates to the type of variance applying for:

  • Individual Educational Variance: An individual working for an Educational Organization
  • Bridge Variance – Two Year “bridge period” for experienced members
  • “Other” Variance – For requests that do not fit into the above

1) Individual Educational Variance

For individuals working at an outdoor education organization seeking a variance. Please be advised that if approved, the Individual Educational Variance will expire two years after the approval date, at which time the individual instructor or guide who still meets the criteria will be required to reapply. 

Required Criteria: For an individual to obtain a variance from the AMGA Scope of Practice (SOP), the Educational Organization for whom they work must meet the following criteria:

  • The organization must not be an AMGA Accredited Business.
  • The organization is a registered nonprofit, and/or Accredited by the Association for Experiential Education (AEE)
  • The primary focus/mission of the organization must be education and not a guiding business as outlined in the SOP framework.
  • There must be an internal staff training process at the educational organization for the relevant terrain in which the individual guide or instructor will be working.
  • Variances are intended for ski, alpine, and multi-pitch rock terrain. All other requests may be considered via the “Other” Variance application.

The organization must have a comprehensive Risk Management Plan that covers at a minimum the following: Example doc

  • A Serious Incident and Fatality Response Plan
  • Emergency Communications Plan
  • Emergency response documents for field instructors and Admin.
  • Incident reporting policies and clear procedures for documentation of incidents.

Definition of an Educational Organization: 

An educational organization is defined as any organization that is not organized for profit, whose primary purpose is to educate and develop the capabilities of individuals through instruction by means of operating as a school, academy, college, university, etc., and is not a guiding business.

2) Bridge Variance

The Bridge Variance is a two-year “bridge period” running from July 1st, 2022 to July 1st, 2024. The bridge period recognizes those individuals who have guided/instructed continuously in a specific terrain and would grant those approved an additional two years to take AMGA training to meet the Scope of Practice (SOP) requirements. After the bridge period, any individuals granted a Bridge Variance will be required to work within the SOP.

Required Criteria: 

The Guide or Instructor has worked every year in the specific terrain since prior to January 1st, 2008 as stands for Tenured Guides working for Accredited Businesses.

The Guide or Instructor can document and legally verify:

  • 25 annual guiding days in terrain for which the variance is requested
  • 2 days of documented annual training in each terrain type for the terrain in which a variance is requested
  • During the bridge period, Guides or Instructors must maintain AMGA professional membership.
  • If approved, the member must agree to pursue formal AMGA training consistent with the SOP for the terrain they wish to guide/instruct.
  • If approved for this Variance, members must continue to abide by the AMGA Brand Use Policy, and may not use any specific AMGA branded titles for marketing purposes beyond what they have earned via AMGA programs. I.e. Unless the individual has passed an AMGA Rock Guide Exam to become certified, they may not use the title AMGA Rock Guide.

3) “Other” Variance Requests:

It is recognized that not all guiding situations may be known and that there may be situations where a guide, instructor, and/or a business believes there is a need to work outside of the Scope of Practice (SOP). Please be advised that if approved for a variance, there will be an expiration date and there may be stipulations for the variance.

Reasons not accepted for a Variance: The following is a non-exhaustive list of reasons that will NOT be accepted for a variance to SOP.

  • Haven’t taken the appropriate course yet.
  • Just want to guide one route and have guided it “X” number of times.
  • Have taken other non-AMGA training courses.
  • I don’t meet the prerequisites for the “blank” course.
  • Was injured last year, had planned to take the “blank” course this year.
  • My employer is asking me to guide outside of SOP.
  • Just joined the AMGA recently.
  • Didn’t know about SOP.
  • Courses are expensive.
  • Don’t have time to take AMGA course(s).