Professional Interpreter

The Professional Interpreter certification formally recognizes the knowledge, experience and interpretive skill of guides who have been in the profession for at least three years. Professional Interpretive Guides have demonstrated the ability to transform an average walk in the park to a memorable and meaningful experience for visitors.

All individuals wishing to become certified at the professional level must apply for and complete the 6-day Professional Interpreter course, and complete and pass both the written and oral exams with 70% or higher (70% overall and 70% per section of each test).

Tous nos cours de certification sont disponibles en français. Veuillez nous contacter si vous souhaitez en savoir plus.


To become certified as a Professional 3-Season or 4-Season Hiking Guide, you must also successfully complete  the IGA’s 3-Season or 4-Season Group Management Course.


The Professional Interpreter course is an advanced level 6-day (48 hours) course. It is open to anyone interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of interpretation, park management, Canadian Rockies' geology, ecology, land management, and history and is specifically designed for individuals with previous interpretive guiding experience who are interested in advancing their guiding career. If you are newer to the field of interpretive guiding, the Apprentice Interpreter or Interpretive Specialist course may be a better fit.

Please note: You must attend all 6 days of this course if you want to become certified. Please make sure you can attend everything before you register and pay.


The Interpretive Guides Association Professional Interpreter Course is typically offered twice per year – once in the Spring (March-April) and once in the Fall (November). We can also offer these courses in French and Japanese if there are enough applicants. Please contact for more information.


The following topics are covered in lecture and workshop/ field trip format:

  • Geology & Ecology of the Canadian Rocky Mountains
  • Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay Park Management and Local Issues
  • History and Sense of Place
  • Fundamentals of Interpretation


IGA Apprentice Interpreter, Interpretive Specialist or other thematic interpretation training or certification (upon approval).


There are two exams for the PI course; a written one and an oral one. These exams are taken separately and must be completed within 6 months of your course end date.

You must complete the PI course and have attended all 6 days days in order to be eligible to take the exams.

In order to take the exams you will need to register for them in advance. The exams are most often done over zoom (all oral exams will be done over zoom and written exams may also be done in person where possible). There will be three dates available for the oral exam in the 6 months following your course so you can pick the date that works best for you.

If you took the course but did not complete both the written and oral exams within 6 months, you will have to redo the course and pay the course fees.

Check here for upcoming exam dates.


To become certified as a Professional Interpreter you will be assessed on your guiding experience, thematic interpretation understanding, local area knowledge, the completion of our 6-day (48 hour) Professional Interpreter course, a 3-hour written exam and the delivery of a 5-minute thematic interpretive program.

Your guiding experience and thematic interpretation understanding are assessed using the Professional Interpreter’s Points System. In order to be able to take the two PI tests, you must have a minimum of 120 points, and at least 50% of those points must come from direct interpretive work experience. See the table for more details.

If you want to take the course or become certified at the professional level, please read through the application package and complete the application form.

Only individuals who have completed the Professional Interpreter course (100% attendance is mandatory) and have the required experience are eligible to take the exams.

Additionally, to receive your certification at the professional level, you must:

  • Be a current member in good standing (professional dues have been paid and you have at least 10 hours of professional development from the last year).
  • Complete both exams within 6 months of your completed course.
  • Achieve a minimum of 70% on the written exam and oral program project (Note: You must achieve 70% overall as well as 70% on each section of each exam)
  • Adhere to IGA’s code of ethics
PI Points Breakdown 2022


  • Course: $795 plus GST
  • Oral Program Project Assessment: $125 plus GST
  • Written Exam: $75 plus GST

Other Costs:

  • You must be a member of the IGA in order to become certified. Please purchase and pay your membership fees if they are not current and up to date.

Individuals who are certified as a Professional Interpreter and are interested in refreshing their knowledge may sit through sections of the course a second time for a discounted rate when space is available. Contact our office for details.


Please read our Cancellation & Refund Policy if you are planning to sign up for a course.

If you cancel three weeks before the course starting date, you will receive a full refund minus a $30 administration fee and a $45 digital handbook fee.

If you cancel two weeks before the course starting date, you will receive a 50 percent refund minus the $45 handbook fee.

If you cancel with less than 2 weeks notice no refund will be issued.

The interpretive Guides Handbook costs $45 for members, and it is sent out digitally, so once it is sent, we cannot refund you for that cost.

It is important and your responsibility to keep yourself safe, healthy and injury free before a course. Refunds are not given if you fall ill or have an accident that does not allow you to participate. If you are sick on one or more days of the course, have a valid doctor’s note, and immediately get in touch with the instructor we may be able to place you in an alternate course. This however is not always possible and will be based on having an extra space available for you. We run our courses with small margins to keep prices low, so if a space is not available, you will need to re-register and pay.

If the Interpretive Guides Association has to cancel a course due to low numbers, you will have the choice of being given a full refund or transferring your registration for another course.

This policy includes, but is not limited to:

  • illness
  • work changes
  • injury
  • level of interest
  • feeling unprepared
  • transportation challenges
  • internet challenges
  • you slept in
  • incorrect scheduling
  • Your partner or family member falls ill or hurts themselves
  • You could not find child care
  • etc.

Please keep all these reasons in mind when booking and paying for a course. Our ability to offer and run these courses depends on the number of registrants we have. We work hard to keep costs as low as possible for registrants and knowing our participant numbers in advance and guaranteeing these numbers is essential to the operation of this member-based not for profit. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to talk with us before signing up.


We run this course every Spring and Fall. We may be able to offer it other months if we have enough interest so please contact us if you are keen.

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