Apprentice Interpreter and Apprentice Hiking Guide

The Apprentice Interpreter certification is obtained upon successful completion of the Apprentice Interpreter (AI) course. To be certified as an Apprentice Hiking Guide, you must also complete the Group Management (GM) course. 

If you would like to become certified as a Hiking Guide, we recommend you take the Apprentice Interpreter and Group Management courses consecutively. We typically organize the courses so the Group Management Course immediately follows the Apprentice Interpreter Course.

Please note: you must register for both the Apprentice Interpreter and Group Management courses separately.

The Interpretive Guides Association currently offers two types of Apprentice Interpreter course. Both are two days (16 hours) in length but vary slightly in content.

The Apprentice Interpreter Course 1 offers 1 day of local natural and cultural history plus one day of interpretation.
The Apprentice Interpreter Course 2 offers two full days of interpretation, including theme development and introduction to program development.

The Apprentice Interpreter certification is intended as a stepping stone to the Professional Interpreter certification. We encourage you to continually learn and improve your guiding skills and knowledge to make interpretive guiding your career.



One day of interpretation and one day of local natural and cultural history

In the Canadian Rockies (Banff, Canmore, Kootenay, Yoho and Jasper), the Apprentice Interpreter course we offer will introduce you to effective interpretation skills, local natural history, cultural history, and national park management. It is a great place to start your journey as an interpretive guide working in this region. While the course is designed for guides who are relatively new to interpretive guiding, it is appropriate for anyone who wants an introduction to these topics and skills.

The Apprentice Interpreter 101 course is currently taught regularly in the following locations and languages:

  • Canmore, Alberta in May, June, November and February. These courses are offered in English, French (if numbers warrant), and Japanese (May or June only)
  • Jasper, Alberta, in May and November. These courses are offered in English and French (if numbers warrant)
  • The Netherlands, in partnership with Voshaar Outdoor & Education. This course is offered in English and Dutch.

We also teach these courses regularly in the following locations when there is a demand.

  • Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • Kimberly, British Columbia
  • Golden, British Columbia
  • Revelstoke, British Columbia
  • East Kootenays of British Columbia

If there is demand, we can offer this course anywhere! Contact us if you would like to bring this course to your area


Day One
Natural History

  • The basics of Canadian Rockies Geology (sedimentation, mountain building, erosion, rock types)
  • Introduction to glaciers and mountain weather
  • Introduction to mountain ecosystems (Typical mountain habitats, species interactions and ecosystem connections)

Cultural History and Park Management

  • Eras of human presence from aboriginal to park creation
  • Evolution of the concept of park- from playground to goal of ecological integrity
  • Current park management issues & initiatives

Day Two

Introduction to Interpretation

  • Introduction to interpretation and thematic communication
  • The basics of effective communication
  • How to build a thematic interpretive program

If you are new to the area and feel like you would benefit from learning a little about the geology, ecology, park management and history of this place before this course, we have a great deal for you.

We are offering anyone taking the Apprentice Interpreter course an incredible discount on our online Basic Knowledge course. Pay for your Apprentice Interpreter course, and you can take the Basic Knowledge course for ½ price.

If you are interested in taking advantage of this offer, please  contact


Two days of interpretation and program development training

We also offer an Apprentice Interpreter course that focuses two full days on thematic interpretation. In this course, you will learn the techniques, practice them and develop an interpretive program you can use in your work. This course is offered on request and has been or will be delivered in:

  • Sault Saint Marie, Ontario 
  • Thunder Bay, Ontario
  • Tofino, British Columbia (This is a 3-day course with one day dedicated to natural and cultural history and two days devoted to thematic interpretation)

If there is demand, we can offer this course anywhere! Contact us if you would like to bring this course to your area

Please note: We can develop a natural and cultural history component of this course in your region if there is a local expert to work with.


Days One and Two
Thematic Interpretation, Theme Building, and Program Development
In this course, we begin with the theory of the 4 qualities of thematic interpretation – T.O.R.E. Once the foundation has been set, we’ll workshop our way through an interpretive program starting with the theme (T). Then we’ll move on to help you make sure your program is organized (O), relevant (R) and enjoyable (E).

This hands-on course focuses on group interaction to help the creativity flow. By working on building your program ideas in a safe group setting you’ll begin to feel comfortable and confident with the materials and be inspired to carry this effective communication process into your daily guiding.

As guides, we are all collectors of knowledge about wildlife, nature, geology, and history.  This course will help you to learn how to share the facts and stories you’ve collected and provide your guests with a meaningful, memorable and quality experience they will carry with them for life.

Day Three (if applicable)
Natural and Cultural History

  • The landscape (geology and geography)
  • Ecology (flora and fauna)
  • Human history
  • Protected places management

Note: We can offer this course in the Canadian Rockies as well. Please contact us at for more information.


The Group Management Course will give you the skills to keep your clients safe and manage your group effectively. 

We offer two types of Group Management courses: 

  1. A 2-day, 3-Season (Spring, Summer and Fall) Course 
  2. A 3-day, 4-Season Group Management Course. 

The 3-Season course is typically offered in May and June, while the 4-Season course is offered in November and February.

Group Management Courses consist of both classroom and field components.

Classroom Instruction includes:

  •  your legal responsibilities as a guide
  •  trip planning
  •  risk management
  •  group management skills.Tea

The field component is an instructional hike where the course instructor will:

  • demonstrate and reinforce the skills covered in the classroom
  • teach on trail group management skills and best practices for day hiking guides in summer, winter or both depending on the course you are taking.
  • You will also be assessed and evaluated on your ability to safely lead a group on a recognized trail during the outdoor component.

All Apprentice Hiking Guides are required to have a minimum 16-hour standard first aid certification to guide in the Summer, Spring and Fall and a 40-hour wilderness first aid certification to guide in the winter.


  • 2-Day Apprentice Interpreter Course: $360
  • 3-Day Apprentice Interpreter Course: $540
  • 3-Season (Spring, Summer, Fall) Group Management Course: $275
  • 4-Season Group Management Course: $410

Note: The Apprentice Interpreter course fee includes a digital copy of the Interpretive Guide’s Handbook and a one-year membership with the Interpretive Guides Association.


Apprentice Interpreter: You must score 70% or higher on each section of the Apprentice Interpreter exam to earn your Apprentice Interpreter certificate. If you do not, you may re-write the exam at the cost of:

  • $65 plus GST for the full exam or
  • $30 plus GST for each section

Group Management: During the course, participants will be assessed and evaluated in five main areas:

  • Group Management
  • Risk Assessment and Management
  • Movement on the Trail
  • Personal Presentation and Interpretation


To maintain an active certificate, you must:

  • Pay the Interpretive Guides Association membership dues yearly.
  • Complete a minimum of 10 hrs of continuing professional development (CPD) per year.

Read more about CPD requirements in this document: Continuing Professional Development (CPD)


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.

If you are sick on one or more days of the course, you must prove your sickness (i.e. a doctor’s note) and immediately get in touch with the instructor. We will place you in an alternate course if we have space available. Otherwise, you will need to re-register and pay.

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.

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


November 14, 2020

Apprentice Interpreter Nov 14/15, 2020

Online Via Zoom Meetings • November 14 & 15, 2020

Course Details Register Now