Group Management (Hiking Guide) Course

As Interpretive Hiking Guides, we are responsible for the safety and well-being of the people we are guiding.

Our Group Management courses cover legal liability, client care, client management in different seasons, pacing, understanding and managing risk, understanding the environment you are guiding in and trip preparation, to ensure the experience you provide for your guests is safe, comfortable and sets the required foundation for inspirational interpretation!

The Group Management courses do not teach map and compass skills and it is important that you come to the course with a minimum understanding of how to use a compass while on the trail. The IGA offers separate map and compass courses. Please email us at for more information.

A Group Management certification (or equivalent course deemed by the land manager) is required if you want to work as a Hiking Guide in provincial and national parks.

Taken by itself, the Group Management Course will not certify you as a Hiking Guide. It must be paired with the Apprentice Interpreter (AI), Interpretive Specialist (IS) or Professional Interpreter (PI) Certification.

The four season group management course exceeded my expectations. Every aspiring guide should do it.

Andy Dragt. Founder Slow and Steady Hiking Club

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

Interpreter and Apprentice Hiking Guide


3 Season Group Management Course (taught April through June):

  • 2 days (½ day classroom + 1.5 days outside)
  • Cost = $369 plus GST
  • Pre-requisites – Valid 16 hour standard first aid and CPR (C level), hiking resume, AI, IS, or PI certification.

4 Season Group Management Course (taught November through March):

  • 3 days (1 day classroom + 2 days outside)
  • Cost = $529 plus GST
  • Pre-requisites – Valid 40 hour wilderness first aid, hiking resume, AI, IS, or PI certification.

4 Season Group Management Bridge Course (taught November through March):

This course is only open to people with a 3 season GM certification or those who have taken the 4 season course and want a refresher.

  • 1.5 days (½ day classroom + 1 day outside)
  • Cost = $280 plus GST
  • Pre-requisites – Valid 40 hour wilderness first aid, hiking resume, AI, IS, or PI certification, 3 Season Group Management certificate.

Set up a private course for your company or group:

If you have a group of 10 or more we may be able to schedule a private course to fit your schedule. Email us at for more information.


The following is an overview of some of the material covered in the Group Management courses.

Classroom instruction will include:

  •  legal responsibilities of the guide
  •  trip planning
  •  risk management
  •  group management skills.

Outdoor component – Instructional Hike:

We will spend time on a local trail where your instructor will demonstrate on- trail skills and reinforce the skills covered in the classroom portion. We will also look at group management skills and best practices for day hiking guides in summer, winter or both depending on the course you are taking and season you are taking it in. You will be assessed and evaluated on your ability to safely lead a group on the trail during the outdoor component.


To take a Group Management course you must must:

  1. You must be the age of majority for your province. Contact us if you or a staff member are younger and want to take the training program
  2. Have a standard 16-hour first aid and CPR level ‘C’ certification or higher for the 3 Season course, and a 40-hour wilderness first aid certification or higher for the 4 Season course. While the 16-hour first aid certification is sufficient as the prerequisite for the 3 Season course, we recommend all hiking guides have a 40-hour wilderness first aid certification.
  3. Have completed the IGA Apprentice, Interpretive Specialist or Professional Interpreter course.
  4. Have completed all portions of the GM course classroom session and field days.
  5. Have a minimum of 5 days hiking experience (3 Season Course) and 10 days of hiking experience (min 5 days in winter) for the 4 Season Course PLUS an interest in leading groups on established trails. (See below for more details on recognized hiking experience and Scope of Practice).
  6. Be competent with the following basic navigation skills.
    1. Identify different features on a topographical map (rivers, lakes, buildings, etc.).
    2. Identify and relate contour lines from the map to the terrain you are hiking on.
    3. Determine elevation loss and gain from contour lines on a map.
    4. Measure the length of a trail in meters or kilometres.
    5. Give a map reference using the UTM grid to show your location.
    6. Take a simple compass bearing, i.e., to determine the direction of a trail in poor visibility.
    7. Determine the cardinal directions of the compass at any time and orientate the map to the ground.

Your  proficiency with navigation will be assessed at various stages in the course, but, as noted above, these items will not be taught.

Please note: 

  1. To take this course you must have paid your yearly professional dues (and therefore have a membership with the IGA).
  2. You must send a copy of your valid first-aid certificate, and your hiking resume to before your course starts. You cannot be certified without a valid 1st aid and hiking resume attached to your file.
  3. To take this course you must agree to sign the IGA's liability waiver. It is important that you read, understand and are okay with signing the waiver before registering and paying for the GM course. Click here to review the waiver: IGA Waiver


For the outdoor/trail portions of this course, you will be required to demonstrate that you have the skill, confidence and personal fitness to guide clients on any conditions encountered in the region where you will be certified. You must be able to demonstrate that you can care for clients and yourself while out on the trail.

You must ensure you arrive at your field day in good health and fit enough to hike a distance of a minimum of 8 km with 400 meters of elevation gain and be prepared to spend a full day outside.


The IGA accepts ACMG Hiking Guide certification or higher as an equivalent to our 3 Season Group Management course and the ACMG Hiking Guide or higher with an ACMG winter certification for our 4 Season Group Management course. Any applications for other equivalencies must go directly to the appropriate land manager.


Click here to view the IGA's Liability Waiver: IGA Waiver

See the Scope of Practice for IGA Hiking Guides


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.


June 2024
Jun 24 - 25 2024

3-Season Group Management – June 24-25, 2024 Last Few Tickets

***Final Group Management course of spring 2024 *** This course takes place June 24-25 (Canmore area). To register ($369 + GST), ensure you have an IGA membership purchased, that you're signed in to your account, and have completed the Apprentice Interpreter course or higher.
Banff / Canmore
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