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How to Become an ACA Instructor

Kayak Instruction. Photo Courtesy of Larry Ausley.ACA Instructors teach paddling skills in approved ACA course outlines after qualifying in various disciplines and at various levels.  An ACA Instructor can teach both skills courses and assessment courses up to their level of certification. 


ACA Instructors are expected to represent and promote the ACA and paddlesports in a positive manner.


General Requirements for ACA Instructor Certification:

  • Instructors shall be at least 18 years of age
  • Maintain current ACA Membership and SEIC dues
  • Maintain an appropriate level of First Aid and age appropriate CPR credentials

Instructor Certification Process:

To become an ACA Instructor, an Instructor Candidate must:

  • Participate in an Instructor Development Workshop (IDW) and pass an Instructor Certification Exam (ICE). These courses are offered either as separate courses with time between for skills and presentation development and practice, or can be offered concurrently (at the discretion of the Instructor Trainer) as an Instructor Certification Workshop (ICW).
  • Perform paddling skills consistently with demonstration quality
  • Demonstrate effective teaching skills
  • Demonstrate technical knowledge of paddlesport
  • Demonstrate appropriate safety & rescue ability
  • Demonstrate effective group / course management and positive interpersonal skills

Registration Process & Dues:

All Instructor Candidates must be a current member of the ACA prior to the start of the course. 


Upon successful completion of an ICE or ICW, the new Instructor must then pay their SEIC dues.  This can either be given to the Instructor Trainer to submit with the course paperwork or done online afterwards (SEIC Dues are also available in the eStore).


Once the ACA office has received the course paperwork and dues are current, all Instructor Candidates who have successfully certified, will have their membership status transferred to Instructor in the ACA database and receive their certification card.


Required Text & Materials:

Certification Outcomes:

  • Pass - an Instructor Candidate can become certified at the highest level of the ICE or ICW
  • Pass - an Instructor Candidate may become certified at a lower level (aka receiving a Level 2 certification even though it was a Level 4 certification course)
  • Continued - most, but not all of the requirements are met to certifiy at a specific level.  They do not have to retake the entire ICE or ICW, but they must be 'checked off' by an Instructor Trainer at a later date before certification is awarded
  • Failed - the Instructor Candidate did not pass at a desired level and the deficiencies were such that they must retake the entire IDW, ICE or ICW
  • An Instructor Candidate can receive a Level 3 certification and be continued at Level 4
  • If an Instructor Candidate is either failed or continued at a certain level, the Instructor Trainer must document the deficiencies to the Instructor Candidate and the ACA National Office in writing

Additional Certification Information:

  • Participation in an ICE or ICW does not guarantee certification
  • Don't know which level of course to take? Review the Instructor Criteria documents to familiarize yourself with the criteria that each level is based upon
  • A complete policy manual is available on the Safety Education & Instruction Council webpage
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ACA Mission

Founded in 1880, The American Canoe Association (ACA) is a national nonprofit organization serving the broader paddling public by providing education related to all aspects of paddling, stewardship support to help protect paddling environments, and sanctioning of programs and events to promote paddlesport competition, exploration, and recreation.

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ACA | Canoe-Kayak-SUP-Raft-Rescue
503 Sophia St. Suite 100
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Phone: 540-907-4460
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