Outdoor Industry Credential: Exploring Perspectives Within the Profession


  • Geneviève Marchand Humboldt State University
  • Kelli McMahan Baylor University
  • Hailey D. Hester Georgia State University
  • Patrick Lewis Ithaca College
  • Philip Zook Friesen Pacific University
  • Will Hobbs Montana State University, Billings




credential, outdoor leadership, certification, outdoor professional, industry standards


This paper reviews the findings of a professional task force from the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE), which explored the feasibility of and support for a credentialing system for students and young professionals aspiring to a career in the outdoor industry. The task force used initial public discussions to design a survey, which was then sent to AORE members. The quantitative and qualitative data revealed an almost 50% division in favor of/against a credentialing system. In general, younger professionals and students expressed more interest in a credential than seasoned veterans did. All respondents identified similar challenges to a credentialing system: cost versus benefit, assessing and evaluating the qualifications, and a lack of value-added (a sense that there are already too many credentials in the industry). Although credentialing can signal a unified profession that agrees on the professional competencies required for effective professional practice, our findings indicate the outdoor industry is not yet there.

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