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Excellence Through Education

The PCIA is a non-profit organization focused on providing quality education for new and existing climbing instructors. The PCIA Accreditation Program helps assure land managers, insurance providers, and the public that employees of PCIA accredited schools have been peer reviewed and demonstrate core competencies essential to climbing and climbing instruction.

The PCIA was established to specifically serve the needs of climbing instructors, whether they are in a climbing gym or outdoors.  The PCIA strives to create great climbing educators: people who are capable climbers, technically proficient, and passionate about teaching climbing. The PCIA delivers important core skills to climbing instructors, some of whom go on to become great mountain guides.


Guides generally work with small group sizes.  Many rock climbing instructors work with large group sizes with goals of skills acquisition, personal development, or team building. The PCIA training and evaluation program significantly broadens the knowledge and skill base for both climbing instructors and guides.

There are many talented climbing educators in America; the PCIA seeks to include the “best of the best” in its' instructor pool. There are a variety of ways for interested people to become involved with the PCIA instructional team, from teaching a continuing education class to becoming an Instructor Trainer.

The PCIA’s sequentially designed instructional programs recognize the important nuances between climbing instruction that occurs on artificial structures and outdoor climbing sites. By providing a more consistent, standardized approach to entry level climbing instruction, the PCIA hopes to improve the safety and enjoyment of climbing for all participants.

Each of the PCIA’s courses has a formal evaluation component. In order to achieve certification, the instructor must pass an exam. These exams are not a mere formality – they require a significant understanding of specific climbing skills as well as the ability to apply these skills in a timely and appropriate manner.

The PCIA complements other related professions and is accessible to anyone interested in climbing instruction. Our continuing education requirements recognize the benefits of alternative technical training such as ropes courses, technical rescue, mountain guiding, canyoneering, and caving. We also recognize and value the importance of continually improving our educational and environmental knowledge. PCIA training and continuing education programs are available through many organizations and at a variety of national and regional professional conferences.

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