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Course Length: ~20 hours 

Prerequisites: The candidate should: have the ability to comfortably top rope climb at the 5.8 standard, illustrating confident, smooth, and controlled movement; own the personal equipment necessary for the course; demonstrate basic technical skills with ease; and be comfortable with multiple styles of belay devices. 
Certification Duration: 3 years
Re-certification Criteria: There are three re-certification options: (1) take a 1-day refresher course; (2) obtain 10 hours of continuing education credits (CEUs); (3) obtain a higher-level certification.


The Climbing Wall Instructor (CWI) course emphasizes the instruction of fundamental skills to climbing gym participants, the formation of risk assessment and risk management skills, and basic problem-solving skills.  Participants are assessed on their knowledge and their ability to effectively teach related skills.  


Certification Levels:   Depending on performance, participants can earn one of three certification levels.  

  1. CWI-A: Climbing Wall Instructor Assistant

  2. CWI: Climbing Wall Instructor

  3. CWI-L: Climbing Wall Instructor with a Lead Climbing endorsement


Climbing Wall Instructor Course Curriculum:

  • Professionalism:  Professional demeanor and attire; client greetings; facility introductions; professional training programs and other outdoor education organizations.

  • Legality: Administrative aspects of wall management; gym inspections; gym set-up; and emergency action plans. 

  • Safety:  Inspecting equipment; administration of skills tests; use of gym-appropriate knots; various belay techniques; skills interventions; basic rescue skills; supervision of bouldering and roped climbing areas; and spotting techniques.   

  • Accessibility:  Working with diverse populations; route setting for different styles and abilities.

  • Instructing/Coaching:  Sequencing; teaching movement; and role modeling.


Academic Course Format:

The CWI Course Curriculum is also available from the PCIA in an academic classroom format. Lessons are divided into 75-minute blocks to better fit class schedules.  Assignment suggestions, sample exams, sample activities, and an A-E grading model are included.

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