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The Outdoor Professional

Using the outdoors to make a difference for others

Outdoor learning professionals create positive memories and help people gain skills and learn more about themselves, each other and the natural world.

Working on a full-time, part-role or voluntary basis, they lead a range of adventure sports, outdoor skills and challenges, field studies, and environmental appreciation activities and programmes.

Outdoor professionals are members of their professional body and are trained and experienced in using the outdoors to make a difference for others.



The Outdoor Professional



Values learners

Guides, encourages and supports each learner in their development to achieve their potential. Focusses on agreed outcomes, responds to changing individual and group needs. Role-models an inclusive, motivating and positive approach.

Values the environment

Champions, actively respects and cares for the environment. Builds awareness of impact and encourages behaviours in others that support sustainability. Inspires connection, understanding and promotes on-going engagement with the outdoors.

Values their development

Is a self-starter that learns from experience, research and reflection. Inquisitive and open to new opportunities and advances in good practice. Takes pride in their profession and seeks to develop others as they develop themselves.



Has the knowledge, skills, experience and judgement required to deliver safe activities and effective learning.

Their education and training is aligned with relevant occupational standards for their role.



Engages in reflective practice and regular continuing professional development (CPD).



Follows employers' policies and procedures.

Meets safeguarding, data protection, first aid, insurance and legal requirements.



Has their approach to outdoor learning recognised through relevant qualifications, awards or membership levels.



Upholds and follows a code of professional conduct.

Knows and operates within the limits of their competence.

Represents their profession and promotes the benefits of Outdoor Learning.



Keeps up to date and aware of standards and changes in the field.

Values research in the field

Reads Horizons, JAEOL or other professional magazines.



Draws on local and national networks of peers and experts to guide and inform how they work.

Is supported to follow good practice.


The Outdoor Professional Profile

Help raise pride in meeting the values and behaviours of an outdoor professional by reflecting how you or your team match up to the profile.

  1. Check the good practice profile to see how you or your team can develop
  2. Follow the links highlighted above to start working on the opportunities you have identified



IOL The Outdoor Professional


The Outdoor Professional Profile



How was the Profile Developed?

Building on the IOL code of conduct, benchmarking other professional institutes, and the views of individual and organisational members (including results of a 2019 IOL member survey with 79 high-quality responses), IOL has developed this inclusive and desired set of values and behaviours for outdoor professionals.

This profile will help members as they develop on their career journey, as well as inform the way we talk about and represent the professionals in our sector.

Share your views

This is a live profile open to improvements/corrections. Without your input we will not be able to capture the full breadth of all areas of outdoor learning and all job roles.

Please help us capture the important qualities and behaviours you see in your-self, your peers and your staff team. Email Neal Anderson, IOL Professional Standards Manager, to add your views.



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