The Outdoor Professional

Outdoor learning professionals provide safe activities and effective learning in the outdoors for the benefit of individuals, communities, society and the economy.

They are trained, experienced and uphold the values and behaviours that help others adventure in their environment, gain skills and make a positive difference for our world.

Professionals in outdoor learning may volunteer, work full-time or part-role to positively impact areas such as sports participation, outdoor education, youth development, wellbeing, workforce training or adventure tourism.

Associate Professionals in Outdoor Learning

Associate Professionals in Outdoor Learning have responsibility for leading safe and engaging outdoor learning sessions in order to achieve intended outcomes. They have a minimum of one years' outdoor learning work experience plus relevant qualifications at RQF/CQFW Level 3 / SQCF Level 6 or higher.



Professionals in Outdoor Learning

Professionals in Outdoor Learning have responsibility for shaping effective outdoor learning by exercising autonomy and judgement within medium / long term parameters. They have a minimum of at least five years' experience in outdoor learning (including at least two years in a position of responsibility) plus degree level learning.




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Outdoor Role

The three categories in the centre of the image can be combined to describe a role in outdoor learning - what position someone holds, which outdoor activities and subjects they specialise in, and why they do it.

Outdoor position

e.g. Teaching, Instructing, Coaching, Guiding, Leading, Training, Educating, Advising, Managing, Directing

Outdoor activity and subject specialisms

e.g. Adventure Sports, Nature Connection, Outdoor Science, Team Challenges, Expeditions, Outdoor Living Skills

General purpose and intent

e.g. Sports participation, Outdoor education, Youth development, Wellbeing, Workforce training, Adventure tourism


Outdoor Professional Values

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.


Professional Competence

Competent to provide safe activities and effective learning in outdoor environments

Holds sufficient knowledge, skills, experience and judgement to deliver safe activities and effective learning on land, water, or in the air.

Education, training, training, experience and competence is aligned with relevant occupational standards and guidance for the role - whether as a volunteer or employee.


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

Professional Compliance

Follows their organisations policies and procedures.

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


Has their approach to outdoor learning recognised through relevant qualifications, NGB awards and 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 HorizonsJAEOL 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
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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 the Institute to add your views.


Will you join us in Championing Outdoor Learning?

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