Choosing national coaching qualifications
Getting involved with instructing is a fantastic way to use your knowledge to bring other people into your sport. As well as getting paid to do something you love, you get oodles of job satisfaction from watching your students develop. But how do you know which qualifications to aim for, especially if you are just starting out or are interested in more than one activity?
Let's start by looking at the very top layer. UK Sport are the national body responsible for nurturing performance athletes of the future; if you are hoping to be the next Jessica Ennis or Chris Hoy, or even one of the top level coaches charged with discovering the Olympians of the future, your involvement will be with this organisation.
For most of us at a more grass roots level, Sport England (along with their counterparts in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) are of more interest. This body supports forty six sports from Aikido to Yoga, through lottery and national funding, to the tune of half a billion pounds during the next five years! With so much money involved, it is hardly surprising that many sports have more than one body trying to gain members and offer instructing awards. Sport England recognise and give legitimacy to a single National Governing Body for each sport. A full list can be found on their website here: Sport England.
While there is no harm getting an award from an organisation outside this list, we'd advise against if you want to maximise your job prospects.
NGB & UKCC
To get involved in teaching or coaching adventure sports, outdoor pursuits or adventurous activities, sooner or later you are going to need to obtain one or more National Governing Body Awards, or NGBs for short. These can come in a number of levels, each one indicating your instructing ability. While there are plenty of entry level outdoor activity jobs to be had that do not require NGBs, they are one of the first things that employers look for on an applicant's CV.
Along the way you are also going to see the acronym UKCC. This is a coaching framework established by a national body called Sports Coach UK. Getting complicated isn't it. Hopefully this diagram will make things a bit easier to follow.
Let us say your local canoe club employs a coach who is qualified to offer you the UKCC BCU Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Paddlesport. They will train you up and arrange for assessment, and if you are successful, you are awarded the certificate by the British Canoe Union, who are the National Governing Body for paddle sports, as recognised by Sport England. Whether or not you are of a suitable standard to hold that certificate is dictated by the UK Coaching Certificate (UKCC). NGBs who have brought their coaching awards inline with the UKCC range from Angling to Wrestling - for more information visit: Sports Coach UK
Without knowing which of the many hundreds of different instructor jobs you see yourself holding in the future, it is impossible to say which awards and certificates your should aim to gain, but if you have some idea which sport appeals most then get in contact with the recognised NGB and have a chat with them. For general activity centre jobs, the most popular awards include canoe and paddlesports, yachting and sailing, archery, climbing and hill walking. If you are just starting out in the industry, then an 'all-rounder' job like this is a great way to get to know what is available, and you are likely to pick up one or two NGBs during your on the job training.