Freelance or external coaches

Are you a freelance climbing coach, or a climbing coach at a non-accredited centre, who would like to deliver NICAS sessions? You’re in the right place!

NICAS schemes can only be delivered at accredited centres, but providing you meet our minimum coaching requirements and have completed a NICAS induction, you may be able to put an agreement in place with an accredited centre to deliver NICAS sessions using their facilities.

What are the requirements?

NICAS schemes can only be delivered at accredited centres but – providing you hold the right qualifications and have received an induction – you may be able to deliver NICAS sessions at these centres.

You can check what qualifications and training are required to deliver each NICAS scheme and level on our Minimum Requirements page. We require freelance/external coaches to have higher levels of qualifications and coaching experience than in-house coaches who are located at a specific centre. All NICAS coaches including freelancers must be aged 18 or over.

All freelance/external coaches require an induction by the NICAS Coach Development Team: check our induction calendar. After you’ve had an induction, you’ll also get access to the NICAS coaching handbooks, which set out the syllabus and guidance for each level. You may be asked to complete a re-induction every three years in order to continue to deliver NICAS sessions.

Every centre that is approved for delivery of NICAS has a Course Director with overall responsibility for running NICAS there. Before you book an induction, you will need to contact them to check what their requirements are. Many centres will ask freelance instructors to provide proof of:

  • Insurance
  • Valid First Aid certification
  • Qualifications, training and experience
  • DBS check (or other local equivalent)

As you will know, every climbing centre is run as a stand-alone business and individual centres may not allow freelance/external coaches to take clients or groups there. The centre’s own policies override those of NICAS in this case: we won’t challenge their decision as to whether they allow freelancers. If they do allow freelance/external coaches, we will require you to meet our qualification requirements to deliver our schemes at their centre.

What am I allowed to do?

Depending on your qualifications and training, you may deliver NICAS Clip and Wild Climbers sessions, and train and assess candidates up to and including NICAS Climbing Level 4 or NICAS Bouldering Level 4. Only in-house coaches can deliver Level 5, unless specifically agreed otherwise; this requires sign off by NICAS and the accredited centre. You cannot register candidates or award certificates: this can only be done by the accredited centre (see below).

Course Directors of the accredited centres where you’re coaching must satisfy themselves that you have sufficient qualifications, training and experience, and insurance to deliver the relevant levels of your chosen scheme. Accredited centres reserve the right to refuse to allow you to deliver NICAS sessions at their centre, even if you meet our minimum coaching requirements and have received an induction from NICAS.

How do I register candidates?

Every candidate taking part in NICAS must be registered on the NICAS candidate database online.

You need to let the centre’s Course Director know the details of your candidates so they can set up an online record for them and provide you with logbooks.

The minimum information the Course Director will need to register your learners online is:

  • First name and last name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender (Male/Female/Not Specified/Gender Neutral/Other)
  • Scheme name (e.g. NICAS Bouldering)

When a candidate is registered online, it generates a unique candidate ID number – this number should be written inside their logbook.

How do I order logbooks and certificates?

Every candidate taking part in NICAS must be provided with their own logbook.

You will need to purchase logbooks through the accredited centre with which you have an agreement. The cost of the logbook includes any certificates for levels within the scheme.

Please note that only the Course Director can sign certificates when a candidate passes assessment.

Who assesses my candidates?

As a coach, you can sign off progress in your candidates’ logbooks, but you cannot sign certificates when a candidate passes assessment. The Course Director at each centre you use may want to be involved in some elements of the delivery or assessment of your candidates, before signing their certificates.

The final decision about any candidate assessment rests with the Course Director. This is because they retain overall responsibility for all candidates registered at their centre. In the event of a query or complaint from an exam board, an awarding body or any other third party, the Course Director needs to have sufficient knowledge of the candidates and their abilities to be able to justify their level of accreditation, or the grade given at an examination.

Can I take candidates to other centres?

Any climbing, belaying or bouldering done at an accredited centre counts towards their syllabus and assessment criteria. If your candidates go to another centre which isn’t accredited, or are lucky enough to climb outdoors with you, we encourage them to log their achievements; however, please be aware that this cannot be counted towards their NICAS Climbing and/or NICAS Bouldering levels.

Each time you go to another NICAS centre, you will need to make contact with the Course Director so they are aware that you are inducted, that your candidates are registered, and that they have logbooks.

Can I advertise as a NICAS coach?

You may advertise that you deliver NICAS sessions at the accredited centre or centres with which you have an agreement. You must name the accredited centre(s) you use and the scheme(s)/level(s) you are qualified to deliver at each centre.

You may use our logos with restricted permissions – please contact us for further advice.