Become a Certified Mountain Bike Instructor

Ever wonder how one becomes a Certified Mountain Bike Instructor? Or did you even know such a thing existed!? WELL IT DOES! AND YOU CAN BE ONE! 🙂 


“People think that [mountain biking] is just a matter of throwing yourself down a hill; they don’t realize how precise it is.” — Shaums March, ICP Lead Instructor Trainer

Why Get Certified? 

Mountain Bike Instruction if a very new profession. If you are interested, certification is the best route for you to get your foot in the door with various businesses. Being a certified mountain bike instructor greatly increases your chances of successful hire as a coach. The certification programs provide a standard of teaching, riding and understanding of the sport. Getting certified will allow you to gain further knowledge of the industry as well as the opportunity to share your love for biking with others!

How To Get Certified? 

There are a few professional organizations that offer certifications at this time. The following are links to their websites. Registration and schedules vary so please read through the details per site to gather further information. (*Please note, these are not the only programs however are simply the most widely known) – International Mountain Bike Association – Professional Mountain Bike Instructors
*Both have similar certification processes. Let’s take a look at Level 1 with IMBA versus Level 1 with PMBI, first: 

This course is extremely important for many reasons. Even if you aren’t planning to take riders into the backcountry or on guided rides,you are required to start here.

There are many aspects to teaching mountain biking: planning and prepartation, risk management, proper interaction with students, managing a group of riders, and being fully confident in your own understanding and demonstration of the fundamental elements. We will provide you with a strong foundation for moving forward as a well-equiped, knowledgeable instructor. The course will make you think about situations you don’t want to think about, yet need to be ready for.

In 2014, the Level 1 course now offers a section on creating teaching plans, plus an introduction to eight different skills. Once participants have completed their guiding simulation testing, the ICP Instructor Trainer will take the group through a professional skills clinic. It offers participants a chance to receive world-class personal instruction and to see how an instructional clinic is performed from start to finish. It is part of the introduction to instruction and prepares participants for the next level of certification with the ICP.


PMBI Level 1 Main Content:

  • “Six Skill Concept” training – Riding Theory
  • Teaching, Learning & Guiding Theory
  • Rider Improvement and Feedback Sessions
  • Skill Based vs. Maneuver Based teaching
  • Terrain & Feature use in teaching
  • Client Safety & Satisfaction

Riding Standard & Maneuver Examples:

  • Green, Blue & some Single Black Diamond trails
  • Drops up to 3 feet & small table top jumps
  • Front & rear wheel lifts
  • Basic ladders/raised trails
  • Berms and flat corners

Pre-requisites (recommended):
Confident mountain biker on beginner to intermediate terrain
A minimum of 30 months mountain biking experience
WMA: Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness Advanced First Aid Certifications strongly recommended but not a pre-requisite.

In order for candidates to successfully gain a PMBI Level 1 certification, they must pass both a riding and teaching evaluation during the course. Candidates must be comfortable riding all day long on intermediate single track/blue trails.

*As you can see, PMBI has a higher standard for Level 1 than IMBA. PMBI is most comparable to a PSIA/AASI Certification for SnowSports Instructors. Both IMBA and PMBI are nationally (and worldwide!) recognized programs and either certification would be considered an asset to any individual wanting to obtain a Mountain Bike Guide position with a park or resort. 

Where Would Someone With A Certification Be Employed? 

Some of the most popular resorts are:

Deer Valley, UT; Winter Park, CO; Steam Boat, CO; Keystone, CO; Mt. Bachelor, OR; Whistler, BC; Sundance, UT; Moab Mountain Bike Instruction, UT; Angel Fire , NM; Canyons/Park City, UT; Aspen/Snowmass, CO; and many more…

How Expensive Are These Programs? 

Cost varies between the two certification organizations as well as the different levels one can reach. The typically cost of a program ranges from $300 – $600 depending. Please check each individual website for details.


If guiding mountain biking, teaching lessons or trying to make money while riding a rad bike, becoming a certified instructor is one of the best paths you could take!



*Next article – bicycle mechanic certification – COMING SOON SO STAY TUNED!

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