PTGA: Qualifications for Polar Guiding

Graham Charles, president

The Polar Tourism Guides Association (PTGA) is picking up more cruise line clients and individual veteran expedition team members looking for assessor training.

“The main guts of it is that we are a third-party vetting association,” said Graham Charles, president.

“Our qualifications are designed specifically for the needs of polar guiding,” said Charles, who has been assessing outdoor skills and teaching people how-to-teach for over 35 years.

Company clients include Polar Latitudes, Aurora Expeditions, Silversea and others.

The non-profit group runs assessor training programs for a number of expedition operators, and then assessors get a provisional accreditation, and become the trainers for expedition staff aboard their company’s ships. The group develops assessors using formal training models in its Polar Guide Qualifications Framework.

To get to the level to be considered an assessor an individual must have over 200 days of experience in Polar Regions using specific skill sets. Ultimately, an assessor will be a veteran capable of assessing against criterion referenced standards, according to PTGA literature.

The PTGA’s assessment program provides operators a number of criteria in which to evaluate expedition team members, starting with the most popular topic of them all: zodiac driving, and also including navigation, communication, operations in a polar bear environment, presentation, interpretation, snow and ice crack awareness, technical terrain and more.

The PTGA will train an onboard expedition team member in the association’s qualification criteria. A 12-month probation period follows, with various milestones to hit. Assuming an individual passes, assessors are then recertified every three years.

Qualification criteria can also give potential or current employees clear cut competencies as it relates to their compensation levels.

The PTGA has also recently expanded its board to seven people – a list of high-profile names in the expedition world – and has also received ISO accreditation for its programs.

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