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Professional Outdoor Industry Certificate



Build a career with purpose
Transform the outdoor industry

2024 Series Dates:

Courses will meet once a week for 6 hours starting the week of January 8-12 and will continue for 6 weeks until the week of February 12-16. 


WCU is widely recognized as the Southeast’s premier outdoor recreation and adventure university. We are leveraging and combining our academic excellence and experience in professional education with our outstanding and innovative outdoor-focused curriculum and deep connection to the nation’s burgeoning outdoor recreation economy to offer this affordable, dynamic, and flexible professional outdoor certificate.

When you work in the outdoors, you're getting paid to do what you love, but you're also making outdoor recreation more welcoming and accessible to everyone. 

When people feel welcome and comfortable outdoors:

  • They live healthier and happier lives
  • Communities get stronger
  • And we all deepen our connections to this beautiful world

WCU's Professional Outdoor Industry Certificate program provides skills, insight, knowledge, and networking opportunities to students and learners from a variety of backgrounds who are interested in a rewarding career or thriving business in the outdoor recreation industry. Our specialized, easy-to-access workshops teach participants how to create real, lasting change in the current outdoor industry to mindfully foster a better future for the field. 

Outdoor Recreation's Roundtable Workforce Report 

A career in the outdoors means so much more than simply “taking people outside.” In addition to conventional jobs such as guiding and outfitting, the outdoor industry is comprised of a diverse array of technical, operational, and professional disciplines including economic development, leisure and hospitality, product design and development, advanced manufacturing, social media, public relations, advertising, marketing, content creation, policy development, sustainability, retail, education, advocacy, and even construction!

If you are looking for a flexible and affordable way to break into the outdoor industry, enhance your skill-set, stand out to potential employers, grow your outdoor business, or sharpen your leadership skills, WCU's Professional Outdoor Certificate program is for you!

  • We are the ONLY outdoor certificate program to offer live, online instruction from outdoor industry and subject matter experts
  • We offer maximum flexibility: Use our a la carte "pay as you go" option and take only the workshops you want, when you want!
  • No prerequisite requirements to enroll
  • Networking opportunities with outdoor industry professionals
  • General CEUs or Contact Hours upon completion of each workshop
  • You will receive a Professional Outdoor Industry Certificate from Western Carolina University!

A certificate requires completion of six 6-hour workshops taught by industry and subject matter experts.

Depending on scheduling and workshop availability, you might finish in as little as one semester! Or…take your time, go at your own pace, and earn a certificate one workshop at a time. How you do it, and how long you take, is up to you!

  • Full Certificate: $850 per person.
  • Workshop price: $125 per person.
  • You can choose to pay for the full certificate or register for individual workshops during the registration process.


Join Andy Coburn, WCU Faculty Liaison to the Outdoor Industry, and Steven Reinhold, Founder of the Appalachian Adventure Company and Backpacker Magazine Gear Ambassador, as they lead you on a comprehensive, interactive, and engaging look at the US Outdoor Industry.

In this one-day workshop, join us as we explore the entrepreneurial journey and what it takes to start, operate, and grow your own outdoor industry business. Whether starting up a business, focusing on strategic planning, or taking your business to the next level, it's critical to understand the entrepreneurial mindset.

This workshop provides the aspiring outdoor industry entrepreneur with essential marketing and branding basics to develop a marketing plan and brand strategy. Next, the workshop also explores real-world examples of marketing in practice. It concludes with an overview of related marketing topics for new outdoor business owners to consider as part of their marketing efforts. 

Craft your organizational or product story and learn to be more memorable and shareable:

  • Identify the right audiences for your messages
  • Learn about how social media algorithms work and the art of increasing reach and engagement
  • Enhance your media outreach and public relations with social media strategies
  • Outline plans for onsite event coverage and social media communications
  • Evaluate various account management tools
  • Learn how to develop successful marketing partnerships and connect with influencers
  • Quantify the value of social advertising campaigns for event, product, and program promotion

There are few things more gratifying than successfully trekking up a mountain and enjoying the views. Good leaders, like good trail guides, help their people get there. They know the terrain they are trekking, provide the resources their team needs to reach its goals, and are confident in their ability to lead the way. This training guides individuals to become better leaders.

Learn "The 10 Commandments of Effective Leadership Communication" and develop your active listening skills. Participants will identify the nonverbal communication cues that signal leadership competence and set tone and will build a speaking "presence." It is also important to analyze the critical role of leadership communication during crises, which will be done through case study examples and how to prepare for the spotlight: How to respond to media inquiries.

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