What’s around the River Bend? Earn Your IRF Raft Guide Certification and Find Out!

There’s a lot you can learn from a river. From deep life lessons on how to choose the “correct” path, to technical skills for mastering whitewater rapids and further understanding your potential as a leader, students come off the river phases of our courses with greater appreciation for their group, themselves, and the river.


Who takes the International Rafting Federation Raft Guide Course?

Our students don’t always get there on their own: it is the role of their instructors and Raft Guides to provide students with support, safety, and proper instruction to get the whole team safely through a run. Raft Guide certifications aren’t just for professional Raft Guides. Whitewater enthusiasts, competitive rafters or kayakers, and anyone who spends time on the river can also benefit from a Raft Guide certification.

Prerequisites for the Raft Guide certification course include the minimum requirements for a Raft Guide Trainee certification and a First Aid certification with a CPR component. Students on our Outdoor Leader Semester and River to Sea Leadership Semester receive the necessary training to complete all prerequisites prior to or while earning their Raft Guide certification.

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What topics are covered in the IRF Raft Guide Course?

The Raft Guide course provides future guides with the skills and knowledge needed to competently guide a standard raft in the designated class of rapids. A Standard Raft is an inflatable multi-passenger self-draining craft specially designed for whitewater. The course covers following skills and topics rafting techniques, crew training and management, emergency and rescue techniques, and knowledge of equipment, safety and emergency procedures, rapid theory, leadership, and signals.


How long does it take to earn IRF Raft Guide certification?


Depending on the class of whitewater rapids you will be guiding on, the IRF Raft Guide Certification requires the following experience:

Stadium (artificial whitewater) rapids – For guides on artificial rapids: 10 runs/20 hours
Class II – For guides on up to Class II rapids: 10 runs/20 hours
Class III – For guides on up to Class III rapids: 30 runs/60 hours on Class III rapids or above
Class IV/V – For guides on up to Class V rapids: 30 runs/60 hours on rapids above Class III




Students on our Outdoor Leader Semester and River to Sea Leadership Semester spend a minimum of 20 days on the river earning their Whitewater Rescue Technician and Raft Guide certificates. Most students earn either Class II or Class III certifications, but it is possible to get up to a Class IV/V in that time.


How long is an IRF Raft Guide certification valid?

The IRF Raft Guide certification is valid for 2 years. As long as you can prove that you are an active guide and are maintaining your First Aid and CPR certifications, you can easily renew by paying the renewal fee to IRF. IRF recommends that you participate in a refresher workshop every four years.


For more information on our programs that offer an IRF Raft Guide certification, like our River to Sea Leadership Semester and Outdoor Leader Semester, or contact our Enrollment Manager at enrollment@OutwardBoundCR.org.