Outdoor Instructor
Plas y Brenin Mountain Centre

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Tamsin G

0.00.00 My name’s Tamsin G. I’m an Outdoor Instructor and I work at Plas y Brenin which is the National Mountain Sport and Paddle Sport Outdoor Centre for England and Wales. I spend most of my days either working on the hill, which might involve teaching people navigation, perhaps taking people rock climbing or scrambling, so perhaps up easy mountain ridges.

0.00.30 Or I might spend my day on the river teaching people to kayak, maybe on flat water like this behind me, or on river sections as well, doing a little bit of white-water padding. When I was at school I didn’t really give any proper thought to what I was going to do in the future, you know, I definitely bumbled through from day to day, just trying to occasionally do some homework and scrape through. I went to university and I studied IT and business. I wouldn’t have gone at all probably but I suddenly thought oh god, I better make use of the last year of the grant system available in Scotland.

0.01.00 So went to university, studied IT and business and somehow scraped through that and did reasonably well, god knows how. But when I went to university I started kayaking and I was very lucky because the university group were really supportive, really fun. It was definitely just a social thing for me really. I think I fancied the president of the kayak club. When I finished I had a year away kayaking, kind of travelling round the world to places in South America and Africa and North America as well.

0.01.30 But then sort of felt like I had to go into a proper job. I started on a graduate training scheme in business management with an insurance company and I managed two and a half years with them but basically I was really unhappy doing that. It wasn’t for me at all. I spent every moment of my time trying to get outside, trying to go mountain biking or kayaking. And eventually I just completely binned it and applied for a trainee outdoor instructor scheme.

0.02.00 And although I had no qualifications whatsoever in the outdoor industry, they took me on kind of by merit of my kayaking experience and in a year I managed to get a lot of kayaking qualifications and I didn’t think I was going to do it forever, this job, but I forgot that halfway through and just got really heavily involved in it. And that was five years ago. So it’s just gone from strength to strength really from then. My family definitely thought it was a brave decision. My dad, you know, really supported me and kind of applauded me for it.

0.02.30 But inside there’s no choice, you know, for me it would have been much more terrifying to stay in a job that didn’t suit me. My parents are very keen sailors and hill walkers and they met working at outdoor instructors. They kind of understand the career that I’ve gone into and are totally supportive of that. But when I knew them, my mum was a mum, that was her full-time job.

0.03.00 And my dad worked for the Education Authority in Lothian Region where I grew up. You’re really reliant on your body working and it was a little bit scary hurting my knee because I sort of felt like, you know, it’s like when you lose your handbag with your phone and your wallet and everything in it, everything goes at once. So yeah I’m trying to sort of develop interests in other things. I’m learning French at the moment cos I want to have a cerebral interest as well as something that’s physical cos otherwise, you know, I’m going to exhaust my body.

0.03.30 So if I was to have done something differently in my life it would have been to study something that I actually liked at university, you know, no matter what it is or what sort of value society attached to it. So for example dance or drama or film studies or something fun, because then at least you still have a degree and I don’t use my degree anyway, and definitely not to have done anything that I felt like I ought to have done rather than doing what I wanted to do.


Tamsin G is an Outdoor Instructor at Plas y Brenin Mountain Centre. She has a degree in IT and business and had a job with an insurance company. “But basically I was really unhappy doing that… I spent every moment of my time trying to get outside, trying to go mountain biking or kayaking. And eventually I just completely binned it and applied for a trainee outdoor instructor scheme.”

More information about Sports coaches, instructors and officials

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

61%  male 
39%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Sports coaches, instructors and officials work with amateur and professional sportsmen and women to enhance performance, encourage greater participation in sport, supervise recreational activities such as canoeing and mountaineering, and organise and officiate at sporting events according to established rules.
There are no formal academic requirements although individuals must have experience in their sport and the relevant coaching and refereeing qualifications. Applicants to coaching courses must normally be over 18 years old and hold a first-aid certificate. Some courses encompass coaching awards within broader programmes of study. NVQs/SVQs in coaching are available in the context of certain sports. Background checks including a CRB check are required for those working with children.
  • Coaches teams or individuals by demonstrating techniques and directing training and exercise sessions;
  • Controls team selection and discipline and recruits ancillary staff such as coaches or physiotherapists;
  • Monitors and analyses technique and performance, and determines how future improvements can be made;
  • Deals with administrative aspects such as arranging matches, contests or appearances for athlete or team, and organising required transport and accommodation;
  • Provides information and develops facilities to encourage greater participation in sport, and to enhance the standards of participants;
  • Understands health and safety aspects of various activities and ensures any statutory requirements are met;
  • Inspects and maintains specialised clothing and equipment;
  • Manages the playing areas and competitors, starts race, competition or match and controls its progress according to established rules.
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