If you are planning to teach where you live, you might consider going with a regional organization. The main advantage is that their courses are more relevant to where you’ll be instructing. For instance, when I did my Paddle Canada certification, they were able to talk in depth about the local laws and special considerations for the cold climate here in Canada. Some of these certifications might also qualify you to teach in other regions, but it’s always best to check.
The Professional Stand Up Paddle Association (PSUPA) is an American organization. They offer flat water and SUP yoga instructor certifications and emphasize the business side of being a SUP instructor. Their instructors teach skills for a number of SUP disciplines, including river, surf, downwind, camping, and Pilates/fitness.
A not-for-profit founded in 1971, Paddle Canada (PC) oversees all paddling watersports in Canada, including SUP, canoe, and kayak. They offer a comprehensive SUP certification program that they have been running for 10 years. The program branches into three streams: Skills, Instructor, and Instructor Trainer. Within these streams, there are three disciplines you can specialize in: River, Touring, and Surf.
The UK’s governing body for SUP is the British Stand Up Paddle Association (BSUPA). They are the go-to for anyone looking to get certified in that region. They have been around since 2007 and, as their name indicates, are dedicated solely to SUP. There are two levels of instructor certification available, plus Coach and Trainer. Level 2 has two disciplines which are taught separately: Tour/Race Instructor and SUP Surf Instructor.
Verband Deutscher Wassersport Schulen (VDWS) translates to the Association of German Water Sports Schools. For SUP instructing, you can start out at the Assistant SUP level which is like an internship with a SUP school, where you learn the basics of running a SUP school. From there, you can choose to progress to being a SUP instructor with three levels of certifications. The highest level is split into Waves, River, SUP Yoga & Fitness, and Race/Paddling.
Whether you decide to go for a skills certification or want to be an instructor, there is a SUP certification out there for you. If you have any questions or recommendations, let us know in the comments below. Happy learning!