Snow & Avalanche Studies Certificate


The Snow & Avalanche Studies (SAS) program is a cross-disciplinary, 18 credit certificate for snow science, avalanche hazard assessment, risk management, and leadership. 

Put your love of snow to educational purposes and become more qualified to work with local, state, and federal governments, avalanche schools, mountain guiding operations, guest lodges and ski clubs, and ski areas and resorts.

We partner with the American Institute of Avalanche Research & Education (AIARE). You will receive 4 AIARE certifications after the SAS course and assessment completion. 

Jake Peters, Adventure Education, '19

"This course did a great job preparing me for the field of avalanche education. It provided me with teaching techniques and risk management skills that gave me a valuable advantage when entering the professional world."

  • How to apply
  • Emphasis areas
  • Experience requirement
How to apply

The SAS certificate program is designed for any Fort Lewis College student; you do not have to be an Adventure Education or Geology major or minor. While you don't need to apply to this program, you must declare you are going for this certification on the Change Major form.

Emphasis areas

Students will learn to:

  • Identify and characterize avalanche terrain
  • Understand how avalanches form and release
  • Collect and analyze weather, snow, and avalanche data
  • Communicate avalanche hazard and risk factors
  • Manage groups in avalanche terrain
  • Effectively perform avalanche and backcountry rescue techniques
  • Work within snow and avalanche operations
Experience requirement

At some point during this certificate program, students must be able to:

  • Ski or ride in variable snow conditions in intermediate to advanced ski terrain
  • Carry a 35 lb pack
  • Skin and ski/ride up to 2000 feet in a day
  • Supply their own personal backcountry travel equipment and personal winter clothing. *Some ski/splitboard equipment is available through the Adventure Education department and Outdoor Pursuits.
  • *Math 132, Introduction to Statistics, is not required, but highly recommended for this certificate.

Your career path

Potential employment positions with a Snow & Avalanche Studies certificate:

  • Avalanche Specialist 
  • Snow Scientist with Federal Agency 
  • Ski Patroller
  • Avalanche Forecaster
  • Snow Safety Director
  • Ski/Snowboard Guide
  • Avalanche Instructor
  • Meteorological Technician
  • Avalanche Technician
  • Snow Ranger 


Aaron Ball, Adventure Education operations coordinator and senior lecturer

Phone: 970-247-7585