Avalanche Operations Level 3

The CAA's Avalanche Operations Level 3: Applied Avalanche Risk Management is the final course in the CAA's training progression for avalanche professionals. It is designed to teach learners general concepts of risk that will help them create a risk management framework for use in practical applications in snow avalanche risk management planning and operations. This framework is based on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 31000 standard and includes establishing context; communication and consultation strategies; techniques for monitoring and review; assessing risk (risk identification, risk analysis, risk evaluation); and risk treatment. 
The level 3 is a five day classroom-based course that take place every other Fall. Review the Level 3 Reading List and the sample course schedule to better understand some of the theories and concepts that will be studied. After the course, learners craft a professional written report that they submit and present in the Spring for assessement. Please refer to the Course Evaluation heading below for further details.

Visit the Level 3 application information webpage for details and requirements to applying for the Level 3 program. Also check the course calendar for course/exam dates, locations and registration. Registration for the course opens in June and students must have an approved Level 3 application in order to register. 

Program Goals

For each course the Canadian Avalanche Association creates specific course goals and learning objectives. These reflect industry standards and current best practices and are updated accordingly. The Avalanche Operations Level 3 course goals and objectives are displayed in the Level 3 DACUM. If you are unfamiliar with DACUMs please read the document "Learn what a DACUM is and why it is important".


Applicants must have:

  • CAA Avalanche Operations Level 2 certificate or similar training/experience1.
  • CAA Introduction to Weather certificate or similar training/experience1&2.
  • Minimum 3 seasons of  employment/experience in avalanche work after completion of the CAA Operations Level 2 course.3
  • Minimum of 2 seasons as an avalanche technician working under the supervision of an avalanche forecaster.
  • A minimum of two letters of reference from CAA professional Members.4 The Level 3 CAA Professional Member Reference Form is found in the Members Only section of the CAA website (you will not be able to access this page without being a Professional Member but you can send the right-click on the red text to copy and send this link to your references). 

1 If you are missing these prerequisites but believe that you have similar training and/or experience, you may apply for prior learning in order to have the prerequisite waived. Please visit the Prior Learning Assessment(PLA) Application webpage for details. A PLA reference form must also be sent in to the CAA office: PLA CAA Professional Reference Form or PLA Non-CAA Professional Member Reference Form. DACUMS for the self-assessment can be found under Student Resources.


2 For those who wish to apply to the Avalanche Operations Level 3 program but have yet to take this prerequisite, they must submit a Letter of Intent indicating that they will provide proof of completion prior to the start of the Level 3 course.


3 For non-level 2 graduates (PLA applicants): 5 seasons of employment/experience required at a minimum prior to Level 3 application. For all applicants: 1 season = 50 days.


4 Students, particularly international students, who do not have an affiliation with a CAA Professional Member may provide references from: their current avalanche industry employer or supervisor, their mentor, a fellow industry professional, and/or a Level 3 graduate who is familiar with the candidate‚Äôs avalanche resume. Please send them the Non-CAA Professional Member PLA Reference Form.


Recommended Prerequisites:

  • CAA Introduction to Avalanche Mapping(SAM) certificate or equivalent.
  • CAA Advanced Weather certificate or equivalent.
  • CAA professional Member in good standing.

Other Considerations:

  • Attendance at CAA Annual General Meetings and technical meetings.
  • Attendance at International Snow Science Workshops.
  • Academic degree in a related field (i.e. engineering, meteorology, etc.).
  • Related certifications (ACMG ski guide, UIAGM Guide, CSGA).
  • Additional years of professional experience.

Application/Registration Process

Students must apply and have their application approved prior to registering for the Level 3 program. Application information, and the link to the online application process, can all be found on the Level 3 Application webpage.


All applicants must also have 2 reference letters: Level 3 CAA Professional Member Reference Form or Level 3 Non-CAA Professional Member Reference Form.


Complete applications will be reviewed as quickly as possible, we aim for a 2 week turnaround time but this is not always possible.


Applications received by April 1 for the following Fall course offering will be considered first for course spots.  Applications received after April 1 and before the Fall course will be processed and added to the waiting list. Note: Courses run every other year in the Fall of odd numbered years. E.g. Fall 2017.


If accepted, students will be granted access to the registration system. Accepted applicants can choose to register for the first course offered or defer until a second course is offered in another season. If the second course spot is not taken then a person must reapply/update their Level 3 application.


Two separate registrations take place, one for the fall classroom portion of the course and one for the spring exam portion of the course. Separate fees are charged for these registrations, as outlined under the Tuition heading.

Tuition and Funding Opportunities

****The following are 2016-17 tuition prices****  


Fall course Canmore: $1651 (does not include exam costs)


Spring exam $882


An additional $100 registration fee is applied to International Students, for the fall course, to account for shipping costs.


The Avalanche Canada Foundation yearly offers scholarships for students. There is also the Alberta job grant and a Golden area scholarship. Many local employment centres and/or SAR groups can also help with local funding opportunities.


Course Evaluation

The Level 3 evaluation takes place in the Spring after the course and consists of two components, a written report and oral presentation describing how avalanche risk was managed in day-to-day operations using key Level 3 concepts. Please view the Level 3 Examination guidelines for full details.


Submission of the written portion of the evaluation is due in April. The oral presentation is assigned between the last week of May and first weeks of June.


In order to successfully complete the evaluation process, candidates should be actively working in the avalanche industry. A passing grade in both components, oral and written, results in the CAA Avalanche Operations Level 3 certificatet. Please view the Level 3 Examination guidelines for exam marking schemes and retest options.

Course Materials

A student course manual will be sent to the mailing address you provide during course registration. The precourse readings are extensive and very technical in nature;  Level 3 Reading List. Participants are recommended to allocate ample time prior to this course for dedicated study and preparation. If you have not received your student manual one month prior to course start then please contact the CAA office.

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