Avalanche Operations Level 3 - Applied Avalanche Risk Management


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 students 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 takes place every other year on even numbered years (2020*, 2022, etc.). Students are required to have completed the significant pre-course readings before course start. Review 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 assessment. Please refer to the Course Evaluation heading below for further details.

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


*The course scheduled for fall 2020 has been deferred to align with ISSW Fernie.

Program Goals

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 and prove at time of applying to the Level 3 program:

  • CAA Avalanche Operations Level 2 certificate or similar training/experience1.
  • Minimum 3 seasons of  employment/experience in avalanche work after completion of the CAA Operations Level 2 course.2
  • 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.3 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.


2 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.


3 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:

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 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 sent in on their behalf: 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 June 1 for the following Fall course offering will be considered first for course spots.  Applications received and approved after June 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 even numbered years. E.g. Fall 2020, 2022, etc.


 *Please note that the course scheduled for fall 2020 has been deferred to align with ISSW and will be in offered in Fernie fall 2021.


If accepted, students will be granted access to the registration system. Full course payment is taken at time of registration. 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 below.

Course Fees and Funding Opportunities


The following are 2019-20 course fees and location:


Fall course: Canmore: $1899 (does not include assessment costs)


Spring assessment: $919 (conducted remotely)


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


The Avalanche Canada Foundation offers yearly 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 Equipment and Materials

Upon registration all students will receive a confirmation e-mail that contains links to the course logistics information. Alternatively you can click on the course's title in the course calendar to view logistics details.


Students will be mailed a program package 1 that includes:

  • A Level 3 Student Manual & Readings; Level 3 Reading List
  • Technical Aspects of Snow Avalanche Risk Management

1 It is the student's responsibility to contact the CAA office if they have not received this package 1 month prior to course start. The package will be mailed to the address you provided during your online registration.


Pre-course readings and questions take time, 15+ hours, and must be completed prior to starting the course. The pre-course readings are extensive and very technical in nature be sure to give yourself time to digest your reading.


The Level 3 course is a classroom based course and does not require any field equipment. In your digital logistics letter you receive with registration you will find details on any necessary items to bring to course. Make sure to read this logistical letter carefully. 


Use the sample course schedule to help anticipate daily needs.

Course Evaluation

There is no formal assessment of learning during the Level 3 course. In order to obtain the Level 3 certificate, students my successfully complete an evaluation that takes place in the Spring after the classroom course. This evaluation consists of two components, a written report and oral presentation that describe 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, exam marking schemes and retest options.


Submission of the written portion of the evaluation is due in late-May. The oral presentation takes place in mid-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 certificate.







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