/ Freelance instruction work with an SPA?

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teh_mark - on 02 Mar 2013
I'm currently self-employed as a lighting designer and production electrician for the entertainment industry. While I have enough work to scrape by usually, I have a lot of spare time and often find myself sitting on my rear end twiddling my thumbs for days or weeks at a time. I'm thinking of a few ways to put my spare time to better use and earn some money.

One plan which crossed my mind was potentially to move to somewhere in the country, become an SPA and do some freelance instructing as a 'side job'. I can't stand large cities and would much prefer to live somewhere more rural in the South West, but I'd be hard pressed to justify the petrol money if all my work was still in London. Unfortunately I can't find any real statistics for this sort of work - unsurprisingly - so I was hoping someone might be able to shed some light on the situation for me. Is it likely to be worth it? Is there actually work out there for people only holding an SPA (or similar) during the summer, in somewhere in the South West (at least enough to cover the outlay on the qualification and equipment)? Am I stupid for even considering the idea?
highclimber - on 02 Mar 2013
In reply to teh_mark: Unfortunately the SPA alone genrally isn't enough for most people who use freelance instructors. this might be different where you are based but most providers up here in wales require SPA and Summer ML minimum. you could concievably get your own clients etc but then you have the issue of insurance and forget about working with children unless you have an AALA licence which are conveniently priced out of reach for most one-man-band insturctor. not to mention the CRB bullshine.

Good luck what ever you decide!
FB - on 02 Mar 2013
In reply to teh_mark: you would prob be best as based round london with cwa and get a job a a local wall
altadv - on 02 Mar 2013
In reply to highclimber:
We would be loking for a good range of activity qualifactions. Archery, Orineteering, Canoeing on to of ML / SPA.
bpmclimb - on 03 Mar 2013
In reply to highclimber:
> (In reply to teh_mark) Unfortunately the SPA alone genrally isn't enough for most people who use freelance instructors. this might be different where you are based but most providers up here in wales require SPA and Summer ML minimum.

I think what you describe is very specific to areas near mountains. I did ML training but never finished it off with the assessment, mostly because here in Bristol the incentive was almost completely nonexistent. There's plenty of SPA work around, but relatively little for which you'd need ML.

bpmclimb - on 03 Mar 2013
In reply to bpmclimb:

...... well, ok, there's occasional hill walking in the Brecons, and DofE stuff, but in my experience you can still be staff on those with ML training only, just not expedition leader.
JayPee630 - on 03 Mar 2013
Doable, of course, but the pay isn't great and as just an SPA you'd be quite limited to what kind of work you can do, seasonally and location wise, and it'd be very repetitive. You'd be much better off doing your ML as well, and then if you're interested working towards your MIA.

bpmclimb - on 03 Mar 2013
In reply to JayPee630:

I wouldn't doubt that having ML would give a lot more flexibility as to area. But as I say, in some areas the available work is almost entirely SPA (plus paddling, archery, etc), with ML much less in demand. I'm not making a case for ruling out ML completely, just for prioritising (depending, of course on the area he ends up in). The OP has a main job, is not considering full-time outdoor work, has mentioned the South West, and at the moment is unqualified. Unless near mountains, it would seem to make sense to get SPA first (relatively quick for someone with a climbing background, and relatively cheap), get up and running with an outdoor pursuits company; then bring in the ML process if the time and expense seem merited.

This is imagining him somewhere like Bristol. Obviously if he ended up in Snowdonia the story would be very different, and ML might well be the priority qualification (but is there much call for lighting engineers for shows in Snowdonia?)
The Ex-Engineer - on 04 Mar 2013
In reply to bpmclimb:
> This is imagining him somewhere like Bristol. Obviously if he ended up in Snowdonia the story would be very different, and ML might well be the priority qualification (but is there much call for lighting engineers for shows in Snowdonia?)

I'd say the exact opposite. There is far more ML (well at least DofE) work available all across the country, including around London and across the SW.

I don't know anyone working full-time (outside a climbing wall) as an SPA but I know numerous people working full-time off the back of their ML Summer and a DofE Assessor's ticket.

In fact you don't even need to get your ML, there is plenty of DofE expedition work available around London even if you just have WGL or BELA. It is the same all over - there are many times more kids from Avon and Somerset doing Bronze DofE expeditions in the Mendips than there will be kids going further afield to do Gold Expeditions or wanting to try rock climbing.

Unless you aim to work at a climbing wall, I'd recommend a paddling, walking, caving, sailing or mountain biking qualification over SPA in terms of employment prospects.
bpmclimb - on 04 Mar 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

Maybe. I was just going by my personal experience, in one area, working mostly for one company. I posted in the first place because my situation when I moved from London to Bristol 8 years ago pretty much replicates that of the OP (main job still on the go, travelling to London, outdoor work as a supplement).

As a long-term climber I found it quick and easy to get SPA. and get some paid work almost straightaway. There's a fair demand for SPA work in my immediate area. I subsequently did ML training, with which I got a little paid hillwalking/DofE work - couldn't be in overall charge, though. In my case, with my employers, the amount of extra work I would have picked up by being ML assessed would have been negligible.

I'd like to complete my ML sometime, mostly because I like to finish things, but I find it hard to find the preparation time and a week in which to do the course, because of the demands of my main job. SPA is much easier for a climber with a main job - much less time consuming (and much cheaper).

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stuart58 - on 05 Mar 2013
In reply to bpmclimb: you can do the ml assessment over 3 weekends

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