The PTGA is a federally recognized 501(c)6 non-profit Professional Industry Association for polar guides and expedition cruise industry guides. We assess competence against, our Polar Qualifications Framework (ISO:21102 compliant) and criterion referenced syllabi. Assessment, skills measurement and a framework of professional qualifications relevant to polar guiding and expedition cruise operations are the core of our mission.

Become a Member as a polar professional (Polar Pro) and you will have access to our qualification system (Polar Guide, Senior Polar Guide and Assessor), educational resources, gear Pro Deals with a variety of brands and products and current information and social media access that working professionals need to not only do their job, but to continually get better at it.

You can join the PTGA at anytime and you will get an annual reminder that your subscription is due on the date you joined.



These criterion referenced assessments are the foundation of our existence and measuring tools of technical competency. Polar Qualifications represent a collection of skill sets crucial to the work and responsibilities of a polar tourism or expedition cruise guide/naturalist. They have been vetted by long-time industry professionals and external agencies. Polar Qualifications undergo review every year by industry representatives and our Technical Sub-Committee at our Qualifications Review Meeting in April.

All Qualifications have value in their own right.

In order to achieve Polar Guide status you must have five Qualifications. In order to achieve Senior Polar Guide status you must have all the entry level Qualifications, a collection of Advanced PQs oe Endorsements and extra logged time supporting your experience (see Qualifications Framework).

We recognize the diverse range of roles across the polar tourism platform and that some roles may not need every qualification. We do believe that to offer full performance in every aspect of modern polar guiding it is preferable to work towards a full Senior Polar Guide level of operation. These levels represent a full commitment to a robust level of performance, knowledge and code of conduct across all skill-sets required by the industry throughout the polar north and south. A fully certified guide is a thoroughly vetted industry professional, has been acknowledged as competent in all facets of polar-guide craft and upholds the standards of operation and Code of Conduct required by a bona-fide profession and professional association.


There are a number of ways to gain Polar Qualifications but PTGA membership is mandatory before starting.

Members decide which qualifications they would like to gain and apply to be assessed via a range of options.

Assessment Options

There are three physical assessment options and two POE options:

1. Accredited Provider – Workplace Based Assessment

The most realistic and cost effective way to assess polar guides is at their place of work, doing their daily job. A Company can apply to become a PTGA Accredited Provider and have their own assessors on staff, or hire free-lancers, to administer the examinations in real time. This means many staff can be assessed over a short period of time without disrupting any commercial activities.

2. Open Assessment

Some PQs and assessments don’t have to be completed in the polar environment. This traditional form of assessment, scheduled and advertised by the PTGA or its endorsed agents could mix candidates from different companies/organisations who meet the course prerequisites and present themselves at a set location/date to be assessed on any applicable PQs. Contact us for information.

3. Free Range Assessment

Any company, group of individuals or single individual can hire a freelance PTGA Assessor to run an assessment/s at their choice of time, location or place of work. It becomes and independent negotiation between the Assessor and client. Contact us for information.




An assessor is a well vetted industry professional capable of assessing against criterion referenced standards (our PQs).

There are many benefits to Companies having their own in-house assessors and there are benefits for Assessors in those Companies as well as the free market. Assessors have more resources and opportunities available to them because of their commitment and skill level.