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WFR by NOLS vs SOLO
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Mar 18, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Tsunami Wall
I'd like to take the Wilderness First Responder course but the one offered by SOLO is almost $200 cheaper than the one by NOLS in my area. Does any rock guide or SPI know whether or not the industry (both in the US and internationally) would accept/honor WFR certification by either SOLO or NOLS or only NOLS? I have never heard of SOLO before but it might be because they're mainly based on the East Coast.

Thanks.
Spidey Rocks
From San Francisco
Joined Apr 10, 2015
15 points
Mar 19, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Outrage Wall. Potrero Chico, Mexico.
It is NOT required that WFR be taught by NOLS. DrRockso
From Red River Gorge, KY
Joined Sep 3, 2013
195 points
Mar 19, 2016
It's quite likely that most businesses would accept the WFR from SOLO, it isn't a monopoly held by WMI the same way AHA owns CPR certifications. What is nice about WMI is that if you take a course from them, they will allow you to recertify a year or so after your certification expires if life gets in the way. That can be worth more than $200 if your cert lapses. If you can stay on top of things then SOLO is probably a good deal.
Hope that helps
Jon Rhoderick
Joined Jul 21, 2009
823 points
Mar 21, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: On Playing Hookey, The Tombstone
Jon Rhoderick wrote:
What is nice about WMI is that if you take a course from them, they will allow you to recertify a year or so after your certification expires if life gets in the way. That can be worth more than $200 if your cert lapses. If you can stay on top of things then SOLO is probably a good deal. Hope that helps


Important note is that SOLO WFR certifications are active for three years. A WMI cert is active for two years, with a one year grace period. SOLO could save you money in the long run, since you only have to recertify every three years to keep an active cert, whereas WMI requires recert every other year to stay active. SOLO and WMI will recert each other with no issue.

I've taken all my original certification courses from SOLO, from WFA to W-EMT, and have been consistently happy with their curriculum, staff and service.

One other SOLO bonus, not super relevant to the original question: SOLO WFR recertification courses are done in two long days, rather than three days (WMI and pretty much everyone else). Pretty nice if you have a weekday job and want to get the recert done on a weekend.
Adamant D
From Boulder, CO
Joined Apr 19, 2010
5 points
Mar 21, 2016
I've taken both and prefer SOLO. I've also had no problems with organizations accepting SOLO certs; in fact, I've had to recert with WMI after my initial SOLO cert and there was no problem crossing over. Good luck! JaminT
From Jackson, WY
Joined Jul 11, 2012
2 points
Mar 21, 2016
The other benefit of SOLO WFR is that once you have the cert if you want to get a W-EMT cert from SOLO, they offer a discounted course to upgrade to W-EMT. DRusso
Joined May 25, 2014
34 points
Mar 21, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Tsunami Wall
Thanks to all who have responded. Very helpful information! Turns out there was an old thread on Mtn Project regarding whether NOLs vs SOLO. The majority of the people on that thread seemed to prefer NOLS course over SOLO. But with a $200 difference, I might go with SOLO. Spidey Rocks
From San Francisco
Joined Apr 10, 2015
15 points
Mar 21, 2016
Most companies that require a WFR certification for employment require a certain length of course. The company I work for requires a minimum of an 80-hour course. Doesn't matter who certifies, so long as the course consists of at least 80 hours of training. TBrumme
From denver, co
Joined Dec 14, 2011
234 points
Mar 22, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Gyroscope (photo: Bryan Wilson)
Just a piece of info to throw on the pile...
If you are planning to work strictly for other companies, and not planning on doing your own promotion, then you might just take the cheaper option. But if you plan to branch out and produce your own clients, then the NOLS name is great to have. Tons of people recognize it, perhaps even more than the AMGA ticket.
Alex Bury
From Ojai, CA
Joined Jun 29, 2012
2,037 points
Mar 22, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Tsunami Wall
Those are some good points to consider. Thanks, guys! Spidey Rocks
From San Francisco
Joined Apr 10, 2015
15 points
Mar 23, 2016
Other notable information:

SOLO is one of the only wilderness medicine educator that is completely unaffiliated with any other educational/guiding outfit. Wilderness medicine is what they do, plain and simple.

SOLO invented WFR and is the longest continually operating wilderness medicine organization in the game
Max Koenig
From Athens, GA
Joined Mar 7, 2013
10 points
Mar 23, 2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Tsunami Wall
Thanks, MaxwellK. But what does all of this actually mean in practice for the student? What benefits do these distinctions confer to the student/prospective SPI? Spidey Rocks
From San Francisco
Joined Apr 10, 2015
15 points
Mar 23, 2016
I feel like WMI gets a lot of credit because it is associated with NOLS and SOLO often seems like the lesser of the two in comparison. I think that many people don't realize that SOLO is at least an equivalent provider of wilderness medical instruction.

Basically: if the SOLO course is cheaper, I would for sure do that one.

Now to be transparent, I've done WFA a few times, WFR once, and I am about to start a WEMT with SOLO. I did a NOLS course many years ago and I think highly of both organizations. I would just be wary of the "NOLS-it-all" attitude, especially in the western half of the US.
Max Koenig
From Athens, GA
Joined Mar 7, 2013
10 points
Mar 23, 2016
for what it is worth, for YOUR overall education, 200 dollars is not much. I took my initial course through NOLS/WMI, did my re-cert through SOLO and will be doing my re-cert again through WMI this spring. In my opinion SOLO was just ok and the teachers w. WMI were phenomenal. Remember, this is not about saving 200 dollars or when you can re-cert, but about your own personal knowledge, helping people and maybe even being a part of saving a life. No one here has mentioned the over all baseline education they have gotten from the program. What I have witnessed, SOLO just got me in and out the door. GroundTarp
Joined May 16, 2013
30 points
Mar 23, 2016
GroundTarp wrote:
for what it is worth, for YOUR overall education, 200 dollars is not much. I took my initial course through NOLS/WMI, did my re-cert through SOLO and will be doing my re-cert again through WMI this spring. In my opinion SOLO was just ok and the teachers w. WMI were phenomenal. Remember, this is not about saving 200 dollars or when you can re-cert, but about your own personal knowledge, helping people and maybe even being a part of saving a life. No one here has mentioned the over all baseline education they have gotten from the program. What I have witnessed, SOLO just got me in and out the door.


That's funny. I've also taken both and had the exact opposite experience. Maybe it was just the individual instructors.

As far as content, in theory both groups ( and any other WFR providers) teach roughly the same material. It's all supposed to be to the standards of the Wilderness Medecine Society. Each group has their own nuances as far as what particular aspects they emphasize the most and how the roleplaying/scenarios get done and what the split is between lectures and hands/on practice.

For the extra $200, I don't think you'll notice that much of a difference.
Stagg54
Joined Dec 12, 2006
7 points


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