How to become a Certified Belayer

By | August 26, 2023
How to become a certified belayer
To become a belayer, trainings are needed to develop relevant expertise and skills.

How to become a Certified Belayer

If you are interested in mountain climbing, then you might want to become a belayer and provide life-saving support to climbers.

This post provides information about the belaying career and shows you how to become a certified belayer, including the training and certification programs you need to take.

But first …

Who is a Belayer?

Belay is the place where a belayer is anchored. A belayer is one who belays, while belaying implies using various techniques by climbers to stop a falling climber from falling very far.

Training and Career Pathway for Belayers

Getting trained in your belaying career will give you the experience you need to survive inevitable challenges.

By learning various belaying procedures on a practical environment, you will have less difficulty to face as you advance in your career.

1. Parent Belay Course

The two-hour Parent Belay Course consists of different belaying techniques for those under training. The course teaches various belay methods and tactics.

There is nothing more like belay safety and caution, for without these and other helping guidelines, you may end up not getting all you want from belaying.

The Parent Belay Course costs £30 with one year membership included. And you must be 18 years and above before you can join this training program. Your instructors must be satisfied with your competence at the end of the training.

These are what you are going to learn from Parent Belay Course:

  • Using auto-belays
  • Holding falls and lowering the climber
  • Correct and safe belaying
  • Putting on a harness
  • Tying a figure-of-eight knot with stopper knot

How to Obtain Certification in Belaying

Obtaining certification in belaying brings you global recognition and honor. You can never imagine the great importance of earning certification until you get one.

Here are some belay certification programs you can take:

  • VR Top-Rope Certification Test

To belay in the Vertical Rock facility, you must successfully pass the VR belay safety test and be 13 years or older.

Before you can belay, you must request and complete at the front desk immediately upon arriving at the VR facility the belay certification test. You must take the test before engaging in any climbing activity.
The requirement of the Belay Certification Test is that a climber demonstrates the following procedures successfully:

  • Demonstrate the rope on belay.
  • Put the harness on, and carefully tie it into the harness using a Figure Eight Retrace knot with a back up.
  • Make safety examinations before climbing.
  • Maintain hand brake at all times for effective belay.
  • Demonstrate proper lowering technique.
  • VR Lead Climbing and Lead Belay Certification.

Any person who wants to lead climb or lead belay in Vertical Rock facility must follow the procedures and rules.
Lead climbers are made to take both the lead test and top rope test, and they must be 15 years or older for belayers, or have management approval.

Lead belay test must be done with ATC/tube style device. Gri Gri’s are allowed to be used after successful completion of test. All lead tests are done on 5.9 or greater routes.

  • The PCIA Certification Program

The Professional Climbing Instructors Association (PCIA) was launched in 2007 to help climbers and belayers with courses that exposed the fundamental climbing knowledge and skills for instructors, climbers, and belayers working in gyms, single pitch, and top-rope atmosphere.

The training creates environmental friendliness, more climbing information and techniques, and safety for new and inexperienced climbers.

The levels of programs offered by PCIA are:

  • Climbing Site Belayer: This course program helps participants develop good personal and professional climbing habits at the beginning of their climbing instructor development and corrects several climbing myths. It is a 10-hour core curriculumwhich grants participants who demonstrate competence in core skills a one-year Climbing Site Belayer Certification.
  • Climbing Wall Instructor Course: The skills acquired from the PCIA Climbing Wall Instructor (CWI) Course are essential for teaching indoor climbing or artificial rock climbing. Participants will be tested on their core knowledge and ability to successfully instruct and coach related skills.
  • Base Managed Instructor: The PCIA Base Managed Climbing Instructor (BMCI) is an entry-level outdoor course durable for three days, with an addition of optional exam day for individuals looking for BMCI Certification. The knowledge and skills needed by recreational climbers to move into the role of a professional climbing instructor may be gotten from BMCI course program.
  • Top Managed Instructor/Single Pitch Instructor: The PCIA Top Managed Climbing Instructor (TMCI) course is a one-day module for extending individual capacities to sites managed from the top to ward off the effect of bringing a class to the base, or for other site purposes. Moreover, skills of raising systems and safe lowering from the top are also covered from TMCI course. Participants in this module may attain TMCI certification. Also, people who have attained lead climbing ability at a 5.6 level will be awarded the certificate of a PCIA Single Pitch Climbing Instructor (SPCI).
  • Lead Climbing Instructor: The PCIA Lead Climbing Instructor (LCI) course is a two-day training program for competent single pitch climbers who have the zeal to learn the more intensive skills in collaboration with lead climbing and instructing to lead. The LCI course makes better basic instructional skills, moving well above all single pitch courses and requiring participants to prove their comfortable lead 5.8 routes using artificial gear to protect a climb and instruct anchors.
  • Site Verification: The Site Verification runs for specialized programs such as summer camps or other associations that offer limited climbing instruction at a single site using the same staff. These programs enhance climbing experiences in which the staff mainly belays participants and do not teach rock climbing skills such as belaying and anchor construction. Site Verification is hard to comprehend and merely focuses training on specific climbing activities in the rock climbing career.
  • West Chester University

At West Chester University, you can sign up to take belay classes at the Climbing Wall during usual hours, and classes are held during all shifts following monitor availability. You must attend full hour fifteen minutes and sign up at the climbing wall to reserve a date and time for Climbing Wall monitor availability.

If you had received a belay certification card during previous semester, you might have to take pass/fail belay Challenge test in place of taking a class. As you pass, you will receive a 2015 sticker for your red belay certification card.

Here are Belay Procedure Policies:

  • Floor anchors must be used.
  • Belayers must be trained through the Campus Recreation Department.
  • Belayers must remain standing at all times, not belaying from a sitting position.
  • Trained belayers must be on record with the Campus Recreation Department.
  • Standing on the rope is prohibited as this can be risky for both the climber and the belayer, and may destroy the rope.
  • No figure-of-eight belays, ATCs or Muenter hitch allowed; only Gri Gris.
  • Climbing commands must be used properly before and during climbing for the safety of the climber, belayer and the others.
  • Belayers must not use force when lowering climbers, but in a smooth and controlled manner.
  • Belayers must be properly anchored in order to safely handle the weight of a falling climber.
  • Incorrect belaying must be noted and corrected, and repetition could result to the belayer retaking the belaying test.
  • All participants are required to display proper belaying techniques each semester, and pass the belay test before using the wall.

Licensure in Belaying

Licensure in belaying can vary greatly according to state of operation, each state having its own licensing procedures and requirements.

All you have to do to get a license is to locate any licensing office in the state where you work as a belayer and register therein.

The YMCA Belay License

The Top Rope Belay License grants the applicant the title to use the Climbing Wall unsupervised. It is a demonstration that they have the necessary skills, knowledge, and prowess to do this safely, understanding the risks and responsibilities involved. The minimum age for a YMCA Belay License is15 years, valid for one year and costs $20.50.

A renewed License is usually issued free of charge if assessed again before the expiry date. An out-of-date license attracts $20.50 for a replacement. A yearly belay test is a proof of current skill maintenance and awareness of changes in current procedures.

Some things to take note of are:

  • Both Climber and Belayer must hold a valid belay license to climb unsupervised.
  • Any person without a belay license must never be taken for climbing except if he/she is your child.
  • A belay license can be revoked if unsafe or incorrect behaviors or techniques are noticed.
  • A belay license does not permit you to lead climb unsupervised.

Job Duties and Responsibilities of Belayers

The belayer should know his/her duties and responsibilities and apply them for the safety of the climber. His/her duties may not be so conspicuous, but will always determine a successful belaying.

The Duties and Responsibilities of a belayer include:

  • Locking off the rope in the belay device whenever the climber is not moving
  • Making sure that the climber has the right amount of rope in excess
  • Slacking the rope little and not too wide to avoid falling
  • Monitoring the climber’s situation in a close range
  • Watching the climber closely by standing well back from the rock when belaying on overhanging bolted routes especially indoors
  • Standing near to the bottom of the route when belaying a lead climber who is making use of traditional protection
  • Standing not too far away from the rock or bottom of the climber.

The Average Salaries of Belayers

$29,000 is the average median salary for Rock Wall Belay Jobs, which can vary according to company of work, experience, and location.

$17,000 is the average Belay Performance Salary, $31000 being the average belay staff salary in Somerville, MA, and $40000 the average staff belayer salary in Northvale, NJ.

For climbers who work 33 hours a week, nearly 75% earn under $30,000 and still 99% said they like their jobs. Imagine the paycheck flowing non-stop.

In Atlanta, GA, the typical average salary of a YMCA Atlanta Rock climbing belayer ranges from $9 per hour.

The average salary of Belay Development employees is $43,000 per year or $21 per hour, being 35 percent lower than the national average salary of $61,000 per year.


To be a belayer, you need to develop certain expertise and skills, which the training and certification programs mentioned above will help you to achieve.

Did you find this post useful in becoming a certified belayer? Please, make your comment in the box below; and if you have other information helpful for a successful career in belaying, please share it too.