Do we know each other? I'll pretend we don't. These are really good, FAQ's so I'll respond:
What if I only want to Guide in the Sierra, Tetons or the Whites in the North East and not Internationally?
Awesome. Why do you need certification then?
Why do I need to go through the entire prolonged Alpine Guide program schedule (up to 3 years) and spend over $15K to get my AMGA "Alpine Cert"?
Sounds like you don't. None of those mountain areas require certification to guide, although increasingly, some guide services are requiring it of their employees.
Why do I need to get cert'd in an environment that I never intend to practice/climb/guide in i.e. The Glacier filled Cascades?
Sounds like you don't. The US has 3 disciplines: rock, alpine, and ski. If you don't want to guide on glaciated mountain terrain, and you don't need the alpine cert to conduct your business, then clearly the price tag is going to seem very high. Courses and exams rotate venues and skills should be transferrable to similar environments. They are not all in the N Cascades.
What young dirtbag climber on a strict budget eating PBJs and driving a 20 year old rig w/250k miles, can afford that??
Honestly, I don't know, but they keep coming. Maybe they are the same dirtbag high school graduates that eat Ramen and can somehow afford a college education?
So you equate the modern expensive AMGA course with quality????
A bit biased aren't we?
I think I fully admitted to my own bias. Sometimes you get what you pay for. It seems that more often than not I have seen that students feel they got full value. Occasionally, they are dissatisfied. We have learned a lot from those times. I see dissatisfaction more often on exams than on courses, generally from failing candidates.
Sounds like an attempt to monopolize the Cert Industry in the U.S. to me.
I believe that we need some new Org's here in the U.S. to compete with the astronomical and inflated prices of the AMGA.
I also believe that some competition in the Industry would promote more simpler and area specific Certs. Something that the AMGA originally did BITD.
In most professions there is one certifying body. This gives increased credibility. The AMGA does have lower level (and cheaper) certs as well and the Rock program is currently under a major restructure that will create courses and certs that you might find more interesting for your situation. I personally think regional courses and certs would split hairs unnecessarily, and it would be very difficult for an organization to develop and oversee. The risk there is that standards become inconsistent and diluted. This does not help promote a meaningful credential. That's just my opinion.
Remember, as long as "Standardization" across the board is the goal, the AMGA should not be worrying about these up & coming Programs that afford QUALITY Instruction/Certing to those of us that are on a very limited budget and wish to guide in certain locales.
I don't know if the AMGA is worried so much about the alternative products as much as the marketing challenge. Marketing the AMGA brand is important for making progress toward certification-based access. Achieving such access should be the ultimate goal of the AMGA in my opinion, and not everyone within the AMGA may agree with me on that. I say Kudos to other quality programs, especially if they can do it cheaper. I have not seen the others, but I have doubts that these other organizations have the same level of history, support, and infrastructure to pull of courses of the same caliber as the AMGA. I can definitively say that the educational development arms of both alternative organizations (especially the PCGI) are microscopic in comparison to that of the AMGA with respect to guiding experience, guiding credentials, and guide training experience. Hands down, no comparison.
I still say, if the others are innovating, why not join with the AMGA to create a unified effort? I say the Certification Industry / free market discussion is just a smoke screen to protect egos and personal opportunities. When the AMGA slowly starts addressing all of the criticisms against it, what then will be your excuse for not joining?