We don't "officially" have a level 4 in the Rockies, but we have what we call "Trainer Accredited." It is a significant step beyond Level 3 (Full Certification) in its skiing and teaching demands, and it definitely emphasizes the unique requirements of training instructors. But we do not, currently, call it "Level 4," and as John D. says, it is not recognized nationally.
Our Trainer Accreditation came about as a way to inspire and validate training and accomplishment well beyond Level 3. Prior to TA, if you wanted recognition for "the next level," you had to become a DCL (Divisional Clinic Leader) and work for the Division. But there were far more qualified candidates than job openings, so many who were "at the level" nevertheless failed the "exam"--which was really a selection process.
TA is an true exam, not a selection. Because it simply recognizes a level of accomplishment and skill, there is no restriction on the number of TA's who can pass. In theory, it recognizes the same standard of skiing and teaching required for DCL, and the original concept called for DCL's to be selected by interview from the TA pool, as needed. As it turned out, we still have a rigorous on-snow selection process for DCL. And another for Apprentice Examiner, once you have served as a DCL for a while.
Like many divisions and National too, we are currently debating the wisdom of developing an official, actual "Level 4." It is an incredibly political issue--many current Level 3's would suddenly find themselves no longer at "the top"--for better, or for worse. While I suspect most of those who would complain are the ones who have decided that they no longer need to continue to learn, once they reach Level 3 (an attitude I despise), I can appreciate their concern, too.
My feeling is that we should return to ONE single level that we identify as "Certified." This level must represent the minimum standard that we are comfortable promoting as a consistently high-quality "product" to the public. We can--and should--continue to recognize intermediate steps along the way to that standard, and we must recognize that it doesn't stop there, and provide opportunities and recognition for endless continued education. But we have caused so many problems and so much confusion among the public with our complex "Level 1-2-3"--and beyond--certification that it serves little useful purpose.
As John D has explained, PSIA National has defined standards for Level 1, 2, and 3 certification, and the pins are transferrable between divisions. Beyond Level 3, every division does its own thing, although "Examiner" is universal (if not standardized). "Examiner" has traditionally transferred from one division to another, too, although that is changing. In Rocky Mountain, examiners transferring in must attend our Apprentice Examiner selection. If successful, they become Apprentice Examiners, who must observe exams, deliver several clinics, and then be approved by the Alpine Committee before being accepted as full Examiners. If they FAIL the Apprentice Examiner selection, they get Trainer Accredited status, and must then go through the DCL selection, and so on, to become examiners.
It's not easy, any more, to transfer in to Rocky Mountain!
By-the-way, WVSkier--that was a great article you wrote about your exam experience and suggestions in the PSIA-E newsletter. I've been meaning to congratulate you on that--as well as on your success in the exam! There are a few things that you guys do differently in your exams that I like--we may incorporporate some of them in Rocky Mountain. Thanks!
PS--I've also been meaning to ask you--how DID you deal with those conflicting student needs in that hypothetical exam lesson?