UTS Training Courses

UTS has developed a structured training program to enable skill level development. 
During each training session students are evaluated and are advanced accordingly. 
The five identified levels of expertise in ascending order are as follows:


A novice has attended a Track Aware Class and is learning the basics.

Track Aware
A Track Aware student knows the basics of step-by-step tracking and how to follow sign.
Tracker I
A Tracker I student can track foot print by foot print and is learning to cut for sign.
Tracker II
A Tracker 2 student knows the basics of cutting and is learning scene investigation and team management.
Sign Cutter
A Sign Cutter has successfully and consistently proven expertise in all the above areas.

Each level has listed criteria that must be achieved before being certified at that level.

UTS certification for tracking expertise is recognized universally in the United States and Canada in Search and Rescue
and by many law enforcement agencies.  The military also recognizes UTS courses in their training programs. To maintain
the credibility of certification, UTS will defend the training certification level observed for each student for two years
beyond the last evaluation.  It is the student's responsibility to maintain the training necessary to maintain their certification level.

Each level has its own curriculum which builds on the previous training level achieved. Each level will take a significant time
commitment to achieve.  Tracking expertise is developed by many hours of training as well as many hours of practice.

Course Requirements Memo
Student Registration Form
USA Train the Trainer Outline
Canadian Train the Trainer Outline
BC In House Procedures


Track Aware

Novice is the term used for a student who is new to the program and preparing for the first level of tracking certification, Track Aware. A student stays at the Novice level until they successfully complete the Track Aware training program.

Track Aware
At this entry level, students are introduced to the history, concepts and applications of tracking. UTS teaches the "step by step" method of finding sign. If students can find each successive footfall or sign indicating footfall, then, as they advance to higher levels of tracking, they will be much more productive and develop the skills necessary to be a good tracker. While learning the step-by-step method, you will be shown the subtleties of sign. You will learn to see the scrapes, scuffs, compressions, damaged vegetation, broken sticks, and much more.

The criteria for becoming Track Aware certified are as follows:

  1. Must accept the concept that wherever a person walks they leave sign

  2. Become familiar with and start using terminology found in the glossary and appropriately apply them to the sign found

  3. Be able to draw footprints found, take appropriate measurements and list any unique characteristics that can be determined

  4. Demonstrate proper use of the tracking stick

  5. Demonstrate proper team formation and each member’s function

  6. Develop communication skills and discuss the various parts of the sign seen, and listen to the team member’s discussion to mutually determine the appropriate sign

  7. Start becoming familiar with how to age sign

  8. Understand the "step-by-step" methodology of tracking




Tracker I

The Tracker I program is available to all Track Aware certified students who wish to further their skills in the tracking program and achieve the Tracker I certification. This program offers more advanced skills in tracking and develops basic multi-team sign cutting methods. At this level, students start to see the significant advantage and usefulness for tracking to be used in searches and crime scene investigations. Students will learn the skills to start moving sign in a controlled but more efficient and more rapid manner while emphasizing using the basic skills learned in the Track Aware training. Communication skills will become an even more important factor, and common sense and reasoning will become essential. Interviewing techniques and report writing will be introduced.


The criteria for Tracker I certification is as follows:

  1. Demonstrate ability to work with two or more teams to efficiently follow the appropriate line of sign
  2. Demonstrate cutting techniques
  3. Be able to isolate the appropriate sign from other sign
  4. Demonstrate communication ability in multi-team exercises
  5. Experience basic crime scene or search scenarios using cutting teams
  6. Expand knowledge and usage of the tracking glossary
  7. Develop ability to age sign
  8. Be able to describe and use best sign cutting areas
  9. Be able to assist in instructing Novice students and work as team leader
  10. Become familiar with taking field notes




Tracker II

The Tracker II program is available to all certified Tracker I or higher students. This program provides significantly advanced training to enable the student who is committed to tracking a skill level that will allow them to participate and lead most any tracking operation presented. Emphasis will be focused on analyzing the mission and enhancing skills in communication, common sense and reasoning, leadership, and teamwork. At this level, students will be expected to move sign much more rapidly but with discipline, control, and accuracy. Students will be allowed much more autonomy and will be challenged to make decisions with minimal input from instructors. Combining all of the training obtained in the previous levels will be essential with a strong reliance on the basics.

The criteria for Tracker II certification is as follows:

  1. Demonstrate leadership
        Organize a mission
        Assist and integrate lesser experienced team members
  2. Demonstrate ability to get a mission started
        Location PLS
        Team formation and assigned responsibilities
        Conduct briefings and debriefings
  3. Demonstrate use of multi-team tracking
  4. Know and use appropriate glossary terms
  5. Demonstrate ability to age sign
  6. Develop communication logistics in a practice mission
  7. Be able to work a multi-mission scenario
  8. Develop ability to move sign rapidly with available resources
  9. Demonstrate how to locate point last seen (PLS) or starting point and determine direction of travel
  10. Develop interviewing techniques during scenario training
  11. Identify report writing criteria and the inclusion of information from field notes




Sign Cutter

Sign Cutter is the highest level of certification provided by UTS at this time. Those wanting to achieve this level will be challenged to use all of their previous training and demonstrate their ability to track an individual (or individuals) through and during many different aspects. The scenarios will contain many different challenges, which will task the student to use basic as well as advance skills to accomplish. There will be no one who has at least achieved the Tracker II level who cannot achieve this level. However, the student will have to demonstrate, significantly, their ability to follow and describe difficult and complex sign.

The criteria for becoming Sign Cutter certified are as follows:

  1. Demonstrate high level of tracking (seeing sign and following it) ability.
  2. Practice strong teamwork ethics.
  3. Use and understand tracking vocabulary while tracking.
  4. Demonstrate ability to analyze and interpret difficult and confusing sign.
  5. Debrief and document the scenarios accurately and completely.
  6. Demonstrate appropriate decision making.
  7. Demonstrate and promote the value of tracking.
  8. Enjoy the success.




Actual tracking missions can pose numerous complications and confusing circumstances. Most UTS students have already experienced these situations and have adapted. This level of instruction is geared toward making these missions easier and/or more efficiently accomplished. The main issue that will make tracking easier at this level is the ability to maintain an open mind. Developing tunnel vision while methodically following sign will many times cause the obvious to be overlooked. There are times that the person being tracked may know something about tracking, or the person being tracked will do something (doubling back, side step, change shoes, walk in circles, etc.) that do not make sense. However, with the training achieved so far, these circumstances can be overcome.

No one can walk so carefully for very long that some sign cannot be found. The student’s cutting training will allow for that sign to eventually be found by ever widening cuts and completing the cuts. The same can be done for those being followed who are making confusing sign. Common sense and reasoning will be extremely important in working this kind of sign.

This training will include scenarios that will necessitate much more attention being paid to detail. This will allow teams to tell "the story" of what took place during the tracking scenario. The goal will not only be completing the line(s) of sign, but will also be interpreting what happened during the entire exercise and document such.

In essence, this training will attempt to put all of the student’s training and expertise to the test. Being able to successfully accomplish this level of training, with continued practice, puts the student in a position to approach almost any tracking circumstance with confidence and a high probability of success.

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UTS Glossary

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