How to Get a Job as an Outdoor Guide

How to Get a Job as an Outdoor Guide
If you're interested in a job as an outdoor guide, you will be pleased to find guide jobs are more accessible than you may think. Today's busy people trust their precious free time to professionals, creating opportunities for employment in the outdoor recreation industry.
Outdoor guiding is a rewarding way to make a living. Guides work outside, doing what inspires them, working with people and ensuring a satisfying recreational experience. Guides get others into the outdoors, share their passions and help others discover something that may lead to a lifetime of enjoyment. Guides are customer service professionals.
These steps will guide you on your journey to getting started as an outdoor guide.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Step 1
Develop specialties, and choose more than one. Make yourself versatile, able to guide more than one outdoor activity. As much of guide work is seasonal, start by choosing activities for both summer and winter, such as rafting and skiing. Guides may also provide more than one guide service for a single company in a single season.
Step 2
Practice the activities you wish to guide and keep track of your progress. Guides should be able to provide a record of their outdoor experience and references of people they have practiced with.
Step 3
Acquire certifications and experience appropriate for the activities you wish to guide. Certifications and requirements vary by activity, region and employer. Contact organizations you want to work for and ask what they require and what in-house preemployment and on-the-job training they offer. Check with small companies and nonprofits; many adjudicated and at-risk youth programs need help and offer opportunities and training to those looking to gain experience.
Guides hoping to make a career in the outdoor industry should also consider higher education. Many colleges and universities now offer degrees in recreation and leisure studies. Guides should look for programs with an emphasis on leadership skills. Many noncollegiate organizations, such as the AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) and NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School), also offer guide training and certifications and sometimes offer college credit.
Though not always required, having a WFR (Wilderness First Responder) certification on your resume will look good to any prospective employer.
Step 4
Apply to organizations before their seasons of operation. Begin applying for winter jobs in late summer and early fall, and summer jobs in late winter and early spring. Apply in person whenever possible.
Step 5
Make yourself available. Guide work often requires guides to move frequently to follow the work. Jobs go to those who show up ready to work.

Tips & Warnings

 
Don't be intimidated by the number of possible certifications or the experienced guides you are competing with. There are plenty of opportunities available for those just getting started and willing to work. Follow your passions and don't lose sight of why you chose to guide. You can make more money doing plenty of other jobs you are not interested in. Doing what you are passionate about---and being satisfied with it---is the key to success in the guiding business. Be friendly and network. As guiding is, after all, a customer service business, prospective employers want to hire someone who will make their customers happy. When you're friendly with your coworkers, you will build your positive references, learn of future opportunities and increase your own enjoyment of your job. The outdoor recreation industry is a lifestyle industry, and that lifestyle is a positive one.
 
Don't be intimidated by the number of possible certifications or the experienced guides you are competing with. There are plenty of opportunities available for those just getting started and willing to work.
 
Follow your passions and don't lose sight of why you chose to guide. You can make more money doing plenty of other jobs you are not interested in. Doing what you are passionate about---and being satisfied with it---is the key to success in the guiding business.
 
Be friendly and network. As guiding is, after all, a customer service business, prospective employers want to hire someone who will make their customers happy. When you're friendly with your coworkers, you will build your positive references, learn of future opportunities and increase your own enjoyment of your job. The outdoor recreation industry is a lifestyle industry, and that lifestyle is a positive one.
 
High employee turnover is a common problem for many organizations in the outdoor recreation industry. Though a job may not turn out to be exactly what you had imagined, remain throughout the season---or whatever a reasonable period of time may be---to prove your work ethic and build positive references. Future employers will be leery of guides who have left other companies short.

Article Written By Sean Leary

Sean Leary has worked extensively in the recreation industry. He has a variety of outdoor interests, experiences and skills. He has also worked as a writer, photographer and editor; he holds degrees in both recreation and writing. Leary's travel and recreation experience is often reflected in his writing.

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