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Jobs in the Outdoor Industry

Hi everyone. I stumbled upon this site last night and thought it was interesting and might be useful.



Good post. The hardest parts of having an outdoor career are finding jobs and keeping them. They tend to be underfunded and temporary in nature, not to mention seasonal.

You'd have to differentiate between an 'outdoor career' and working in the 'outdoor industry'. I think I'd take the latter choice.

Most of the jobs they're posting on the site seem to be in retail. Selling outdoor gear keeps you in contact with the people who are getting out there, but you usually have to work on weekends and holidays, severely restricting your access to the outdoors unless you want to go on your own. Other jobs posted are in travel or tourism, which often means you're working in a resort town with access to the trails, but they have the same drawbacks. Some of the jobs will be year-round, and the pay can be fairly decent. 

There is a big difference between going hiking when you want at places you choose, and working at a job that just happens to be located outside. I spent a winter working on the muskeg in Northern Alberta, and while the scenery was interesting enough, the work was hard, cold and tedious. I also ran a mining crew for a few years out on some salt lakes, and the heat in summer and cold in winter became enemies. I remember some beautiful moments, but just because the work was outdoors didn't take away from the fact that it was still hard work. Advantages: both jobs paid well, and the work was year-round. 

That includes the tour companies and guiding organizations, and the different government departments. Even the wardens in the National Parks have specific chores to do. They might be rebuilding a footbridge or clearing a trail with a chainsaw, or just collecting fees at the park gates. The location might be nice, but either way, it can become 'just a job'. 

I love what I do...Director of Adventure Education. I spent yesterday clearing a fallen tree off a hiking trail. This morning I did team building activities with a group of adults  out in the woods. Monday, I'll be back on my high ropes course.

The reality is the pay is low. For 10 years I was the director of a camp for inner-city kids. I worked 60-70 hours a week in exchange for housing, utilities, and $900/month. In my current job, I'm above the poverty line, but I still make less than a first year school teacher--who gets most weekends and the summer off.

BUT, I can't think of anything I'd rather do. At least, not at this time.

I still say a bad day working outdoors is better than a good day working in the office. I HATE my office days!

I agree 100%, Goose. It sounds like you have a lot of variety in the tasks you do at work. 

I sympathize with the people who go to live in the mountains, then wind up driving a shuttle bus filled with tourists over the same route every day. Many people manage to keep their interest and excitement levels up by learning more about the area they live in - its wildlife, geology and flora - but others succumb to the routine and get bored and disillusioned. 

I spent some summers guiding teenagers on canoe and hiking trips in and around the Adirondacks.  I loved that job and still have fond memories of it.  

I'm happy with my current job, but if i hit the lottery someday.....

leadbelly2550 said:

I'm happy with my current job, but if i hit the lottery someday.....

Actually, now that I don't HAVE to do it to pay my way, I can go whereever and whenever I want, and I don't have to worry about babysitting a large group of tourists. That makes a huge difference. 

And if I won the lottery, I'd still be going the same places. 

I had an outdoor career as a scientist but never wanted any part of working with the public or tourists in particular. People tend to ask the same questions over and over again. I have met many people in outdoor retail, hospitality and tourist businesses that seemed pretty happy about living in  beautiful places.

In college I used to work in the woods every day.  The last thing I wanted to do after work was go play in the woods.  An outdoor career runs the risk that it might ruin a perfectly good hobby.  Some types of doctors mention this same effect.


It is a slippery slope.

November 24, 2020
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