Not everyone is working for the weekend. Plenty of job opportunities exist that will catapult you into an adventure everyday. Some are customer service oriented, others are physically demanding and almost every great adventure job requires advanced certifications and experience.
Getting the Gig
The best jobs out there are extremely competitive. Securing a few solid references is critical, especially if they are connected and respected within the industry. You can also position yourself ahead of the pack by voluntarily gaining certifications in advance. Basic CPR and First Aid serve as a baseline and are always required for field positions. Wilderness First Responder is one that every outdoor job position respects. The course is a great experience and one you will never regret anyways. Swiftwater Rescue is imperative for jobs on rivers and coast guard certifications are often required for running boats in coastal areas. Deckhands and support staff will have less stringent requirements but manning a vessel comes with some serious responsibility.
Working Your Way Up
Everyone starts somewhere and getting a foot in the door is important. Support staff roles are easier to obtain and they present the opportunity to prove your work ethic and desire to grow within a specific company. When applying for these jobs, make your intent for advancement clear. You can run shuttles and row the gear boats before advancing to a guide status. Knowing every aspect of an operation is a bonus in the long run.
Whitewater Raft Guides
Running whitewater on a daily basis is hard to beat for adventure. Numerous outfits provide training for rookie guides and start you on mild runs and day trips. The most coveted positions are found on multi-day trips in locations like the Grand Canyon and Middle Fork of the Salmon. Get your feet wet and this path can take you all over the world. You might run the Rogue River in Oregon all summer then head south to Chile for a winter on the Futaleufú.
Backcountry Canoe Guides
If you prefer a slower pace and are an educated naturalist, consider leading wilderness canoe trips. These jobs are few and far between so plan on researching heavily to find an outfitter with openings. Active operations are running in Yellowstone National Park, the Boundary Waters, numerous areas in Canada and Alaska as well.
Backpacking Guide Jobs
Spend a summer leading backpacking trips and you will be in great shape. The majority of these positions are located in National Parks and you are responsible for the safety and well being of your guests. This means setting a comfortable pace for everyone, educating the group and managing a number of different personalities. You will deal with logistics and meals in advance and have difficult situations like injuries in remote settings. Overall however, you are backpacking in some of the most beautiful places on earth.
Alaska Fishing Guides
Imagine running jet boats up braided rivers and landing trout and salmon next to feeding bears. Inland fishing guide jobs offer true wilderness adventures. Experience fishing with conventional and fly gear is important. You will also need a OUPV (Six Pack) coast guard license to run boats under power. Some outfitters will pay for the coast guard license course ($1k+) and travel, others will reimburse the expense for finishing the season and some expect you to show up licensed and ready. Pay varies but tips are where you really make out in these jobs. Apply early as the positions are competitive.
Wildland firefighters work extremely hard to protect our forests. Long hours, physical work, difficult conditions and adversity are part of the deal. You can make great money with unlimited overtime on big fires. Hot shot crews are excellent but not easy to crack. Forest service and state jobs are popular with tons of different job roles. You might drive a water truck, work the front lines, transport staff or cook at the campsites. Get started by locating a physical test course. After passing the physical you receive a red card and can pursue advanced educational courses while applying for private or public sector jobs.