Careers for Outdoor Adventurers

park-rangerThere’s an old adage that goes some­thing like this: If you love what you do, you’ll nev­er work a day in your life. Well, if you love the out­doors there are cer­tain­ly career paths you can take to immerse your­self in the day in and day out. There aren’t a ton of options, but these will get your out­side where you want to be.

Out­door Adven­ture Guide
If you’ve got a pas­sion for shar­ing your love of the out­doors with oth­ers this might be the best fit for you. An Adven­ture Guide leads begin­ners on a trip through a vari­ety of out­door adven­tures of your choosing—you can lead kayak­ing trips, hik­ing and white­wa­ter raft­ing or canoe­ing. You’ve got to be okay with babysit­ting not just chil­dren but also adults because there are prob­a­bly going to be some ques­tion­able char­ac­ters along the way, but if you’re a proven leader and knowl­edge­able about your sport you should do great.

Require­ments: Adven­ture Guides need some sort of wilder­ness med­i­cine qual­i­fi­ca­tions, which are easy to get through out­fits like the Amer­i­can Red Cross. You may also need to look into sport-spe­cif­ic out­door cer­ti­fi­ca­tion require­ments to prove that you’re qual­i­fied to lead a group of peo­ple on what­ev­er adven­ture you might be tak­ing them on. Luck­i­ly, no col­lege nec­es­sary for this one!

Park and Wildlife Naturalist
Maybe you enjoy a lit­tle adven­ture out­doors but you’re also wor­ried about the impact sports to have on the envi­ron­ment. You should prob­a­bly look into a career as a Park and Wildlife Nat­u­ral­ist. Nat­u­ral­ists are sci­en­tists who devise ways to pro­tect and pre­serve geo­graph­i­cal areas like forests, parks and moun­tain regions. You’ll be sur­round­ed by the out­doors while sav­ing them at the same time.

Require­ments: Aside from a nat­ur­al curios­i­ty about the out­doors and a lit­tle bit of sci­en­tif­ic nerd cred you’ll also need a bachelor’s degree in a field like Botany, Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence or Out­door Recre­ation to get you start­ed. Most of the work you’ll find will be gov­ern­ment positions—think of the benefits!—and you’ll spend a lot of your time teach­ing kids and oth­er groups about things like cli­mate change and the impor­tance of recycling.

Climb­ing Instructor
Those who can do should also teach. Much like an adven­ture guide, a climb­ing instruc­tor spends his days teach­ing oth­ers about his favorite sport. Here, though, you’ll like­ly be doing it from the com­fort of an indoor gym with the occa­sion­al trip out­side. Or maybe you’ll start your own climb­ing busi­ness and instruct entire­ly out­side class­es, who knows?

Require­ments: A love of all things climb­ing and in-depth knowl­edge of the sport are good things to have for this posi­tion. You’ll also want to get some wildlife med­ical cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in case of emergencies—you know, for legal reasons—and you’ll prob­a­bly have to pro­vide much of the gear for the new­bies. There’s no for­mal school­ing need­ed here, though.

Park Ranger
Park Rangers actu­al­ly have a vari­ety of jobs they per­form on a dai­ly basis, includ­ing lead­ing tours, pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty and inves­ti­gat­ing com­plaints in our nation’s parks. They also get to be out­side all day long.

Require­ments: It turns out that today’s Park Rangers don’t get far with­out a degree. At a min­i­mum, you’ll need a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Con­ser­va­tion, Park and Recre­ation Man­age­ment, Botany, Wildlife Man­age­ment, or Forestry. If you ever plan on mov­ing up in the field a Mas­ter of Sci­ence or even a Ph.D. is high­ly desirable.

Writer/Photographer
If you’ve spent hours of your life pour­ing through copies of Out­side then you know by now there are some pret­ty lucky peo­ple out there being paid to trav­el the world in search of the next great adven­ture. If you’ve got a tal­ent for string­ing togeth­er words or tak­ing awe-inspir­ing pho­tos you might con­sid­er a career as a writer or pho­tog­ra­ph­er. You don’t even have to work for a mag­a­zine — you could go entire­ly freelance!

Require­ments: Pro­fes­sion­al writ­ers and/or pho­tog­ra­phers today have to be skilled in both areas to get far in the field and a Bachelor’s Degree in Jour­nal­ism is a good start. Start build­ing your port­fo­lio ear­ly, as com­pe­ti­tion from at-home blog­gers is fierce these days.