Outdoor Careers: Making a living outside the nine to five

Runners near Kings Peak
Seth Myer and Joel Parks make the return from Kings Peak, Utah’s tallest mountain. (Coby Hoch)

Mountains loom on smartphone screens. People gaze at beautiful vistas. Tents and backpacks are colorful pinpricks in a natural background. Some social media users come out with new photos on almost a daily basis. How are they in the mountains so much? The truth is that they may not really be in the mountains everyday, but there are some people that come close.

Living the dream

The dream could be sitting at a desk from nine to five, or it could be sitting in a jostling bus on the other side of the world. The dream could be sitting in a conference room looking out the window while the boss talks on and on about the next big client, or it could be hanging off the side of a mountain while a client makes an attempt at the top.

Traveling the world and exploring the outdoors is more than a hobby for some people. Guides, photographers and other enthusiasts make careers out of this pursuit. To some it may seem like a dream. Real people can’t have those kinds of jobs. Except that they do.

Gear Junkie

Gear Junkie came out with a list of 20 outdoor jobs from adventure photography to venom milking. It includes a set of filters to help users find an outdoor job that might work for them. If users show that they are afraid of heights or don’t enjoy the cold, the site will filter down the list of job options.

After selecting a job that interests them users can read through a description of the position, and find an estimated salary.

If that hasn’t scared away the reader the site also includes a link to learn more about the job.

Unconventional Jobs in Real Life

Yellow SOTAR rafts wait in the shallows of the Klamath River. Guides at Marble Mountain Guest Ranch can get their training from the Ranch’s owners Doug and Heidi Cole. (Coby Hoch)

People with unconventional jobs are still just people. Most people aren’t professional skateboarders, but Brian Anderson found a way to make it work for him. In a recent article he was asked, “When did you realise that you could make your passion a career?” He said, “I was planning on going to culinary school, but I had a friend who told me that I was really good at skateboarding and that I should pursue it. I tried and then it happened.”

Landing an outdoor job may not be quite that simple,  but for those willing to try there are avenues to success. For example, those seeking to become mountain guides can choose from training programs offered by the American Mountain Guides Association, the American Alpine Institute or the Mountain Training School. Colleges and Universities across the country offer photography programs and raft guiding school is just a matter of signing up.


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