How to Get a Job in the Outdoor Industry

How to Get a Job in the Outdoor Industry

Table of Contents


The outdoor industry presents an expansive field for individuals passionate about outdoor activities such as biking, paddling, fishing, and hiking.

This sector is currently thriving, driven by a growing interest in outdoor recreation and an increased emphasis on health and wellness.

For those who love the outdoors, this industry offers a chance to combine personal passion with professional development, creating a career that doesn’t feel like work.

The Job Market

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As more and more folks are getting into nature and all sorts of outdoor activities, there’s been a real spike in demand.

It’s not just about selling more hiking boots and tents—though that’s definitely part of it. There’s also a huge interest in experiences like guided hikes, adventure trips, and even outdoor learning programs.

Whether you’re into designing the gear, selling it, organizing events, or teaching others how to enjoy the great outdoors safely, there’s probably a job opportunity out there for you.. It’s an exciting time to get a job in the outdoor industry—that’s for sure!

Why It’s a Great Time to Join

  • Many Different Opportunities – The range of roles within the outdoor industry is vast. Whether your interest lies in hands-on fieldwork, such as guiding or conservation, or behind-the-scenes roles in marketing, design, or management, there’s a place for you.
  • Growth & Innovation – With the integration of technology in outdoor equipment and the emphasis on sustainable practices, the industry is at the forefront of innovation. This evolution opens up new career paths and opportunities for professional growth.
  • Community & Lifestyle – The outdoor industry is known for its strong sense of community and shared values among those who work within it. This creates a supportive and enriching work environment. Additionally, many roles offer the flexibility to maintain a lifestyle that prioritizes outdoor adventure and exploration.

Key Considerations

  • Stay Informed – Keeping up with outdoor industry trends, such as sustainability initiatives and technological advancements in gear, can position you as a knowledgeable candidate.
  • Skill Development – While a passion for the outdoors is a significant draw, developing relevant skills—whether through formal education, certifications, or hands-on experience—can enhance your employability.
  • Networking – Building connections within the industry can be incredibly valuable. Many opportunities come through word-of-mouth or through professional networks.

The outdoor industry’s growth and the increasing integration of values like sustainability and innovation make it an exciting time for job seekers. This sector not only offers a variety of roles but also the chance to make a positive impact on the environment and society while pursuing a career aligned with one’s passions.

Emerging Trends in the Outdoor Industry

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The world of outdoor activities and businesses is always on the move, and right now, it’s buzzing with some pretty interesting shifts. Whether you’re all about sustainability, tech, or making sure your adventures are as green as they can be, there’s something new popping up for everyone.

Sustainability Practices

Let’s talk green. It’s no news that being eco-friendly is big, but in the outdoor industry, it’s becoming a major game-changer. Companies are getting smarter about how they make things, aiming to leave a lighter footprint on our planet. This means more jobs for folks who are passionate about keeping the outdoors, well, outdoorsy. Think designing products with recycled materials or working on projects that protect our wild places.


This year, eco-tourism is definitely having “a moment.” People want to travel, but in a way that’s kind to the environment and respectful to local cultures. This trend is opening doors for jobs in planning eco-friendly trips or guiding tourists through breathtaking, untouched spots without leaving a mark.

Tech Meets Nature

Tech isn’t just for the city or your home office anymore; it’s hitting the trails and rivers too. From gear that makes camping a breeze to apps that help you find the best hiking spots, technology is making it easier and safer to enjoy the great outdoors. If you’ve got a knack for tech and love nature, there’s a sweet spot for you here.

Going Digital

Like pretty much every other industry, the outdoor world is getting a digital makeover. Digital marketing, online stores, and even virtual outdoor experiences are becoming a big deal. If you’re good with a keyboard and have a creative streak, there are plenty of opportunities to carve out a career helping outdoor brands shine online.

Wellness in the Wild

Lastly, the connection between being outdoors and feeling good, both physically and mentally, is stronger than ever. This has sparked a rise in jobs focused on outdoor education, wellness retreats, and programs that blend adventure with health benefits.

Understanding these trends is key for job seekers in the outdoor industry. Not only do they highlight areas of growth and opportunity, but they also underscore the importance of adaptability and continuous learning. As the industry evolves, so too do the skills and knowledge required to succeed.

Employment Trends in the Outdoor Industry

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The job scene in the outdoor world is pretty dynamic these days. Despite the challenges tossed our way by the pandemic, there’s been a noticeable uptick in certain areas, especially those that blend outdoor passion with digital savvy.

Growth in Digital & Remote Roles

One of the biggest shifts we’ve seen is the rise of digital roles. Think digital marketing, web design, and e-commerce. These aren’t just buzzwords; they’re rapidly becoming central to how outdoor companies connect with customers and sell products.

Plus, with more folks working from their laptops, remote and freelance gigs are becoming more common.

This shift means you can potentially work for an outdoor brand without having to live near its headquarters.

Flexibility and Freelancing

The trend toward more flexible work setups, including freelancing, is particularly strong in the outdoor industry. This flexibility allows professionals to balance their work with their outdoor pursuits, making it an attractive option for those who can’t stand the thought of being cooped up in an office all day.

Emergence of New Job Titles

As the industry evolves, so do the roles within it. Beyond the traditional positions like guide or park ranger, we’re seeing a demand for UX designers, digital content creators, and sustainability consultants. These roles reflect the industry’s move toward a more tech-savvy, environmentally conscious approach.

The Importance of Internships

Getting your foot in the door often starts with internships. Many companies in the outdoor industry offer internships that provide real-world experience and networking opportunities. These positions can be a golden ticket for recent grads or those looking to switch careers, offering a pathway to full-time employment.

Certifications & Specialized Skills

Having certain certifications or specialized skills can really make your resume stand out. Whether it’s a wilderness first aid certification or expertise in sustainable business practices, these qualifications can open doors to niche roles within the industry that might not be accessible otherwise.

In summary, the employment trends in the outdoor industry are pointing toward more digital, remote, and flexible job opportunities. This evolution is opening up the field to a wider range of talents and interests. Whether you’re a tech whiz, a marketing guru, or a sustainability advocate, there’s likely a place for you in the outdoor industry.

New Careers in the Outdoor Industry

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The outdoor industry isn’t just about leading hikes or selling camping gear. It’s evolving, offering a wide array of roles that cater to different skills and interests.

Let’s look at some of the job titles that are becoming more prominent, reflecting the industry’s needs.

Product Designers

Innovative gear is at the heart of the outdoor experience. Product developers and designers work on creating the next generation of outdoor equipment, combining functionality, sustainability, and technology to enhance outdoor adventures.

User Experience (UX) Designers

With more outdoor companies moving their services online, there’s a growing need for UX designers. These professionals work on making websites, apps, and digital platforms as user-friendly as possible, ensuring that customers have a seamless experience when booking adventures or buying gear.

Digital Marketers

In a world where social media and online presence are king, digital marketers play a crucial role in the outdoor industry. They help brands tell their stories, reach wider audiences, and promote products or experiences that align with the outdoor lifestyle.

Environmental Stewards

As sustainability becomes a priority, the role of environmental stewards is more critical than ever. These individuals work on conservation projects, sustainability initiatives, and educational programs to protect natural spaces and ensure the industry operates responsibly.

Content Creators

Content creators, including photographers and videographers, have a unique place in the outdoor industry. They capture the beauty and thrill of outdoor adventures, creating compelling content that inspires others to explore and appreciate the natural world.

E-commerce Specialists

With online shopping becoming the norm, e-commerce specialists are key to the digital marketplace. They manage online stores, optimize product listings, and analyze sales data to drive growth and meet consumer needs.

Sustainability Consultants

These professionals advise companies on how to make their operations more eco-friendly. From developing sustainable product lines to implementing green practices in the workplace, they help the outdoor industry tread lightly on the planet.

Event Coordinators

Outdoor events, from races to festivals, need organized minds to bring them to life. Event coordinators manage logistics, secure permits, and ensure events run smoothly, providing memorable experiences for participants.

The outdoor industry is broad, offering roles that align with a variety of interests and skills, from tech and marketing to conservation and event planning. This diversity not only makes the industry more dynamic but also opens up opportunities for people to combine their professional skills with their passion for the outdoors.

Industry Certifications and Education

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Imagine you’re preparing for an adventure. Just as you’d pack a map and compass, think of certifications and education as your navigational tools for your career journey in the outdoor industry. Whether you’re drawn to guiding whitewater rafting trips or designing sustainable gear, certain credentials can elevate your expertise and appeal to employers.

For example, a wilderness first responder certification is almost like a golden ticket for those looking to work in outdoor education or guiding. Similarly, degrees in fields like environmental science or recreation management can lay a solid foundation for your career.

In the outdoor industry, having the right certifications and educational background can significantly boost your career. These credentials not only demonstrate your expertise and commitment but also can be the key to unlocking specialized roles.

It’s important to recognize that opportunities in the outdoor industry extend well beyond the literal fieldwork of guiding or gear design. Executive and corporate roles also play a crucial part in shaping this sector.

Certifications and educational backgrounds relevant to business management, sustainability practices, and even marketing can significantly bolster your qualifications for these positions. For instance, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus on sustainability could be incredibly valuable for someone aiming to lead a company that specializes in eco-friendly outdoor equipment.

Here’s a look at some important certifications and educational paths.

Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and First Aid Certifications

Safety is paramount in outdoor activities. Certifications like Wilderness First Responder (WFR) or Wilderness First Aid (WFA) are highly regarded. They prepare you to respond effectively to emergencies in remote settings, making you a valuable team member for outdoor education organizations, adventure tour companies, and conservation groups.

Environmental Science and Sustainability Degrees

For those interested in environmental stewardship and sustainability roles within the industry, degrees in environmental science, conservation biology, or sustainability can be beneficial. These programs provide a solid foundation in understanding ecosystem dynamics, conservation strategies, and sustainable practices.

Outdoor Education and Leadership Programs

Degrees or certifications in outdoor education and leadership are perfect for those looking to lead outdoor adventures or teach environmental education. These programs focus on developing skills in leadership, risk management, and teaching methodologies specific to outdoor settings.

Recreation and Tourism Management Degrees

If you’re drawn to the business side of the outdoor industry, degrees in recreation management or tourism management can offer the necessary skills and knowledge. These programs cover topics like event planning, marketing, and management principles tailored to the recreation and tourism sectors.

Technical Certifications for Gear and Equipment

For those interested in product development, design, or sales, technical certifications related to specific outdoor gear (like biking, climbing, or paddling equipment) can be advantageous. These certifications often come from manufacturers or industry associations and provide in-depth knowledge of the products.

Digital Skills and E-commerce Training

As the industry grows online, skills in digital marketing, web design, and e-commerce are increasingly important. Various online platforms offer courses and certifications that can help you develop these skills, enhancing your ability to work in digital roles within the industry.

Continued learning and certification not only improve your qualifications but also show potential employers your dedication to your career and the outdoor lifestyle. Whether you’re just starting or looking to advance in the industry, investing in your education and certification can open new doors and lead to rewarding career paths.

Finding (Your) Balance – Work and Life in the Outdoor Industry

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The outdoor industry stands out for its inherent connection to lifestyle and well-being. Achieving a work-life balance here often means integrating your job with your outdoor passions. Here’s how:

  • Embrace Flexible Work Arrangements – Many companies in the outdoor sector understand the value of time spent outdoors. Look for employers who offer flexible scheduling or the opportunity to work remotely, allowing you to hit the trails or the water when the conditions are perfect.
  • Pursue Roles That Reflect Your Interests – Align your career with your outdoor activities of choice. If you’re into climbing, consider roles at climbing gear companies or climbing gyms. Passionate about conservation? Look for positions with environmental nonprofits or outdoor education centers.
  • Leverage Seasonal Opportunities for Varied Experiences – Seasonal work can provide the perfect balance of work and play. Spend your summers guiding tours or working at outdoor camps, and your off-season pursuing other interests or traveling. This rhythm can keep your work life fresh and exciting.
  • Cultivate a Community – Surround yourself with people who share your values and passions. The outdoor industry is community-centric, offering a great way to build relationships with like-minded individuals. These connections can enrich your personal life and offer professional support.
  • Prioritize Health and Wellness – The industry’s focus on wellness and outdoor activities naturally supports a healthy lifestyle. Take advantage of company initiatives like wellness programs, outdoor outings, or gear discounts to stay fit and energized.
  • Stay Engaged with Your Passions – Whether it’s taking part in local conservation efforts, joining outdoor clubs, or simply making time for your own adventures, staying active in the outdoor community can enhance your work-life balance. It keeps your passion alive and informs your professional life with real-world experiences.

Challenges Facing Outdoor Industry Job Candidates

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Seasonal Employment Gaps

When you first dip your toes into the outdoor industry, you might notice the seasonal rhythm of many jobs. It’s easy to see this as a limitation, a cycle of highs and lows in employment. However, this perspective misses the expansive horizon of the industry—a landscape brimming with full-time positions, corporate roles, and pathways to executive leadership.

Consider seasonal jobs as the introductory chapter to an epic career in the outdoor industry. Here’s how to turn them into an opportunity:

  • Diversify Your Skills – Use the off-season to learn new skills or improve existing ones. Online courses in digital marketing, environmental law, or even a new language can make you more valuable to employers.
  • Seasonal Work Rotation – Consider lining up seasonal jobs in different regions. For example, work a summer job in the northern hemisphere followed by a winter job in the southern hemisphere.
  • Side Projects – The off-season can be the perfect time to start a blog, launch a small business, or work on other projects that are related to your passions in the outdoor industry.
  • Rest & Recharge – Let’s not underestimate the power of taking a breather. The outdoor industry can be physically demanding, and giving your body and mind a well-deserved break can do wonders. Use this time to reconnect with your own outdoor passions—not as a guide, instructor, or sales associate, but purely for the love of it. You’ll return refreshed and filled with new ideas.
  • Network and Connect – The world is full of people who share your passions and ambitions, and the off-season is a great time to meet them. Attend workshops, join online forums, or hit up local meetups. These connections can lead to unexpected opportunities, partnerships, or simply great friendships.
  • Plan and Strategize – Use the quieter months to set goals and plan your next moves. Maybe it’s aiming for a promotion, expanding your freelance business, or even starting your own venture. With the hustle of peak season on pause, you’ve got the headspace to map out your future.

Finding Full-Time Opportunities

While the industry offers many part-time and freelance roles, securing full-time employment can be challenging.

  • Network Relentlessly – Often, finding a full-time role is about who you know. Attend industry conferences, join online forums, and connect with professionals on LinkedIn.
  • Showcase Your Value – Create a portfolio that highlights your contributions to previous roles, projects, or volunteer work. This can demonstrate your impact and versatility to potential employers.
  • Consider a Broader Search – Look beyond the traditional employers in the outdoor industry. Companies that produce outdoor gear, environmental consultancies, or even government agencies can offer full-time positions related to the outdoors. Working with an outdoor industry recruiter can be a significant help to finding just the right job opening in this sector.

Adapting to Technology

The rapid integration of technology into outdoor activities and business operations can be daunting for some.

  • Stay Current – Keep up with the latest trends in outdoor gear, apps, and digital marketing strategies. Online tutorials and webinars can be great resources.
  • Leverage Tech to Your Advantage – Use technology to enhance your job search. Digital portfolios, social media, and professional networking sites can showcase your skills and connect you with potential employers.

Environmental and Ethical Concerns

Working in the outdoor industry often means grappling with environmental and ethical dilemmas.

  • Educate Yourself – Stay informed about environmental issues, conservation efforts, and sustainable practices within the industry.
  • Advocate & Act – Use your position to advocate for sustainable practices, whether in product development, tourism management, or any other area of the industry.

Executive Jobs in the Outdoor Industry: A Roadmap

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Achieving an executive role in the outdoor industry often involves a combination of industry experience, advanced education, and a strategic approach to career development. Here’s an exploration of how professionals can navigate their way to the top.

Gaining Industry Experience

Starting at the ground level or in mid-tier roles provides invaluable insights into the operational, customer service, and product aspects of the outdoor industry.

This hands-on experience is crucial for understanding the workings of the market and the needs of the consumer base. Aspiring executives should aim to work in roles across different departments to gain a holistic view of the industry.

Advancing Your Education

While not always mandatory, possessing an advanced degree such as an MBA or a master’s in a related field can significantly bolster one’s chances of moving into an executive position. Specialized knowledge in areas like business administration, sustainability, or outdoor recreation management can distinguish candidates in a competitive field.

Strategic Networking and Mentoring

Building a strong professional network within the industry and finding mentors who are already in executive roles can provide guidance and open doors to opportunities.

Networking can happen in various settings, from industry conferences and events to online forums and social media platforms. Mentoring, whether formal or informal, offers direct insights into the challenges and rewards of executive leadership.

Demonstrating Leadership and Innovation

Companies look for individuals who not only understand the outdoor industry but also bring fresh ideas and strong leadership skills to the table. Aspiring executives should showcase their ability to lead teams, manage projects, and innovate within their current roles.

Participation in high-impact projects, willingness to tackle challenges, and a track record of achieving measurable results can highlight one’s potential for executive leadership.

Understanding the Corporate Landscape

Finally, transitioning to an executive role often requires an understanding of the broader corporate landscape, including finance, strategy, and global market trends. This knowledge enables executives to make informed decisions that drive the company forward, aligning operational goals with broader industry shifts and consumer expectations.

Reaching an executive position in the outdoor industry is a journey marked by continuous learning, adaptability, and a deep commitment to the values that define the sector.

For those passionate about the outdoors and driven to lead, the path to executive leadership is both challenging and immensely rewarding, offering the chance to shape the future of an industry that has a profound impact on the way people interact with the natural world. Partnering with an outdoor industry executive recruiter can significantly streamline your search for the ideal job opening.

Working with an Outdoor Industry Recruiter

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Let’s dive into something a bit different but super helpful for finding a job in the outdoor industry: working with a recruiter. Think of recruiters as your personal guides in the job search wilderness. They’ve got the map, the compass, and a deep knowledge of the terrain to help you find your way to some of the best spots, a.k.a. job opportunities, in the outdoor industry.

Why Team Up with an Outdoor Industry Recruiter?

They Know the Terrain Like the Back of Their Hand

Recruiters specializing in the outdoor industry aren’t just familiar with the job market; they’re deeply embedded in it. They know which companies are expanding their teams, the skills these companies are desperately seeking, and even the company cultures. This insider knowledge is gold, helping you cut through the noise and find roles that truly fit your skills and passions.

They’re Your Advocate

Ever wished you had someone to sing your praises? That’s your recruiter. Once they understand your strengths, experiences, and where you want to go, they advocate for you. They make sure your resume gets in front of the right eyes and that those eyes see your potential. It’s like having a hype person who also happens to be incredibly strategic about your career moves.

Feedback and Guidance

Feedback can be hard to come by when you’re job hunting on your own. Recruiters, however, provide valuable feedback throughout the process. They can give you pointers on your resume, coach you for interviews, and even help you navigate offers. It’s like having a coach who’s as invested in your success as you are.

Access to the Hidden Job Market

Some of the best jobs never hit the public job boards. They’re filled through networking, word of mouth, or, you guessed it, recruiters. Working with a recruiter can open up a whole new world of opportunities that you might not find on your own. It’s like being part of an exclusive club where the membership fee is just being awesome at what you do.

Long-term Relationship

The best part? This isn’t a one-and-done deal. Building a relationship with a recruiter can benefit you throughout your career. As you grow and your career goals evolve, your recruiter can continue to match you with opportunities that fit your changing aspirations. It’s like having a career advocate for life.

Final Thoughts

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As we conclude this guide, take a moment to envision your future in the outdoor industry—a future where your career is not just a job, but a reflection of your passion for the outdoors. Your adventure starts now. Let the trail you blaze be one of impact, fulfillment, and continuous discovery.

And remember: Every trail has its twists and turns, but with preparation, the right mindset, and the right job seeking tactics, you can carve out a fulfilling career in the outdoor industry for yourself. So, lace up your boots, pack your skills and passions, and set forth on this exciting professional adventure.

Welcome to the outdoor industry—where your professional journey and your passion for the great outdoors meet.

Thank you for walking this path with us. If you have any questions as you embark on your adventure in the outdoor industry, feel free to reach out to us at Cutwater Martin.

Your journey is just beginning—and the trails ahead are yours to explore. But you don’t have to go it alone. Upload your resume today!