View Full Version : Hiking careers

08-14-2013, 22:21
This may be a strange post but does anyone have any advice on any jobs that could put me on the trail?i don't have a college degree but a lot of outdoor experience

08-14-2013, 22:27
Trail Magic!!!

08-14-2013, 22:28
This may be a strange post but does anyone have any advice on any jobs that could put me on the trail?i don't have a college degree but a lot of outdoor experience
i think every single one of us asks ourselves"man, if i could only make a living doing this".

no. i have no advice. maybe guide trips

08-14-2013, 22:37
How about a Park Ranger in one of the National Parks?

08-14-2013, 22:41
There was an article I read once, about a guy that worked in the Grand Canyon rafting business.

This guy loved his job, it was great to be able to spend all your time outside in the Grand Canyon.

He wasnt the raft guide, nothing that prestigious. He aspired to be a raft guide one day though.

His job, was to help the guide, and take care of the poop.

Everyones poop needed to be packed out in a PVC pipe. That was his job.

He said it was worth it.

Dont expect any low skill outdoor job to pay very well. People are lined up willing to make great concessions to live and work in nice places.

The Cleaner
08-14-2013, 22:44
Shelter caretaker at Spring Mtn, shelter.No pay but lots of hikers will think you are a cool person....:cool:

08-14-2013, 22:46
Shelter caretaker at Spring Mtn, shelter.No pay but lots of hikers will think you are a cool person....:cool:
cleaner, you are the man. i witnessed your handiwork during my hike this spring, stayed at one of the shelters you had brought up bleach to clean, the place was spotless.
you are truly special. thank you for giving so much back.

08-14-2013, 22:49
Check out coolworks.com for seasonal jobs in the best places in earth. Maybe you won't start out hiking for a living, but you could make a living waitressing (or doing housekeeping, or working the front desk, or working in the kitchen) in a national park, and spend your spare time hiking. Once you're in and around the national park of your dreams, you'll be well located to find out about even better jobs.

That's how I found my job in Glacier NP.

08-14-2013, 23:20
No specific advice but some thoughts. I am sure others will chime in with other options too.

Assist in conducting studies or measurements. Frequently, there is a need to take noise measurements, count a certain type of flora or fauna, measure disolved oxygen in streams, fix/install stream gauges and a host of other things. Someone fit who can lug a bunch of equipment into the study area could be helpful too.

Become a guide. Take a NOLS class and/or a WFR course and there are plenty of companies who need guides for tour groups, teen groups, vacation ranches, etc.

Remove invasive species (one of my friends did this in a river for a summer job, required scuba equipment/certification, paid reasonably well, was pretty cool). I'd imagine something similar exists on land for a bit less pay.

Not the most relaxing, but wilderness search and rescue or smokejumper/forest fire fighter. Requires training but you would be much appreciated.

08-14-2013, 23:27
This may be a strange post but does anyone have any advice on any jobs that could put me on the trail?i don't have a college degree but a lot of outdoor experience

How about offering $5 foot and shoulder massages at road crossings? How about operating a taco truck in the same places? I like mahi mahi fish tacos w/ mango, avocado, tomato, fish sauce, and cilantro. I'll be your first customer with both ventures. How about taking photos of hikers when they are hiking and don't know it and then showing and selling them the pics at the next road crossing? How about joining a paid trail crew? How about offering your services free for say a month or a season based on returning the following season or months and getting paid? I know of two people, one who had not a shred of rafting/kayaking experience, that did this(volunteered) on the Colorado River with rafting companies who later came back and worked for these same rafting companies as decently paid employees. Work as a guide. Start your own outdoor company. Offer some valuable service or product, knowledge, acquired skill etc that keeps you hiking. DREAM. PLAN. EXECUTE to attain the DREAM!

08-14-2013, 23:48
As Leanthree said I spent three nights in Haleakala NP on Maui with FREE cabin usage(competitive obtaining a cabin use permit at certain times) counting flora and removing invasive plant species. Snagged a paid short term position doing this same thing in Hawaii Volcanoes NP on the Big Island too. These types of flora related positions are not hard for me to come by as I have a horticulture degree and know my plant species well.

Contact Google Earth seeking a paid position hiking trails with photographic head cams.

Brainstorm by relating existing marketable knowledge, skills, etc to trail/outdoor activities/interests. Joe Valesco(ZPacks), Brian Frankel(Ultra Light Adventures), Ron Bell(Mountain Laurel Designs), Ron Moak(Six Moon Designs), Yvon Chouinard(Black Diamond, Patagonia), Kim and Demetri Couponas(Go Lite), Eric Reynolds and Dave Huntley(Marmot), Henry Shires( Henry Shires Tarptents), etc etc etc all did this!

08-14-2013, 23:58
A good friend and co-worker is a guide for NOLS. He does sailing trips in Mexico and backpacking in Wyoming for them. Everyone wishes we had his life. He loves working for them.

08-15-2013, 00:06
Wildfire fighting. Start of seasonal/temp and work your way up.

Hard, potentially dangerous work that can pay fairly well (eventually) and is outdoors.


Did I mention hard and potentially dangerous? :)

But, from people I know who have done it, it is a "calling" for many and can be very rewarding on many levels.

And with the way things are going here out West, it is a job that just may be in demand.

08-15-2013, 00:21
Cook on a oil exploration team.

08-15-2013, 06:39
Thanks guys for all the advice.I have been wanting to check into the wilderness first responder program,just wasn't sure how big the demand for that in the east would be.and I'll will defiantly check into the paid trail crew program although I want to do some volunteer work also,unfortunately I still have to pay the bills lol

Tom Murphy
08-15-2013, 10:06
The AMC and RMC have seasonal jobs. Lots of competition.

The Ace
08-15-2013, 10:22
Contact and ask Eustace from Mountain Man.

08-15-2013, 12:20
Search and Rescue if you are an adrenaline junkie like me.

08-15-2013, 13:35
If you attain the WFR, NOLS, Basic First Aid, outdoor guide company certifications it opens the door to working anywhere in the world. Having social skills helps. Being a pretty in shape female or in shape handsome male doesn't hurt acquiring positions either. That sounds, and prolly is sexist, but hey use and market what you have to get the position you desire. We already do that to some degree already anyway. Keep it real though.

Mag's and Rasty's idea about fire fighting can work too. I have two friends in Nevada that work doing this. They get paid decently well. They got their positions, one as a front line backcountry fire fighter and the other as a cook that stays back at camp yet sometimes delivers resupplies/food to just behind the frontline firefighters with the BIA(Bureau of Indian Affairs in Carson City). Know someone who's a smoke jumper in the southern Wyoming/western Colorado area too based around Yellowstone NP. That's a full time position making very good money. ALL these frontline firefighting and even back at base camp supporting positions require passing a somewhat physical fitness test.

You could also look at becoming a camp host like at a NP. Sometimes these positions not only provide a camper or housing quarters as housing but also a small paycheck. I know many who do that. They are usually middle aged, drive their campers/RVs to NPs and set up for the season.

Heck, when I first moved to Hawaii I worked through WOOF(Worldwide Opportunities in Organic Farming) on an organic farm on Maui to get myself working. It didn't pay much but I got housing(camper), set my own flexible schedule(about 25-30 hrs per wk), received a small paycheck($100/wk), and ate all the organic tropical produce I wanted. I also added to my learning about how to grow organic crops, permaculture, the coffee industry, etc. When I wasn't working I was out wandering the trails and bushwacking. I made lots of contacts with other foreign and domestic people and organizations interested in the same things. I could, right now, jump on a plane or boat and work with a nominal paycheck in prolly a dozen different countries.

08-15-2013, 13:38
My firefighting friends make damn good money with all the OT they want, medical benefits, etc. Plus they're plugged into the gov't working sector which can open up all sorts of opps.

08-15-2013, 13:49
That's awesome the WFR and guiding is what I really want!does anyone know the demand for that in TN-NC

08-15-2013, 14:04
I would get my hands on the latest copies of Blue Ridge Outdoors and start contacting every single advertiser or those mentioned in it who you might want to work with. When you start the WFR classes you'll get all sorts of additional employment ideas and uses for this certification.

08-15-2013, 14:46
Contact the A.T.C about being a Ridge Runner, Go to their home page and click jobs or employment, and you can fill out the application on-line, their are always looking for experienced people to fill those positions, GOOD LUCK.

08-15-2013, 14:56
Although not on the trail directly, you can also apply to work at various outdoor schools or adventure camps. Or, apply to work someplace like the REI Outdoor school, where you'll get benefits AND a sweet discount. The advantage to a job like the latter is that it will bring you into contact with lots of local agencies and organizations and you'll be able to work that network for employment later on.

Feral Bill
08-15-2013, 15:39
It's easy to get jobs with the concessionaires in major national parks such as Glacier and Yellowstone. Don't expect to get rich, though.

08-15-2013, 18:03
As a geologist, I've had a lot of field seasons that we nicknamed "hiking for dollars". The pay is good, and you get to hike in wild and natural areas, often on private land, that you would not see otherwise. Some years I did so much field work that I didn't want to go hiking for recreation. Lately I've worked in western Montana. In the past I've worked in Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, Wyoming, and Africa. I was lucky enough to work for the US Geological Survey back in the 1980's when it still was a scientific (vs political) organization.

08-15-2013, 20:05
It's easy to get jobs with the concessionaires in major national parks such as Glacier and Yellowstone. Don't expect to get rich, though.

APPLY EARLY for these positions though as some positions in some NPs get hammered with employment seekers from abroad. Scoring a summer(or long term position) at one of the historical GRAND NP Lodges could be very rewarding. It can also open the door to higher paid NP(or elsewhere) jobs/careers.

08-16-2013, 07:55
As a geologist,

I was going to suggest geolgist of some sort. I recall as a kid in a mining town up north thinking that prospecting (modern prospecting for a major mining or petroleum outfit, not gold panning) would be a geat way to live in the woods.

Army Ranger. Lots of fast hiking with heavy packs. May not be the trail you're looking for though.

It might be a bit easier and more practical to pursue a career that puts you close to where you want to hike and provide ample time to do so. School teacher some to mind. Most small towns near trails have schools, the job comes with benefits, a fair amount of time off although much of that is used for career development. Most small towns near trails also have law enforcement, another job with benefits. If you're lucky hooking up with a county water department as a chemist is supposed to be a sweet gig, or so I'm told. Degrees are required for most of these positions.

08-16-2013, 08:06
US border patrol is looking for folks to work the maine, NH and VT border. This is remote territory and half the challenge is just getting to the border approaches. They are currently hiring. Its a high turnover as the border stations are also quite remote. Work for them for 20 years and you get a federal pension.

08-16-2013, 10:02
If you're in hospitality, government, health care, retail or education you shouldn't have an issue finding work in the High Country or Asheville if persistent.

The ability to get off work and be on trails or in two parks in less than five minutes is worth the extra salary I give up living here vs a major city like Charlotte.

08-16-2013, 13:18
This may be a strange post but does anyone have any advice on any jobs that could put me on the trail?i don't have a college degree but a lot of outdoor experience
You asked for advice -- don't select a career (or start a business) that involves what others do for a hobby. When others are willing to do it for free, you won't be able to make a good living charging for it. When I was young, I was a pilot. There are lots of people who love to fly so much they will do it without pay. That is why it takes so long to get to the paying jobs as pilot. Hiking jobs are the same. So many of us love to hike that the few jobs that involve hiking don't pay well. Do something that pays well for a career and hike for fun.

08-16-2013, 14:57
Is going to college completely out of the question for you? If not, there are schools, like Warren Wilson in Asheville, that offer degrees in things like Outdoor Leadership which would give you the piece of paper to go along with the experience.

NOLS and SOLO both offer WFA/WFR/WEMT courses.

Along with plant counting and invasive species removal there are sometimes (not a frequent thing) jobs available planting new trees after areas have been logged or the trees have been depleted for other reasons.

Do you have outdoor skills other than hiking? Like rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, etc?

As others have suggested, volunteer. Those non-paid hours put you in contact with people who could offer you money to do the same or similar.

I agree with Shutterbug too though; be sure you REALLY want to hike for a living.

08-16-2013, 15:57
College is out of the question right now but maybe not forever.i hike ,raft ,road bike and mountain bike and I absolutely know I want to hike for a living that is if there is a wY

08-16-2013, 16:21
Shutterbug and Ewok make a good pt. Hiking for a living(paycheck) or having a job/career that entails hiking is most likely NOT going to be the same as recreational hiking. As an example, I was considering getting a paid job filming and documenting various trails using Google Earth(Virtual Trail Technology) but it would be a job requiring hauling heavy bulky gear/cameras in addition to my own UL backpack and kit. Signing on for this paid position would change why and how I hike and turn my hiking experiences into something that wasn't appealing to me. Keep that in mind.