By Kyle Davidson | Updated: March 12th, 2023
Identifying Your Passion
Identifying your passion for the outdoors is the first step to turning it into a successful career. This means taking some time to reflect on what area of the outdoor industry you are drawn to. Do you want to be in marketing, customer service, operations? Do you want to be a guide? Take stock of what is important to you and keep in mind where you start might not be where you ultimately end up.
From there, you can begin to brainstorm potential career pathways that will allow you to pursue your passion. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to turning your passion for the outdoors into a career, but with an open mind and the right resources, the journey can be rewarding.
Understand your interests and skills
Before pursuing a career in the outdoors, it's crucial to understand your interests and skills. This requires introspection and soul-searching, but if you're passionate about the outdoors, chances are you have hobbies or interests that can be developed professionally. Identifying what you enjoy most about spending time in nature and your applicable skills can help you narrow down job opportunities.
Don't forget to include personal skill sets such as writing, mechanics, or electronics. Qualifications in land management or ecology can increase your salary potential and job opportunities, but unique skill sets can also be beneficial in certain areas. Don't disqualify yourself due to a lack of practical qualifications; your enthusiasm for the outdoors can make up for it in some cases.
Write down your findings and any questions that arise during this process for further research and decision-making. Free online courses can also help you acquire new skills for presenting yourself professionally in the outdoor industry.
Research potential career paths
If you're passionate about the outdoors and want to pursue a career in this field, there are several paths to consider. It's important to conduct thorough research before making any decisions, so you can take the right steps toward building a career that aligns with your goals and interests. The internet is an excellent resource for exploring potential roles and organizations within the outdoor industry. You can also reach out to personal contacts who are involved in the field to get their insights and opinions.
Another way to gain valuable knowledge is by participating in job shadowing or internships to experience how different jobs operate on a day-to-day basis. This hands-on experience can help you make an informed decision about which role is best suited to your lifestyle and interests. Additionally, researching current trends and reviews related to your desired profession can provide tangible knowledge when applying for roles.
By investing time and effort into research, you can solidify your convictions about which path within the outdoor sector is best suited for you. With dedication and determination, you can turn your passion for the outdoors into a successful career.
Building Your Network
Networking is a powerful tool for establishing yourself in the outdoors industry. By researching and connecting with professionals in the field, you can build valuable relationships and stay informed about the latest news and trends. Networking with like-minded individuals can also help generate new business ideas and provide insight into successful strategies.
To help you find success in the outdoors industry, here are some strategies for building valuable connections:
- Attend industry events: Participate in trade shows and other professional networking events, either in-person or online, to introduce yourself to influencers in the field.
- Follow industry figures on social media: Utilize platforms like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook to learn more about outdoor lifestyle personalities who could become potential mentors or collaborators.
- Ask questions: Reach out directly to experts in the field via email or video chat to ask specific questions related to their work. This can spark conversation and lead to valuable advice tailored to your needs.
- Offer assistance: Consider offering your support on someone else's projects or tasks, such as documenting their journey through photos or videos, writing blog content, or offering tips on making their platform more efficient. This not only provides an opportunity for you to gain new skills but also demonstrates your appreciation for those who are helping you achieve your career aspirations.
By utilizing these strategies, you can create meaningful relationships within the industry and discover exciting career opportunities.
Attend conferences and workshops
Attending conferences and workshops are a great way to build your network in the outdoor industry. Not only will you have many opportunities to interact with industry professionals, but you can also hear firsthand insight into some of the newest opportunities available.
The presentations may cover trends in the industry, best practices for marketing yourself or new techniques for outdoor activities such as camping or rock climbing. These events can also be great opportunities to meet like-minded people who share the same passion and enthusiasm that you do.
Many companies offer internships and job postings to attendees at their conferences and workshops, so attending these events is a great way to learn more about what’s available in the industry as well as establish connections that could benefit your career down the line.
Be sure to make yourself memorable— bring business cards, dress professionally, ask insightful questions and follow up with contacts after the event.
Join outdoor-related organizations
Gaining as much insight into the outdoor industry as possible is essential to advancing your career. Dedicating yourself to organizations such as outdoor recreation trade associations, outdoor professional networks and local outdoor-related organizations will give you knowledge and lead to invaluable connections.
Trade associations such as the Outdoor Industry Association is an excellent place to start. They are a national not-for-profit organization that represents 1,400 businesses and partners in total commitment to promoting and growing the outdoor industry. From gaining access to their online resources and attending their conferences or webinars, this type of membership can provide you with a unique opportunity for networking, education and information quickly—an investment that will pay off big in the long run. Professional networks like Wilderness Medical Society or Outward Bound offer an excellent range of benefits—including certification programs, conference discounts, scientific literature and networking opportunities with leaders in the industry —all of which will be valuable assets while trying to establish your career.
Additionally there may be opportunities available through local organizations that offer direct connections with peers who share your interest in the outdoors. Events sponsored by these groups are prime opportunities for meeting key decision makers in the field if organized appropriately. The organizations Purposeful Networking Group is one example; they provide monthly meetups for individuals working in sustainability or environmental professions who want make meaningful connections within similar fields and learn from each other’s experiences. These organizations are invaluable resources for expanding your knowledge about sector trends; bringing resolution on potential job openings; generating creative solutions important sector players; and providing access to further educational/leadership/networking opportunities.
Developing Your Skills
If you are passionate about the outdoors and have a strong desire to turn your passion into a successful career, then it is essential to develop your skills and knowledge.
This includes learning more about the outdoors, such as plants and animals, as well as gaining the necessary certifications and qualifications to advance your career.
In this section, we will explore how to develop your skills and knowledge in order to become successful in the outdoors industry.
Take courses and certifications
If you are serious about launching a career in the outdoors, it's important to gain the necessary skills and develop your expertise. Taking courses or earning certifications is an excellent way to learn the fundamentals of working in areas related to outdoor recreation.
Depending on your ultimate career goals, there are many different types of courses and certifications you can pursue. If you want to become an outdoor instructor, for example, look for instructional programs provided by organizations like the American Canoe Association (ACA) and Professional Climbing Instructors Association (PCIA). Or if your interests lie more on the business side of things, consider attending seminars or conferences sponsored by industry leaders to learn how successful companies operate.
In addition to learning general principles related to your chosen field, taking courses can also give you hands-on experience. Look for job shadowing opportunities that allow you to observe qualified instructors and learn from them firsthand–they often provide mentorship that can only be found outside of a classroom setting. Don't forget online resources–the internet provides lots of educational material relating to recreational activities that can help sharpen your skills and get certified quickly.
No matter which route you choose, make sure that whatever type of instruction you're taking is certified or endorsed by respected industry sources like government agencies such as the National Park Service or National Forest Service. Taking courses from certified instructors ensures that you’re acquiring valuable information–and it may give prospective employers confidence in your qualifications as well!
Gather experience in the field
Gain additional education if needed. Depending on the job you seek, the hours required and the scope of the work, some employers will want you to have extra training or certifications. Becoming an Forest Ranger requires a second degree at minimum, while becoming mountain guides or instructors may require certifications such as First-aid training or even an Avalanche Safety Course. Take courses to build your skills and knowledge base in whatever area of outdoors you wish to pursue.
Volunteer where possible. There are multiple volunteer opportunities available that are related to wilderness exploration and recreation. Many National Parks run volunteer programs for park visitors or even recruits willing to commit to longer-term positions; this is a great way to gain experience in a wide variety of roles without committing time for full career involvement. Other organizations like The Appalachian Trail Conservancy often have volunteer positions specifically geared toward trail building and maintenance, which is essential for those interested in guiding future tackling sections of this incredible hike!
Network and connect with industry professionals. Most fields have more jobs than imaginable but it really comes down to who knows who, so it's important to get out there and make connections with people who can open doors for you in various ways whether on-the-job training opportunities or recommendations when employers are hiring for certain skillsets. Also make sure not just your professional contacts know what kind of job you're looking for but also friends, family members or even distant acquaintances—you never know how someone might be able introduce potential business contacts that lead directly into outdoor career success!
Create a portfolio of your work
Having a comprehensive portfolio of your work is an invaluable tool for securing a career in the outdoors. Use this portfolio to showcase your skills, achievements, and growth over time. Include images and videos of your outdoor exploits, as well as awards or certifications you may have received. Additionally, if any of your creations have been featured in writing or video, share those links too! Having a detailed portfolio will demonstrate to potential employers that you have the necessary skills to work in their industry.
Additionally, it can be helpful to write up descriptions for each piece or series that you’re displaying in your portfolio. Highlight the techniques or methods you used to complete the project and discuss some of the challenges that you encountered along the way. This will help to demonstrate both technical skill and problem-solving capabilities — two essential qualities for any employee involving themselves with outdoor activities.
Finding a Job
Finding a job that connects you to the outdoors can be difficult but not impossible. With the right skills and resources, it is possible to turn your passion for the outdoors into a successful career.
In this section, we will cover the different steps you can take to find an outdoor-related job and how to make a successful transition into your desired career.
Create a resume and cover letter
In order to market yourself for employment opportunities in the outdoors, you need a resume and a cover letter. Your resume should include details about your education, experience, job history, skills and abilities so potential employers will have an understanding of your background. You should also include any certifications you have that are related to the outdoor field. List any voluntary or professional training and give specific examples of teamwork or leadership experience that demonstrate your abilities in an outdoor environment.
Your cover letter should introduce yourself to a hiring manager by highlighting your relevant skills and experience for the opportunity at hand. Most importantly, explain why you are applying for the job and why you would make a strong candidate. Make sure to also emphasize how working with this organization specifically will help further grow your skillset while aligning with your goals and aspirations in the outdoor field. Finally, before sending off your application documents, double-check them both for accuracy as well as spelling and grammatical errors — these document provide potential employers with their first impression of you!
Apply for jobs
Finding a job in the outdoors can take time and dedication, but make sure you're prepared for when your dream opportunity arises. Here are some tips on applying for jobs outdoors.
Research: Before applying to any job, it is critical that you research the company and the position to ensure it’s a good fit for you. Look into what skills are needed for this role, their background and any experience other successful applicants may have had in the past. Know what makes you stand out as an applicant.
Networking: In order to find out about job openings and create new opportunities, reach out and form connections with industry professionals in your field of interest. Professional networks such as LinkedIn can be helpful in developing relationships with individuals that may lead to career opportunities or informational interviews on what kind of knowledge or abilities are needed to further your career aspirations.
Highlight your expertise: When creating résumés, cover letters and interviews, be sure to tailor each application towards the specific position you've applied for and how your background aligns with their expectations. Highlight areas that demonstrate how well-qualified you are (i.e internship experience or extracurricular activities related to outdoor activities). You want them to have no doubts about whether or not they should hire you!
Craft an effective cover letter: The cover letter is where potential employers get their first impression of who you are, so make sure it stands out! Describe why pursuing this particular opportunity appeals to you personally — focus on sharing genuine enthusiasm instead of merely listing responsibilities from prior positions — and why they should pick you over other applicants. Showing excitement regarding the prospect of working can go a long way!
Network with potential employers
Networking is one of the most important steps when it comes to finding a job in the outdoors industry. An informational interview is an amazing opportunity to gain knowledge about a potential employer. It is also a great way for employers to get to know you better and determine whether you'd be a good fit for their organization or not. It can make all the difference in the hiring process.
Take some time to research any potential employers and job openings that appeal to you. Reach out proactively and network with people who work in the field, as well as their contacts, to learn what they do, how they got into their positions, why they decided to work in this sector and what advice they can offer for getting started. Attend industry conferences and events if possible, or virtually introduce yourself through email or another means of communication like LinkedIn. If possible, use your connections from past internships or volunteer experiences that demonstrate your interest in the outdoors industry — these referral contacts can help you make connections with potential employers much faster than otherwise would be possible.
You should also consider joining professional organizations related to your area of focus such as The American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), Leave No Trace (LNT) The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). All of these organizations offer amazing educational resources, training programs and networking opportunities that will help build your career prospects in outdoor-related fields.
Growing Your Career
When it comes to turning your passion for the outdoors into a successful career, there is no single path to success. It takes dedication, hard work, and a willingness to learn and grow professionally.
In this section, we'll discuss how to build a successful career around your love of the outdoors. From gaining experience, pursuing certifications, and networking, you can grow your career and make a living out of what you love.
Set career goals
In order to find success in your outdoor-focused career, it is important to set career goals, both short-term and long-term. Short-term goals are beneficial because they help you focus on measurable objectives that can be reached in a relatively short period of time. Think about any professional development courses, industry certificates or qualifications you might need, or ways that you can increase your knowledge surrounding the outdoor industry.
Long-term goals encompass your ultimate career vision and will give you direction for the years ahead.
Successful goal setting usually involves an actionable plan with specific timelines for each objective. Consider creating a timeline of activities at regular intervals such as weekly or monthly, with achievable milestones along the way. Setting specific due dates for every activity helps keep you motivated and ensure forward momentum while developing your career.
Furthermore, break big tasks down into smaller activities to make them more manageable. By chunking down larger tasks into bite-sized pieces it means they become easier to work on over time –– which means less procrastinating and more task completion!
Take on additional responsibilities
Taking on additional responsibilities at work can not only boost your job satisfaction and emotional wellbeing, but it may also open up new opportunities for career growth. Talk to your supervisor or other higher-ups about what extra tasks you can take on in the short-term to help advance your goals within the organization. Even if the topic isn’t directly within your field of interest, taking on additional responsibilities can demonstrate that you are reliable and capable of undertaking a various workload.
You should also consider ways in which you can be an agent of change by helping move the organization forward with new ideas and initiatives that align with the mission and values of your workplace. This may require some initial energy upfront, such as attending relevant training programs or networking initiatives—but doing so could ultimately open up doors to greater influence and impact in the outdoor industry. Doing this can not only help grow your career, but it will also give you valuable professional skills that organizations seek out when considering potential candidates for promotion or higher roles.
Stay up-to-date on industry trends
It’s important that you stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends in the outdoors. This can include technological advances, new trends, and changes to relevant laws and regulations. Keeping yourself informed of these updates will enable you to provide the best advice and insights to your clients.
Furthermore, taking courses and conferences related to the outdoors can help broaden your knowledge base and allow you to network with others in your field. Networking is key when building relationships in the industry, so make sure you take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. You could also join an outdoor organization or club which will help connect you with people who have similar interests as yours.
Enrolling in online courses that are related to outdoor activities or attending seminars can also increase your expertise in this field and make you more employable. It also gives potential employers an idea of how dedicated you are to learning new things since employers value self-motivated employees who want to upgrade their skillset on a regular basis. Additionally, by immersing yourself within the industry environment, it gives you an opportunity to establish contacts that might play an important role in your career advancement down the line.Read this next:
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