22 October 2016Last updated

Features | People

Ask the expert: how can I have an outdoor career?

Degrees in business management, outdoor education, leadership or physical education would help

Sanjeev Verma
9 Sep 2016 | 12:00 am

What are the career options available for outdoor sports? I don’t want to sit in a closed office every day, and I need to convince my parents of my career choice.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all take our office and work to the mountains, deserts, wilderness or yachts in the ocean! Believe me, it is not as improbable as it sounds. The opportunities to pursue outdoor activities and adventure-infused careers are numerous. But you need to ensure that along with the passion, you have the skill sets.

With the right credentials and expertise there are plenty of jobs available. Even with the economy downturn the leisure/adventure sector saw a 5 per cent growth.

Activity centres and adventure holidays offer a variety of sports such as cycling, mountaineering, water sports, safaris, skiing, white-water rafting, high-altitude trekking, cross-country motorcycling and countless others. To work in these jobs would require technical skills specific to that activity. And managing such centres requires training in specialised areas and managerial skills. Managers will be responsible for recruiting, overseeing housekeeping and finances, training, ensuring facilities and equipment are safe, supervising staff, etc.

You’ll need to constantly upgrade your own skills in tandem with current trends and technology, organise programmes for groups, and even lecture on various topics (history of the area, geography…) And with these activities being outdoor, bear in mind that safety is a very important issue.

You need to have leadership skills, be calm under severe and extreme conditions, and have the ability to motivate people. Remember that even the best-planned event can go awry because of the vagaries of nature.

Degrees in business management, outdoor education, leadership or physical education would help. There are also postgraduate degrees in outdoor education and recreation management, with additional qualifications in counselling and mentoring, business management, finance or marketing. These will help you set up your own business in varied fields.

The very nature of these activities means that the working hours would be irregular and long, and the workplace could be in remote areas. But yes, you will not be cooped up in an office. It is necessary to acknowledge, though, that having a passion for adventure or outdoor activities is not synonymous with possessing the required skill sets in this very demanding job.

Try working part-time during holidays and weekends to find out if you have what it takes to be an instructor.

Other non-instructor careers that don’t require you to be in an office all day are landscape design, marine biology, geology, archaeology, farming, jobs in energy and those related to the environment. The choice is vast.

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Sanjeev Verma

Sanjeev Verma

is a leading international education counsellor