WRITTEN BY ANNE ENSOLL (with a little help from eight contributors)
In our My Story blog series, one of the questions we ask is this: If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to work in the outdoors, what would it be?
Expert advice, freely given, is invaluable if you're further down the career ladder, so we've compiled the eight answers we've had so far into one blog post.
To be an instructor or guide, you need to love climbing and really like people. Be honest with yourself, and if you don’t like being with people enough, get a well-paid job and be a recreational climber.
Look after your body if you want more than a decade in the industry. It’s a fantastically rewarding job but it is dependent on robust physical health!
Write down every route you climb, every mountain walk you do, every canoe trip. If you apply for any award scheme, you will need a logbook, and it will save you loads of time if you’ve already got a record of it all.
Get experience and get qualified, but if the minimum requirement of something is ten, then do twenty. The experience will make any course or assessment easier, and as an employer, what I look for now is not just qualifications but experience. It is that ability to interact with clients of all ages and backgrounds that makes for a successful career and repeated job offers.
Consider what lifestyle you want as well as what career you would like. Where do you want to live, what work/life balance are you after, what kind of income is important to you? Working outdoors is great, but you have to really like people as well as the activities. The people that have progressed upwards the most in terms of qualifications and experience are generally those that have travelled the most and been willing to spend a lot of time away from home. The outdoor industry also isn’t generally a very well paid one. But, when you look back, will you be most satisfied with the amount of money you have earned or the quality of your life and work?
You’ve gotta love it! Do it for the right reasons and it’ll reward you for the rest of your life. And if you’re new to the outdoor industry get your face known – go around as many centres as you can, volunteer lots, and stay in people’s consciousness. It’s the sort of industry where ‘who you know’ is really important.
To be an inspirational instructor you have to love the outdoors and love people. If you are flaky on either front, then it's probably not the job for you. My advice? Be excellent in everything that you do. Gain the highest qualifications, be the smartest, the most creative, and always look for ways to improve.
Find what you love, take chances and work hard. I took a gamble working for pennies as an apprentice and I can’t say I pictured my work outdoors leading me to the Arctic! But my love of cold places eventually led to my favourite job - ski guiding across vast glaciated landscapes. I’ve tried really hard in the past few years to really make the most of my time and it now means I can continue to travel to inspiring places with wonderful people. Go chase some adventures!