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8 Outdoor Office-Job Alternatives

If you’re tired of the desk-jockeying, 9-5 grind and find yourself longingly looking out the window (you know, the one that’s probably not near your desk), listen up. You have options! The call of the wild shouldn’t only have to be adhered to on weekends. Here are 8 jobs that’ll get you outside the office and back into nature while still earning you a paycheck.

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_001Surf Instructor
This one’s for the water people with board skills. If you happen to live in a coastal, tourist destination city, this one’s easy to do (and even if you don’t, it’s not a bad excuse to pack up that car and finally cross off coast living from your bucket list). Learning to surf is a skill a lot of people dream of mastering or like to try for fun while on vacation, so if you live to surf and don’t mind teaching, this could be the gig for you. A lot of beachside cities have competitive surfing academies and camps, which tend to draw more residents and less tourists if you’re the type who would prefer teaching those with a bit more long-term dedication. Additionally, some coastal rental places combine instruction for multiple water sports including kayaking and paddle boarding, lending opportunities to lead a variety of activities and people who just want to get out and try something new.

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_002Ski Resort Driver
Summer’s ending and cooler months are right around the corner, which means ski resorts around the country are looking for workers. If teaching isn’t your thing, resorts like those in Vail, Colorado are hiring bus drivers to caravan tourists up and down the mountain and around the area, with shifts between 5:30 am and 2:30 pm. Perks include a Resort Ski Pass for the season, so when you’re not getting paid, you can slice powder without putting a dent in your earnings.

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_003Trail Builder
If you’ve got a heart for conservation and the soul of a backpacker, a career in trail building might be the place for you. Job responsibilities can vary between maintenance and restoration of heavily trafficked areas to building new structures such as bridges or throughways. Those who don’t like getting dirty or consider the occasional bout of poison ivy a badge of honor need not apply. Check out the Professional Trail Builders Association for openings across the country, or check in with your local ranger stations to see what kind of jobs may be available.

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_004Gear Tester (Read: Extreme Snowboarders and Other Outdoor Warriors)
It’s not often, but from time to time job titles like Director of Toughness come along. Recently, Columbia Sportswear posted such a position, which would take applicants to some of the world’s most rugged locations to test out gear for snowboarding, mountain climbing and other various activities and document it via social media. If that doesn’t have “dream job” written all over it, I don’t know what does. As you can imagine, the two slots for Columbia’s gear testing toughness directors were filled pretty much instantly, but, don’t despair, there are plenty of other ways to try out a job like this. Hundreds of magazines, blogs and organizations such as Backpacking Magazine and Gear Institute offer opportunities to get out in nature, test out products and then write about it. The key is researching often and getting your foot in the door.

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_005Sports Photographer/Filmmaker
Cover and attend pro-skating or winter sports events like the World Snowboard Tour Pro Series by becoming a sports photographer or filmmaker. This one may be a bit harder to break into, but one suggestion to get started is signing up for an adventure photography or filmmaking class like those found at Serac Adventure Film School. Another perhaps more financially attainable option is to start looking up professionals in your area and asking for some tips or the chance to shadow onsite. But, if you’re already involved in skating or another other extreme sports, investing in some good equipment and just going for it may be the way to go. Start submitting your work to outdoor blogs or outdoor film showings such as Boulder’s Adventure Film Festival.

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_006Mountain Bike Adventure Guide
If you’re a seasoned outdoor cyclist or mountain biker you can become an adventure guide through REI’s Outdoor School, which features a range of sport-specific experiences for travellers. These REI Adventures feature destinations and outdoor experiences all over the world, from Machu Picchu and Costa Rica to Iceland and the Galapagos Islands. However, REI isn’t the only avenue. Travel and adventure companies all over are in need of experienced sports and outdoorsmen to help plan, coordinate and lead groups of adventurers.

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_007“Fill In This Blank With Your Passion” Freelance Writer
Whatever your pleasure, passion or expertise, with the right set of skills and can’t-stop-won’t-stop attitude you can turn your interests into a lucrative freelance career. However, like most things worthy, this takes time to develop. Outdoor writer and photographer Aaron Teasdale was initially just a 24-year-old mountain bike adventurer who would write novella-length letters to his friends about his trips. Eventually he began submitting his stories to magazines and his freelance career began. Of the pursuit of passion Teasdale says, “Keep it up long enough, and you might even get asked to write about it.” I’d say don’t wait for the ask, just do it (but don’t forget to spellcheck).

OT_Blog_Featured_OfficeJobAlternatives_008BASE Jump Lead
This one’s for the dare devils and adrenaline junkies. Those looking to become BASE jump instructors can make up to $70,000, which isn’t too shabby when you consider you get to free fall for a living. There are academies and schools around the country that lead and instruct jumps. Maybe you’re already one of these fearless gravity-dancers, but if not, you can watch the National Geographic documentary on American mountaineer, wingsuit flyer and BASE jumper, Joby Ogwyn and his training to become a BASE jump athlete in just 60 days.

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