Top 5 Extreme Adventure Jobs

orange square You will not find the following positions at your local outdoor activity centre, which is why we decided to title this page, extreme adventure jobs. They all require years of training and experience, but if your aim is to progress to some of the top jobs in outdoor adventure, there is a wide range of really extreme adventures to choose from. You may remember, a few years ago there was a popular news story about the so called, best job in the world. OK so the winner got to live in a great tropical location, and do something he enjoyed, but it all looked a bit tame to us. Sure it was a nice job, but best job in the world? We think you will find there are better, and we have scoured the globe to bring them to your attention.

alaska tundra

Adventure Guide in the Denali National Park, Alaska

This is adventure tourism at its best. These guides are responsible for taking people who may or may not have previous experience of the outdoors, and showing them some of the most incredible terrain they are ever likely to see. Working in a true wilderness environment, daily adventures include hunting moose and deer, fishing for Steelhead salmon, climbing mountains that would not look out of place in the high Alps, and kayaking the upper raches of wild rivers swollen by snow melt. Accommodation is basic log cabin style, with longer trips into the tundra to teach survival skills. Food is mostly what they manage to catch, due to few opportunities to visit towns for supplies and a definite lack of fast food restaurants. Read a few Jack London books or watch the channel four programme Alone in the Wild to get a feel for the remoteness and inhospitableness of the environment up here. This isn't a job for people who like to play at being adventurous; the people who work here could show some of the popular celebrity survival experts a thing or two. It's not without risks; guides are responsible for other people in often dangerous situations, and first aid knowledge is vital. If you want to live in a place of remote majestic beauty, introducing other people to wilderness living in a safe manner, then consider becoming a wilderness guide.

yacht detail

Open Ocean Yacht Crew, Atlantic Ocean

Even if you have no real interest in sailing, if you read some of the books written by sailors who have competed in the Vendée Globe you cannot help but admire the passion and single mindedness that these people display. Like quite a few ultimate adventure jobs, it is not something you should enter if you want a glamorous life style. We may typically associate yachts with wealth, but for a lot of sailors, the boat belongs to someone else and they live in relative poverty while trying to secure their next voyage. Of course none of that then matters once they are cutting through the waves with the spinnaker flying. Covering hundreds or even thousands of miles, these ocean adventurers get to spend time off in some wonderful port cities before returning to the next leg of their journey. The job may involve a mix of taking other people sailing, showing rich company executives or charity groups how to handle a large ocean going yachts, and racing. This certainly is not a job with a set path and while these sailors may have goals they wish to achieve, just as they have to deviate from the obvious route to chase the wind, opportunities along the way will shape their career as an ocean sailor.

mountain guides

Mountaineering Guide, South America

The traditional route for this role might be the mountain leader training qualifications, followed by the international mountain leader qualification, though there are other options and experience counts for much more than qualifications. Many local guides who take people along the Inca trails of northern Peru are locals and have nothing more than a life-long knowlege of the terrain and an genetic adaptaion to high altitudes. Mountain guides are responsible for taking relatively inexperienced climbers into the mountains, both for the experience itself, and also to learn new skills and techniques. Even the experienced and physically fit will benefit from the wisdom of a local guide who knows the terrain. Looking out for the group's safety is the number one priority for any guide, though they are also expected to have good knowledge of the local area's geology and environment. Whether or not the mountains are your home, this is another dangerous career path, with accidents claiming lives each year. But to get paid to live and work in the most breath taking landscapes is worth the danger for many people who move out of the towns and cities to make their living in the mountains.

people rafting

White Water Expedition Guide, Colorado

White water rapids, caused by obstructions and changes in gradient, especially where the upper stages of rivers cut through narrow rocky terrain, can be found the world over. Though the rivers of North America, and of Colorado in particular offer notoriously brilliant stretches of rapids. Anyone who has been canoeing on a river has probably felt the excitement of shooting a stretch of rapids, but specialist expedition teams offer to take people through class six sections of river that look almost impossible to navigate to the untrained eye. To do this job river guides need to be very strong paddlers, excellent swimmers, be able to maintain all the safety equipment and the boats, have a complete knowledge of fluvial systems, and without trying to sound too cheesy, be at one with the river. A liking for scaring the pants off the people being guided down the river also helps! It is often seasonal work, so outside of the summer months they usually have another job, or relocate to less extreme sections of river.

deep sea diver

Commerical Diver, Gulf of Mexico

Not a career that people will undertake lightly, with a high entry cost and lots of training and hard work, this is something that needs real commitment. That said, if diving is your passion, the excitement and rewards for a commercial diver are extensive. One month you may be helping to mend a commercial dock, another you may be trying to recover treasure. Commercial divers spend much of their time traveling, which does not make for an easy family life, but if that is not an issue, then chances are you will see the four corners of the world, especially as one of the main sectors that need this kind of support is deep sea oil and gas exploration. The divers who work in the Gulf of Mexico are often kept busy by a combination of thousands of rigs and a yearly cycle of hurricane damage. The pay isn't bad either with salaries topping a thousand pounds a day for well qualified divers, but such high salaries are not paid without good reason. While incredibly exciting, this is tough and dangerous work.


From time to time we advertise positions that solicit comments from the office along the lines of, "oo nice" and, "now I could definitely have a go at that". Have a look at our current posts to see if anything grabs your attention!

Instructor characteristics

Instructor characteristics

If you want to work outdoors as an activity instructor you need to know the qualities that employers are looking for, and therefore, whether you are going to be suitable for the role. Instructing introduces you to lots of new people, often on a daily basis. You are required to quickly gel so that you can help them get the most from the new skills and experiences that they are there to take part in. That means you need to be a certain kind of person. In this article we look at the characteristics that separate good instructors from the rest, and discuss why these character traits are so important for the role.

Instructor characteristics >>

Mountain Leader awards

Mountain Leader awards

To get an idea of the full route from beginner climber through to professional mountaineer, take a look at our career guide to climbing, further down this page. This post is all about the Mountain Leader awards which come in two flavours - Summer and Winter. They follow on from Walking Group Leader and set you up on the start of a career leading small groups in mountainous terrain.

Mountain Leader awards >>

Highest Salaries

Highest Salaries

Perhaps you want to spend a season working in outdoor adventure as a way of filling the time between college and university, or on a temporary basis before you start working towards that 'proper' job that your parents want you to get. Or maybe you are serious about getting on and making as much money as you can, which still enjoying a career in outdoor adventure. If you are wondering which roles are going to give you the highest disposable income then take a look at this article as we bring you details of eight well paid jobs.

Highest Salaries >>