Job Sheet: Outdoor Instructor
Job title: Outdoor Instructor/Guide
The job involves using the outdoor environment to facilitate a learning experience or just to provide a great fun experience. It can be quite a powerful position as seeds sown in the outdoors can lead to big changes back in people's normal lives.
Outdoor leadership can be one of the most rewarding and exciting jobs in New Zealand, however it is not all sunshine and roses. Leaders need to be able to work long hours; some working days will exceed 10 hours. They will often be responsible for the clients' wellbeing as well as ensuring that their expectations are met and therefore leaders will need to be at the top of his or her game for the whole time.
As well as the technical skills pertaining to the activity the outdoor leader will be expected to have a good understanding of the local area, an understanding of local issues, and an affinity with the landscape. Most importantly they need to be able to gain a rapport with any client.
To become an outdoor recreation instructor you need to have a first aid certificate and depending on the specific activity you choose, you may need specific qualifications.
There are a number of qualification pathways available;
1. Outdoor education at school - if someone is lucky enough
to be in a school with solid outdoor ed programmes this is a good
2. Tertiary outdoor courses - These are one or two year courses aimed at teaching skills that could lead through to being an outdoor instructor.
3. National Certificate in Outdoor Recreation (Level 4), 18 to 19 year olds who want a start in the outdoors.
These days younger and younger people are starting work in the outdoors. Early twenties seem to be an average age. However experience of the outdoors will be essential. You need good judgement and to get good judgement you need a lot of varied experiences and these come from spending a lot of time in the outdoors without clients.
Experience and qualifications will provide you the best chance of landing a job as an outdoor leader.
The costs really depend on which pathway people take. Course costs for full blown residential tertiary education course will run into thousands of dollars at the other end of the spectrum some leaders will have their employer pay for them to be trained.
Location of job:
Job locations vary throughout the country from coastal to inland
in the high mountains. Some are based near large cities whilst
others will be in some of the most remote areas of New
A possible career path:
Often outdoor recreation instructors begin their careers as assistant instructors. As their skills and experience improve, they may progress to work in more specialised roles and become senior or sole charge instructors.
Due to the high intensity and physical demands of the work, many outdoor recreation instructors move into less physically demanding roles in coordinating or training as they become older.
A large proportion of outdoor recreation instructors also move into management roles in outdoor recreation centres, and tourism and adventure companies.
Some key tips
- Gain personal experience;
- Participate in outdoor education at school;
- Focus on one technical pursuit but remain active in a wide range of outdoor pursuits;
- Start working towards nationally recognised qualifications such as the National Certificates in outdoor instruction or NZOIA level 1 qualifications; (Either attend a tertiary education course or apply for a job with a company that requires entry level leaders).
-Gain nationally recognised instructional qualifications;
- Broaden your outdoor interest and gain qualifications in a multitude of disciplines.
Pay for an outdoor recreation instructor varies, but they usually earn between $20,000 and $45,000 a year depending on the leaders experience, qualifications and the amount of responsibility taken. Many instructors are self-employed or work on short-term seasonal contracts.
Other careers this profession could lead to:
Many outdoor recreation instructors move into less physically demanding roles in coordinating or training as they become older.
A large proportion of outdoor recreation instructors also move
into management roles in outdoor recreation centres, and tourism
and adventure companies.
Places/websites to source information about this job:
Check out - www.skillsactive.org.nz
Any other relevant points:
Get out more!