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The 5 Most Adventurous Jobs for Travel Enthusiasts and Adrenaline Junkies

Posted On: 08/14/2020

Although a desk job is perfectly adequate for some, for many travel enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies, stationary occupations just won’t cut it. This article details five adventurous career options, including their respective duties, requirements, and job outlook.

Adventure Guide

Adventure guides offer their expertise in specific areas for individuals looking to get out into nature and learn. There are many different guide options within the industry, offering a variety of options to choose from that fit any individual’s outdoor preferences or expertise. Some examples of adventure guide options include:

  • Tour guide
  • Backpacking guide
  • Hunting guide
  • Fishing guide
  • Foraging guide
  • Camping guide
  • Survival guide
  • Climbing guide

Since adventure guides primarily work outdoors, the risks and action of the job vary depending on your specialization, and the area you work in. There is no shortage of animal encounters, beautiful scenery, and thrill-seeking adventures.

What Does It Take to Become an Adventure Guide?

The requirements to become an adventure guide depend entirely on the organization that you choose to work for. You could start your own guide company, but many guides work for some sort of an outfitter organization for experience first. Most organizations will require you to have some sort of first aid certification, either through the American Red Cross Sport and Wilderness First Aid certification, or a Wilderness First Aid certification (WFA). Other required certifications can vary depending on your employer, or work environment. For example, if you work as a paddlesports guide, you may be required to receive training in water rescue courses through the American Canoe Association (ACA), or lifeguard and water safety training through the American Red Cross.

The requirements to become an adventure guide depend entirely on the organization that you choose to work for. You could start your own guide company, but many guides work for some sort of an outfitter organization for experience first. Most organizations will require you to have some sort of first aid certification, either through the American Red Cross Sport and Wilderness First Aid certification, or a Wilderness First Aid certification (WFA). Other required certifications can vary depending on your employer, or work environment. For example, if you work as a paddlesports guide, you may be required to receive training in water rescue courses through the American Canoe Association (ACA), or lifeguard and water safety training through the American Red Cross.

Some of the skills necessary for success as an adventure guide include:

  • Customer service skills
  • Educational skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Outdoor living skills
  • Team building skills

Much like certification requirements, the equipment and gear necessary for adventure guides will vary depending on what type of guide you are, and your employer. For example, a hunting guide may need an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), or a utility task vehicle (UTV), a vehicle for transport, and power sports ramps to perform their job properly. Generally, you will need a map, compass, cookware, a tent, and a sleeping bag.

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from 2019, the occupational outlook for adventure guides came out to just under 40,000 jobs in the U.S. The same data indicates that the median wages were $13.27 hourly or $27,600 annually. This can vary due to your employer, or the prices you have set for your own guide company.

Wildland Firefighter

A wildland firefighter’s primary concerns are attending to active fires alongside fire prevention. As a wildland firefighter, you are not only outdoors, you are responsible for the preservation of the outdoors in areas that are considered at-risk for fires. You are working with heavy machinery, lots of gear, and alongside a variety of other adrenaline junkies in an occupation that requires quick thinking and action. It is important to note that there are a few different types of wildland firefighter jobs to choose from — the list includes:

  • Engine crew
  • Fuel crew
  • Hand crew
  • Helitack crew
  • Hotshot crew
  • Prescribed wildland fire crew
  • Smokejumper crew
  • Wildland fire module crew
search and Rescue helicopter
A Wildland Firefighter putting out a forest fire | Image by Outside Online

What Does It Take to Become a Wildland Firefighter?

Naturally, requirements to be a successful wildland firefighter are primarily physical; You must pass the physical requirements of wildland firefighters in order to land this job. First, you must pass a pre-employment medical examination paid for by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Next, you will need to perform a pack test, which requires you to walk three miles with 45 lbs of weight in your backpack in under 45 minutes. The terrain is generally difficult in order to simulate working in difficult areas with all of your equipment. The pack test is given once you report for duty. If you are unable to complete the test, you must retake the test within a two week period. If you are unable to complete it the second time around, you may be terminated.

The necessary equipment for success in this role depends on what type of wildland firefighter you are. Traditionally, the equipment needed is as follows:

  • Backpack
  • Boots
  • Chainsaw
  • Fire-resistant clothing
  • Hard hat
  • Leather gloves
  • Sleeping bag
  • Tent

Job Outlook

According to the BLS, in 2019 the occupational outlook for wildland firefighters was 2,160 in the U.S. The same data indicates that the median hourly wage for wildland firefighters was $21.77 hourly, and $45,270 annually. It is important to note that generally, this is not a year-round job, rather a “fire season” position. As you gain additional experience, you could look for full-time positions, or even become a fire chief.

Travel Writers and Photographers

Travel writers and photographers are ideal jobs for a travel enthusiast. Travel writers focus on putting their journeys into writing, while travel photographers capture visuals of their voyages. It is entirely possible to combine the two options as well. A job as a travel writer or photographer has a variety of subset options to pick from. These include:

  • Writing
    • Food reviews/guide
    • “How-to” travel guides
    • Travel blogging
    • Travel itineraries
    • Travel memoirs
    • Travel news
  • Photography/Video:
    • Aerial
    • Architectural
    • Documentary
    • Food
    • Landscape
    • Street

What makes this so exciting is the endless opportunity. Since your job revolves around content, you will need to travel, explore, and find viable options for content. Doing so can get expensive when you consider travel costs like transportation, lodging, and food. One way to reduce these costs is to camp instead of getting an Airbnb, or hotel/motel. If you travel year-round, you will want to understand how to camp in all seasons to ensure you are keeping yourself safe while saving money.

What Does It Take to Become a Travel Writer or Photographer?

There are no educational requirements or certifications necessary to become a travel writer or photographer — although a portfolio of your work and a bachelor’s degree in journalism might be beneficial. There are generally two ways to become a traveling writer or photographer:

  1. Freelance work: there is no guarantee of work, but if you have recurring clients, a good portfolio, and good reviews this could be a viable way for you to achieve this
  2. Building an online following: if you build your following on social media and promote your writing or photography on your social, it can be a good way to point to your product page or to get signed by an organization (contract, brand deal, etc.)

Becoming a travel writer or photographer can be more difficult, so obtaining the following skills will be helpful:

  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Self-editing
  • Planning
  • Research
  • Technology
  • Writing

The equipment necessary depends entirely on what you plan to do, and where you plan to do it. For example, if you are living entirely on the road, a laptop (and charger), pens, paper, and a camera (and charger) with extra batteries would be helpful.

Job Outlook

According to BLS data from 2019, the occupational employment for writers was 123,200 in the U.S. while another report by the BLS shows that occupational employment for photographers was 132,100. The same studies go on to indicate that writers averaged $30.09 hourly or $63,200 annually, and photographers made around $17.44 hourly or $36,280 annually. Since success in this career choice generally comes from your own efforts, the job outlook for this career is endless.

Search-and-Rescue Professional

Search-and-rescue is a great option for a daredevil or thrill-seeker. When an individual(s) who is hiking, boating, flying, etc. gets lost, search-and-rescue is the organization responsible for locating and bringing the individual(s) to safety. There are three primary facets of how search-and-rescue functions:

  • Law enforcement officers
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Volunteers

Common types of search-and-rescue teams include:

  • Bicycle
  • Dive
  • Horse
  • K-9
  • High-angle
  • Mountain
  • Urban
  • Wilderness

What Does It Take to Get a Job in Search and Rescue?

In order to get a job in search-and-rescue, you will need to get certified in incident command system procedures (ICS) and national incident management systems (NIMS). You can complete both certification programs online through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Your employer may require additional training on top of the mentioned certifications.

A career in search-and-rescue can be draining both physically and mentally. Necessary skills for success in the occupation include:

  • Climbing
  • Endurance
  • First aid
  • Good eyesight
  • Leadership
  • Navigation
  • Physical strength
  • Perseverance
  • Positivity
  • Radio communication
  • Survival
  • Swimming

The necessary equipment for search-and-rescue depends on the type of rescue at hand. Traditional equipment includes a map, compass, rain jacket, whistle, knife, off-road vehicles (ATV, UTV, etc.), as well as the carriers, ramps, or lifts necessary for transport and vehicle maintenance.

search and Rescue helicopter
Search and Rescue Helicopter | Image by Elsemargriet from Pixabay

Job Outlook

According to BLS data from 2018, the occupational employment for search-and-rescue professionals was just under 170,000 jobs in the U.S. and it is expected to continue growing over the years. Search and rescue salaries average around $35,471 annually, and that comes out to around $17 hourly. A large majority of the search-and-rescue relies on volunteer work, so you want to ensure that you are not signing up for an unpaid program (unless you are planning to do so for experience).

Bush Pilot

Bush pilots use their flying expertise to take small planes with small groups of people to remote areas around the world. The tricky part is that the areas are less commercialized, so landing and communications can be quite a bit more challenging. Due to the small nature of the plane, there are generally no co-pilots, so you hold the sole responsibility for the safety of your passengers as well as yourself.

What Does It Take to Become a Bush Pilot?

Out of the jobs listed, becoming a bush pilot requires the most training. You will need to possess or obtain the following requirements in order to become a bush pilot:

  • 500 hours of flight experience
  • Commercial pilot license
  • Instrument pilot license
  • A&P license
  • High-performance endorsement

Aside from the above requirements, the following skills are traits that a successful bush pilot has:

  • Adaptability
  • Confidence
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Great eyesight
  • Multi-tasking
  • Survival
  • Time-Time-management

The primary equipment necessary for success as a bush pilot is a plane. If you get hired as a pilot by an organization, you may have one provided to you, but similar to long-haul trucking, if you own your own vehicle, you generally make more money. There are nine different types of bush planes you can choose from. Other helpful equipment would include:

  • Compass
  • Extra fuel
  • Map
  • Radio
  • Sleeping bag
  • Tent

Job Outlook

According to BLS data from 2019, the occupational employment for bush pilots was just under 125,000 in the U.S. It is important to note that this number includes all types of pilots, not just bush pilots. So the actual numbers may fluctuate. The same article goes on to say that not only is it a fast-growing industry, but the median pay also comes out to $121,430 annually (much higher than the national average).