How to Break into the Outdoor Industry

May 13, 2023

Are you passionate about the great outdoors and looking to turn that passion into a career? The outdoor industry, rooted in humanity’s innate love for nature and adventure, has evolved into a thriving sector encompassing a wide range of disciplines, from eco-tourism and adventure sports to conservation efforts and cutting-edge gear development. This diverse landscape offers a treasure trove of exciting opportunities for those who cherish the natural world and possess a sense of exploration.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll explore the top nine tips on how to turn your dreams of an outdoor career into reality.

1. Identify Your Outdoor Passion

Before you can break into the outdoor industry, it’s important to identify your specific interests and passions. Are you an avid hiker who dreams of leading groups through breathtaking landscapes? Or maybe you have a flair for design and want to create innovative outdoor gear? By narrowing down your focus and finding your niche, you’ll be better equipped to pursue a career path that aligns with your strengths and aspirations.

Once you’ve identified your passion, take the time to research related roles and job opportunities within the industry. Familiarize yourself with the skills and qualifications typically required for these positions. This will help you understand what you need to work on to become a strong candidate in your chosen field.

2. Get Educated in Your Chosen Field

The outdoor industry is vast, and different fields require specific qualifications. For instance, if you’re interested in adventure tourism, you might need certifications in first aid, outdoor leadership, or specialized training in activities such as rock climbing or rafting.

If you seek a comprehensive education in outdoor leadership and adventure, consider enrolling in a related bachelor’s degree program. A bachelor in outdoor education offers a well-rounded understanding of the industry while equipping graduates with the essential skills and knowledge to excel in a variety of outdoor professions. It also makes you a more competitive candidate in the job market.

In addition to formal education, stay up-to-date on industry trends, new products, and emerging technologies. Take a look at related blogs and news articles, and sign up for relevant newsletters. Besides expanding your knowledge, this will also demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm to potential employers.

3. Start Building Your Network

Networking is a crucial component of breaking into the outdoor industry. Building connections with experienced professionals can help you gain invaluable advice, discover new opportunities, and even land your dream job. To start expanding your network, consider joining professional associations and organizations related to your niche. These groups often host events, workshops, and conferences, providing you with ample chances to mingle with like-minded individuals.

Social media platforms like LinkedIn can also serve as powerful networking tools. Follow outdoor industry leaders, engage with their content, and join relevant groups to stay informed about trends and job openings. Don’t be shy about reaching out to people you admire; many professionals are happy to share their insights and experiences with newcomers.

4. Gain Experience through Internships and Volunteering

Hands-on experience is vital in the outdoor industry, as it demonstrates your dedication and competence to potential employers. Internships and volunteer opportunities allow you to gain practical skills while working alongside industry professionals. Seek out positions with established organizations that align with your niche, and don’t hesitate to take on diverse roles to broaden your skill set.

Not only will these experiences enhance your resume, but they will also provide you with a wealth of stories and lessons to draw upon during interviews. So, be proactive and immerse yourself in the world of outdoor work — you never know what doors may open as a result!

5. Showcase Your Skills with a Personal Portfolio

Creating an online portfolio or blog is a fantastic way to showcase your skills, experience, and passion for the outdoor industry. Include examples of your work, whether it’s photography from your latest hiking adventure, an article you’ve written about sustainable outdoor practices or sketches of gear designs you’ve conceptualized.

When building your portfolio, focus on quality over quantity. Carefully curate your best work and ensure it’s well-organized and easy to navigate. Don’t forget to include a short bio and contact information, so potential employers or collaborators can easily reach you. Regularly update your portfolio with new projects and experiences to keep it fresh and relevant.

6. Attend Industry Events and Trade Shows

Industry events and trade shows are perfect networking opportunities, learning about new products, and discovering job openings. Popular outdoor events such as Outdoor Retailer, Adventure Travel World Summit, and the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival attract professionals from all corners of the industry.

When attending industry events, don’t be shy about approaching professionals and introducing yourself. Have a short elevator pitch ready, describing your background and interests, and be prepared to engage in meaningful conversations about the industry. Bring business cards to exchange contact information and follow up with the connections you make after the event.

7. Consider Entrepreneurship

If you have a unique idea, skillset, or product that you believe can make an impact in the outdoor industry, consider starting your own business. Entrepreneurship allows you to carve your path and potentially create job opportunities for others who share your passion for the outdoors.

However, entrepreneurship comes with its own set of challenges, such as financial risks and the need for self-discipline. Before embarking on this journey, thoroughly research your target market, develop a solid business plan, and seek guidance from mentors or industry professionals.

8. Develop Your Outdoor Leadership Skills

Strong leadership skills are highly valued in the outdoor industry, whether you’re leading a team of wilderness guides or managing an outdoor retail store. To hone your leadership abilities, consider enrolling in outdoor leadership courses or seeking mentorship from experienced professionals.

Volunteering for leadership roles within your local outdoor club or organization can also provide valuable experience. As you develop these skills, make sure to highlight them on your resume and in interviews to demonstrate your potential as a leader in the industry.

9. Be Persistent and Adaptable

Breaking into the outdoor industry can be a competitive endeavor, but persistence and adaptability are key. Keep yourself motivated by setting well-defined goals, monitoring your achievements, and taking the time to appreciate your victories, no matter how small they may be.

As you chase your dreams in the outdoor industry, you might encounter obstacles or unforeseen challenges. Instead of getting discouraged, view these as chances to learn, evolve, and adjust your strategies. Always remember, your enthusiasm and tenacity will be your strongest allies as you aim to leave your mark in this thrilling domain.


Breaking into the outdoor industry may seem challenging initially, but with determination, the right skills, and a well-crafted strategy, you can turn your passion into a fulfilling career. Start with identifying your passion and then gain relevant education and experience. Invest in building a strong network by attending workshops. All this will help you to a fulfilling and adventurous career.

About the Author Kyrie Mattos

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