Can Hiking Be A Career? (How to get paid to hike.)

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to earn a living by simply hiking? Imagine waking up each morning, lacing up your hiking boots, and stepping out into the great outdoors, knowing that this is how you’re making your living. It seems like a dream, but can hiking be a career?

Hiking by itself is not a career. Getting compensated directly and exclusively for hiking just isn’t feasible.

That being said, don’t be discouraged. There is an abundance of career opportunities that incorporate hiking as a significant part of the job. If you’re passionate about hiking and wish to incorporate it into your livelihood, there are a number of jobs and career paths where this is possible.

can hiking be a career

Careers That Incorporate Hiking

If you’re someone who feels an adrenaline rush at the sight of a hiking trail and finds peace in the rhythm of your steps on a woodland path, then you’re probably wondering, “How can I make this more than just a hobby?” Good news – there are a bunch of careers out there that not only allow but require a love for hiking.

First off, consider becoming a trail guide. Trail guides have the pleasure of exploring hiking trails and sharing their experiences with others. It’s their job to lead groups of people through different trails, sharing their knowledge of the local flora, fauna, and geography along the way. Plus, the opportunity to meet other hiking enthusiasts is a great bonus!

Maybe you’re also passionate about helping others. If so, a career in wilderness therapy could be right up your alley. Wilderness therapists take groups out into nature and use the challenges and tranquility of the outdoors as a means of therapeutic intervention. It’s a unique blend of hiking, outdoor survival skills, and psychology.

two hikers in wilderness therapy

For those who like the idea of preserving natural habitats while spending ample time in them, a career as a park ranger might be appealing. Park rangers help manage and protect national and state parks, which involves a lot of time exploring trails and keeping an eye on the health of the ecosystem.

So, as you can see, there are plenty of ways to turn your love for hiking into a fulfilling career. It’s all about finding the path that feels right for you!

Stepping Into Adventure: How to Become a Trail Guide

If you’re looking for a way to combine your love of hiking with a fulfilling career, then let’s talk about becoming a trail guide. It’s a job that’s all about sharing your love for the great outdoors with others – sounds pretty amazing, right?

As a trail guide, you get to spend your days leading groups of hikers along various trails. Whether you’re taking people through towering forests, across mountain ranges, or along peaceful coastal paths, you’re in charge of navigating the way and ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

But it’s not just about walking and admiring the views. It’s also about sharing your knowledge and passion for nature with your group. You’ll be expected to know the trails like the back of your hand and to share interesting tidbits about the local flora, fauna, and geographical features. If a hiker spots an unusual bird or plant, you’ll be their go-to person for information.

hiking tour guide

To become a trail guide, you’ll typically need a strong background in hiking and outdoor survival skills. Certifications in first aid and CPR are also often required, as safety is paramount in this job. Some companies might ask for formal qualifications in outdoor education or a related field, but this isn’t always necessary – a lot of what you need to know can be learned on the job.

In a nutshell, becoming a trail guide is about much more than just hiking. It’s about leading the way, educating others, and ensuring everyone has a memorable and safe experience on the trail. If you’re passionate about hiking and love the idea of sharing this with others, this could be your dream job!

From Trails to Transformation: Wilderness Therapy as a Career

Now, if you’re someone who appreciates the therapeutic potential of the great outdoors, a career in wilderness therapy might be just the trail for you to tread. This unique field blends hiking, adventure, psychology, and counseling in a manner that allows you to help others while embracing your love for nature.

In the wilderness therapy field, you guide individuals or groups through outdoor adventures that serve as both a physical journey and a transformative emotional experience. These wilderness programs are designed to help people overcome personal challenges, ranging from mental health issues to substance abuse or behavioral problems. It’s about using the great outdoors as a metaphorical and literal platform for change and growth.

wilderness therapist with a dog

As a wilderness therapist, your office is the great outdoors. You’ll spend a significant portion of your time hiking, camping, and engaging in various outdoor activities with your clients. This isn’t a typical 9-to-5 job; it’s a role that requires dedication, patience, and a deep understanding of both nature and human psychology.

To venture into this career, you’ll typically need qualifications in a field like psychology, social work, or counseling. It’s also crucial to have solid outdoor skills, with a good knowledge of hiking and wilderness survival. Moreover, many employers look for candidates with certifications in wilderness first aid or similar qualifications.

In a nutshell, wilderness therapy offers a way to connect your love for hiking with a profound opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Imagine that – making a real impact, all while walking under the open sky! Sounds pretty fulfilling, doesn’t it?

On Nature’s Frontline: Embracing the Role of a Park Ranger

If you have a passion for hiking and a deep respect for nature’s wonders, then the role of a park ranger might be your perfect trailhead to a rewarding career. As a park ranger, your job is far from ordinary – you’re the guardian of our natural heritage, protecting and preserving it for future generations to enjoy.

Park rangers play a vital role in managing and safeguarding national and state parks. But this isn’t just a desk job – far from it. You’ll be out on the trails, hiking through various terrains, observing wildlife, and ensuring the health and safety of the park’s ecosystems. You’ll also be on the front lines of conservation efforts, implementing measures to protect the park’s natural resources.

But there’s another side to this job as well. As a park ranger, you also serve as a liaison to the public. You’ll engage with visitors, providing them with information about the park’s features, history, and regulations. This can be especially rewarding if you enjoy sharing your love of nature and hiking with others.

park ranger

Becoming a park ranger usually requires a degree in a field such as environmental science, biology, or park and recreation management. Additionally, you’ll need a good base of outdoor skills, including hiking, camping, and possibly even wilderness survival.

In a nutshell, as a park ranger, you’re not just getting paid to hike. You’re playing a crucial role in preserving our natural spaces and educating the public about their importance. Now that’s a job with a view, and a purpose too!

Capturing the Journey: Travel Writing and Landscape Photography as a Career

So, you love to hike, but you also have a knack for storytelling or a keen eye for capturing stunning images? If that’s you, then the intertwined fields of travel writing and landscape photography might just be the perfect career paths to explore.

Travel writers and landscape photographers have the exciting job of bringing adventures to life for others. Whether it’s through beautifully crafted narratives or awe-inspiring images, they capture the essence of their travels and share it with the world.

As a travel writer, your hiking expeditions become fodder for compelling stories. You get to narrate your experiences, describe the places you’ve been, the trails you’ve explored, and the people you’ve met along the way. Your words can transport readers right to the heart of your journey, making them feel as if they’re trekking alongside you.

wilderness photographer

On the other hand, as a landscape photographer, you’ll be capturing the natural beauty of the trails you hike. Your task will be to encapsulate the splendor of a sunrise over a mountain peak, the serenity of a secluded woodland path, or the raw power of a waterfall in a single frame. Your photographs become visual stories, telling the tale of your outdoor explorations without uttering a single word.

To embark on these careers, you’ll need a solid foundation in writing or photography, and of course, a passion for travel and hiking. While formal education can be beneficial, it’s also about practice, creativity, and developing your own unique style.

In short, as a travel writer or landscape photographer, you’re not just making a living from hiking, but also creating and sharing your own unique interpretations of the world’s natural wonders. It’s about turning your adventures into art that others can enjoy – and that’s a truly remarkable journey.

Trending Trails: The Rise of Outdoor Influencers and Bloggers

If you’re passionate about hiking and have a flair for social media or blogging, then you might want to consider the burgeoning world of outdoor influencers and bloggers. This digital-age career blends your love for the great outdoors with the power of online storytelling and networking.

Outdoor influencers and bloggers are individuals who use platforms like Instagram, YouTube, or personal blogs to share their hiking and outdoor adventures with an online audience. They post engaging content that often includes stunning visuals, hiking tips, gear reviews, and personal anecdotes about their experiences.

As an outdoor influencer or blogger, your job is not just about hiking but about engaging with your online community. You’re part content creator, part marketer, part entertainer, and part educator. Your audience looks to you for inspiration, practical advice, and often, a vicarious taste of the adventure they crave.

outdoor influencer

Monetizing this career can come in various forms. You might get sponsored by outdoor gear companies, earn revenue through ads on your blog or YouTube channel, or even publish paid e-books or guides based on your hiking experiences.

To start this journey, you need a passion for hiking, a knack for creating engaging content, and an understanding of social media dynamics. It’s not always easy, and building a large enough following to monetize your efforts can take time. But with consistency, creativity, and a genuine love for what you do, it’s certainly possible.

In essence, being an outdoor influencer or blogger allows you to turn your hiking adventures into a digital narrative that inspires and engages others. You get to hit the trails and bring your followers along for the ride – now how cool is that?

Essential Skills and Qualifications for Hiking-Related Careers

So, you’re passionate about hiking and you’re considering a career that incorporates this love for the trails. But what skills and qualifications do you need to make this dream a reality?

First and foremost, you need a solid foundation in outdoor skills, and that goes beyond just being a good hiker. Depending on the exact role, you might need to know about navigation, camping, survival techniques, and possibly even climbing or kayaking. Most hiking-related careers involve dealing with unpredictable outdoor conditions, so you need to be prepared for anything that nature might throw at you.

Physical fitness is another key requirement. After all, hiking jobs are not for the faint-hearted. You’ll be spending long hours on your feet, often carrying heavy equipment, so you need to be in good shape.

woman hiking as a career

Next, there’s the people skills. Whether you’re a trail guide, a park ranger, or an outdoor influencer, you’ll be interacting with people a lot. You need to be a good communicator, have patience, and be capable of leading and inspiring others.

Lastly, there are the specific qualifications that vary depending on the role. For instance, trail guides often require first aid and CPR certifications, park rangers might need a degree in a related field, and outdoor influencers need a solid understanding of social media algorithms.

To sum up, hiking-related careers require a blend of practical outdoor skills, physical fitness, people skills, and certain specific qualifications. But at the heart of it all, what you really need is a deep love for the outdoors and a passion for sharing this with others. With these tools in your backpack, you’re well on your way to a career that gets you out on the trail!

Success Stories of People Who’ve Made Hiking Their Livelihood

Ever wondered if it’s possible to truly make a living out of your love for hiking? Well, it’s not just a far-fetched dream. There are people out there who’ve managed to turn their passion for the trails into a successful career. Here are a few inspiring examples.

Let’s start with Cheryl Strayed. After her solo hike of more than a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, Strayed turned her transformative experience into a memoir called “Wild”. This New York Times bestseller not only brought her fame and financial success, but also inspired countless others to embark on their own hiking adventures.

Then there’s Andrew Skurka, a renowned long-distance hiker who’s traversed thousands of miles on America’s trails. Skurka has managed to turn his passion for epic hikes into a multifaceted career. He’s a sponsored athlete, a speaker, a guide, and an author, proving that there are many ways to monetize a love for hiking.

Finally, there’s Gale Straub, the founder of She Explores – a platform that focuses on women in the outdoors. Straub’s love for hiking and exploration has turned into a successful online community, podcast, and book, with thousands of followers inspired by her adventures and insights.

These stories showcase how a passion for hiking can indeed translate into a rewarding career. It’s not always an easy path to tread, and success doesn’t happen overnight, but with determination, creativity, and a genuine love for the trails, the peak is within reach!

Factors to Consider When Contemplating a Hiking Career

So, you’re smitten with the idea of earning a living while exploring the trails. But before you swap your office chair for a pair of hiking boots, it’s essential to ponder whether a hiking-related career is the right path for you. Here are a few key factors to consider.

Firstly, think about your physical fitness. A career centered around hiking will demand a lot from your body. Long hours on the trail, carrying equipment, and facing the elements are all part of the package. You need to ensure that you’re physically prepared for these challenges and are willing to maintain your fitness level.

Secondly, consider your comfort with unpredictability. The great outdoors doesn’t operate on a 9-to-5 schedule. Weather conditions change, trails close, plans go awry. If you prefer a routine and predictable work environment, a hiking career might test your patience.

unhappy hiker

Next, think about your people skills. Many hiking-related careers involve working with others, whether it’s leading a group of hikers, educating park visitors, or engaging with an online audience. Good communication skills, patience, and a knack for leadership are important traits in this line of work.

Lastly, consider the financial aspect. While it’s certainly possible to make a good living in some hiking-related careers, others may not be as lucrative, especially when you’re starting. It’s important to have realistic expectations and perhaps a financial plan to support you in the early stages.

In conclusion, a hiking-related career can be incredibly rewarding, combining passion with profession. But it’s also a path that comes with its own unique set of challenges. Before you set off, take some time to reflect on these factors and decide if this is the journey you’re ready and excited to embark on. After all, every successful hike starts with careful preparation, right?

Jim Murphy

Jim's love for camping started at an early age. His parents would take him camping every summer, where he'd spend his days getting quality time in with his dad and his nights eating too many smores.

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