Careers related to kayaks and paddling?

I wonder whether anyone has some creative ideas for careers related to kayaks and paddling. Of course there is the guide/instructor/retailer route, but just curious what else is out there.

For reference, my background is in environmental engineering, and I have spent quite a bit of time in the field, around 15 years, including time spent getting advanced degrees, etc. I am surely not the only person dreaming of merging my love for all things related to kayaking with making a living!

Any ideas?


Sort of getting closer to your backgroun
Whitewater-park designer.

Scott Shipley, probably our finest
slalom kayaker, studied hydrodynamics and after his retirement, got at least some business designing ww courses and streamflow modifications.

Dam removal
The catch with anything you’re doing water related

– is the funding from the Federal Government.

The National Inventory of Dams (NID),

maintained by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE),

shows that the number of dams in the U.S.A.

hovers around 85,000.

Clearinghouse for Dam Removal Information (CDRI)

The days of antiquity with lumber/grist mills is gone;

yet the legacy of the crumbling dams remain everywhere.

Surf bum

Great gig if you can get it.

Had the same idea when I retired

– Last Updated: Nov-05-12 3:58 PM EST –

Having an entrepreneurial background, I analyzed retail, manufacturing and services, finding the market size and trending insufficiently favorable. Too much risk, too little reward, and very few of them put you on the water very much. There are viable niches, but it's basically a labor-of-love situation, which wouldn't be all bad.

SUPs are Growing and Growing
While canoes and kayaks have plateaued.

kayak ranger…
Met some lucky sob’s in Alaska who were kayak rangers…

Start a paddling website . . .
. . . that provides message boards, reviews, articles, ads, classifieds, and more.

Oops, I think that one is already spoken for.

Events promoter
Unfortunately, in recent years these events seem to have struggled to cover costs. But they could probably do well if you came up with the right combination of draws, in the right location.

What the difference between a kayak…
instructor and a large pizza?

A large pizza can feed a family of four!

Thanks for all the great ideas!
They are giving me something to chew on for a while or at least fantasize about…especially being a kayak ranger in Alaska. :wink: Though it’s also a good reality check about the difficulties in finding a stable, long-term career in the field.

Another engineering-related idea could be to work on optimizing boat design using computer modeling (computational fluid dynamics). I saw some impressive work done in support of Olympics rowing. You can test various refinements of hull shape, for example, to see the effect on drag or other performance characteristics. However, this would require some costly computing resources. And such modeling requires a lot of assumptions that may or may not translate into an accurate measure of performance for conditions encountered in reality. I’m sure it is also difficult to quantify what makes for a kayak with pleasing performance, as people have different ideas about how a boat should handle (e.g., regarding stability characteristics and maneuverability versus speed), and there are so many variables on top of that (paddler size and weight, etc.).

I’ve also thought it could be interesting to combine kayaking with scientific studies (collecting samples in hard-to-reach coastal areas), surveying geology or wildlife, etc.

Kayak instructor…

paddling career
What about cross country delivery person…

Seems like every canoe I find for sale is half way around the country and I have no way to get it home.

My if I won the lottery job.
would be to form a group of close friends to develop and prototype new kayaking and camping products. We could take an idea brainstorm and prototype it into a workable product. Of course this would mean a lot of time hanging out with my friends talking about boating, then even more time testing in all kinds of exotic locales and conditions. You know if it were fun and easy they wouldn’t call it a job.