how do I get in to guiding

and outfitting professionaly? Kayaking is my number one passion. I would love to get paid to guide and explore other countries but I just don’t know where to start. I am finally getting licensed this summer and I am also planning on taking the wilderness para and first responder classes this fall. Are there any other classes that I should be taking? Oh and also currently I am in school for accounting so I can have a sup. income for my paddling

Thanks for the help

…start with lot’s of money, give up all dreams

of ever paddling again, give up all dreams of

financial security, and don’t ever get lost on

the river!

On the plus side, you’ll keep teams of lawyers

and insurance salesmen quite happy.

I have friends who run a canoe livery in

Mississippi. They get out to paddle every

Valentine’s Day.

Granted, they live in Mississippi, but

Valentine’s Day is still mid-feb.

so how do I get an outfitter to pay me to go paddle in exotic places?

Get a reputation…
and years of experience under your belt. Start locally, build up to the exotic trips.

Get lost.
And then find your way back.

Otherwise, I would recommend talking to some Maine Guides.

rhetorical question?
sounds like you are already there.

hope you love to cook, clean, and carry lots of other peoples food, and gear.

you also need to be happy 24/7, like to solve peoples problems, and know how to play politics and people for your gain. and accept being drastically underpaid for your efforts. remember, very little money in the outdoors as a business unless you occupy the top rung of the ladder.

sarcasm and cynicism aside; you may really like it, many do- for a few years.

meteorology courses, vhf radio
first responders, wilderness first aid, wilderness leadership techniques, kayak courses appropriate to your field (IE, I work as a sea kayak guide),

man o man, I thought i had what i needed, turns out, all I really learned was how much more I wanted.

Maine Guides
As I understand it, and I may be wrong, Maine Guides work for tips. All the people I have known who do guiding sure don’t make much, have a second job to pay the bills and do it cause they like doing that. I know that insurance is a big issue these days for people in this part of the business, keeps going up just like everything else except the paycheck. I wish you luck.


most of the guides
that I have met and know, are full time kayaking bums. they spend their whole lives dedicated to paddling. second jobs are for suckers, (according to them).

How much do you really know about paddling?

Also (here comes the bum rush) what certifications do you hold, which one’s are you working on? And how good are you? I think of myself as a fairly accomplished paddler, but I wouldn’t want to be a guide. Being responsible for other people is pretty serious business.

Apply for a job
Why don’t you just look at websites of several outfitters/guide services that you think would be good to work for, and ask them? Send them an e-mail or cover letter with your kayaking resume, and see what they think. If you need more of something, they will probably point that out to you. In your letter, ask if there are any opportunities to go an a trip as an intern/unpaid helper. I occasionaly work for a canoe outfitter, and that is how I started. Just worked for free for several trips, then started getting paid. I’ve washed about ten thousand dishes, pumped out the crappers, yelled myself hoarse trying to give instruction, helped cook for 50+, and work 14 hour days for 8 hours pay. Lots of fun!

Why not be a tax accountant?
You’re already going to school for it! Work the tax season rush from October 1st through Arpil 30th and take the rest of the year off. You’ll make more than most Guides do in a year! AND you’ll have more free time for paddling and going on fun trips. As you gain experience some outfitters might offer you work like a dog jobs for next to nothing pay for your help with some trips.

Do what you love…
…and you will never do a day of work in your life. I went to school and got a degree in outdoor and environmental recreation and education and have found that with a degree like that and WFR training (among other certs) people are more apt to hire me than someone who simply has a passion for what they do. I’ve never had an office job and never plan to. I want to work in the field regardless of that fact that I have to cook and clean for others and solve their problems. I love doing EVERYTHING in the outdoors and love sharing it with people who want to learn.

Barracuda and I have an offer for you!
We have decided to run river trips on the Truckee and Carson Rivers in Northern Nevada. We will use inflatable kayaks. The take out for all of our trips will be at a famous Nevada Ranch (aka brothel). The business will be Nevada Paddln’Whore. Our motto will be “The kayaks are inflatable, but the women are not!”

Isn’t this a bit like asking . .
. . how to become a staving artist?

All you have to do is walk away from society with all of it’s trappings and do what you love, with passion and complete commitment and to the complete detriment of the rest of your life.

Bon chance!


Wanna buy my sign-in name?
Might be a good addition to your business. :slight_smile:

Paddle Ho.

that’s the plan stan
The original plan was to do tax accounting for part of the year and travel/bum around for the other months. I have no children, pets, house or pretty much anything tying me down so I figure I can do that for a while, or untill I get bored of doing it

Found this
Thread while looking for something else. MOMO was the only one who gave you good advice. Guys like me(outfitters) hire skilled outdoorsmen and women (which I personaly prefer)based more on drive and critical thinking skills. Be a good cook, no be a really good cook. Lead guides on the river I work get $125 per day plus tips which often exceed total pay for the trip. Be able to hold up your end of the conversation with people from all walks of life but mostly wealthy. It makes a great seasonal job

BCU, ACA, etc…
Both the British Canoe Union and the American Canoe Association have training programs for guides. Embarking on getting training and certification by one or both of these organizations will provide you with skills and contacts.

Many of the guides I’ve met have other jobs – school or college teaching is common. This provides them with reliable income, health insurance and affords much paddling time in warmer months.

Positive side…
As I read over everyone’s suggestions for you, it seems like not many “guides” or outfitters chimmed in.

I thought more people ought too. Yes, many of the people are correct in long hours, little pay…those are the negatives. But I own/operate a sea kayaking base and it is my passion! I where sandles to work, I swim when it’s hot, I wear comfortable clothes, every single day I’m outdoors in the wilderness, and the people you meet are happy to be here there excited to learn to kayak or learn about the area…that’s increadible. I do have a “winter” job & a 4-yr degree in Biology. I found that teaching/education or medicine (I work as an EMT) is often the easiest transitions for me, although business training/accounting would also work well.

What I look for: like someone else said, passion is great, but show me your dedication…get certified thru the BCU british canoe union (if you want to go outside the US this is better), or the ACA as a whitewater, or sea kayak guide. Definitely WFR cert. or EMT (which is better for other jobs) anything like swiftwater rescue training, orientering courses, and teaching experiences are a huge help.

I try to look for paddlers who are Excellent with people, cooking is definitely a plus, and simply trusting employees. I often leave our operation in the hands of employees, and working with an outfitter to gain that trust is crucial in this industry. It is wonderful, look into working for someone for the experience, look into starting your own operation to make a career out of this industry…

Hope that helps!

Voyageurs Adventures


Been there, Done that, and
I would not do it today. At 19 was a junior climbing guide in Colorado, then on to the Alaska Range / Denali. Ran two major outdoor programs that did year round travel in the mountains and water. While I had many a great time, met some terrific people, and became skilled in many endeavors, I got totally burned out on all of it. A lot of my pals did as well. The fantasy is great, but the reality is that you are a baby sitter. To be good, you have to already be where you need to be in terms of skills, as your focus is on introducing your people to the greatest teacher of all…Nature. The best guides don’t compete with Nature, rather they help people build the necessary skills to “go to school” if you will. After several thousand nautical miles in a sea kayak, I’ve lost a lot of the passion for groups and instructing. I much prefer really cool trips alone or with pals. I did my share, now it’s my turn. You are wise to have other employment, and I think perhaps a more healthy approach would be to guide part time on your terms. In some ways I began to think of myself as someone who was pimping the wilderness, and I questioned the big picture rationale for doing such. Commercial outfitters are having a big impact where I live, and absolutely dominate camp areas etc. The weekend warrior is at a disadvantage. I also see a saturated market. Certification is fine if viewed appropriately as a baseline of standard skills. I will tell you that I ran through a few guides who had the papers, but poor skill, endurance, and judgement. Not all, but some. By all means blast through that stuff, but it’s the boaters who are always out in the surf, doing long trips etc., that impressed me. It’s not hard to assertain a guides skill on a long trip in the Charlottes etc. Get your EMT, or WFR. Also, don’t be absolutist about things such as which roll etc. It’s a sign of a new teacher. Rather pay attention to the students body movements, fears, natural skills / limitations etc., and help them to be successful with the tools they have. You’ll be way ahead if they see success. Obviously coach for good safe technique, but don’t be a technique Nazi. Paddle with world class boaters and you’ll see a different style with each. Subtle, but unique. Lastly, don’t fill their entire days with your agenda. At camp etc., allow for quiet time, or non-structured time. People hate being facilitated and guides that are too self important don’t know when to shut up. Don’t compete with Nature!

Some shrink may read a lot into this…it’s just my two cents…I go to bed happy at night knowing that no-one got hurt or killed on my watch… Happy paddling