If you have lots of energy, are passionate about the great outdoors, sports or wellbeing; you’re a people person and don’t mind being outside whatever the weather, a career in this industry could be perfect for you.
Industry overview from the Sport and Recreation IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast Report
Employment in the Outdoors, Sport and Physical Recreation industry has been on the rise since 2000 and is projected to remain growing strongly up until 2024. Employment for Fitness Instructors, Sports Coaches, Instructors and Officials is projected to rise by around 16% by 2024.
An alternative if you’re looking for a job in the outdoors with really strong job prospects, you could consider working as an Outdoor Adventure Guide. This role currently accounts for less than 1% of the industry workforce but is projected to grow by 19% by 2024.
Your questions answered
Lori Modde, CEO of Outdoors NSW & ACT took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some of our questions about careers in the sports and outdoors industry.
SWG: Lori thanks so much for your time, could you give us an idea about some of the roles available within the Outdoor Sector?
Lori: The Outdoor sector involves Adventure Tourism operators, Outdoor Recreation activities, Outdoor Education, Outdoor adventure events and Outdoor therapy, worth $7.6B in NSW & the ACT alone. There are varied roles available working with people of all ages and abilities.
If you’d prefer to work with pre-schoolers there are roles in Nature-Play activities and educators. For school age children (primary & high school) the sector offers the opportunity to connect through sport curriculums, or resilience, teambuilding and other skills development – a great example is the growing interest in the Duke of Edinburgh program.
In tertiary education, you could work as an academic, researching the needs and development opportunities of the sector, or lecturing in courses such as Outdoor Leadership.
If you’d rather not work in education you could work with adults promoting healthy lifestyles, providing opportunities for adventure bucket lists to get ticked, or leading outdoor activities as a guide or facilitator increasing social connectivity.
Careers in this sector provide a great foundation and experience that could also benefit you in many other industries, such as roles within the emergency services.
SWG: What kind of activities could you be expected to perform in these jobs?
Lori: You could turn your passion into a paid job. If you like rock-climbing, then become a leader helping others discover the activity, or canoeing, hiking, caving…. And lots more. Expect to work directly with customers, learning how to manage groups, mitigate risk and get the best from people, it’s a truly rewarding industry.
A career path could lead to management opportunities within larger outdoor industry players, allow you to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities e.g. establishing your own business, or move in to teaching, research or pivot into other areas such as the emergency services.
SWG: Can you give an example of what a ‘day in the life’ of someone working in the Outdoor Sector could look like?
Lori: To answer this question, I will use the example of camp based outdoor education providers, which is one of the largest segments of the industry.
As a camp outdoor leader, you’ll be connecting with groups of students from schools across your state helping them to achieve curriculum outcomes, as well as challenging them in team building activities and exercises designed to help them discover their abilities. You could be walking on high ropes, trekking through forests, or facilitating games and exercises.
SWG: Are formal qualifications required to work in the industry?
Lori: Yes, due to the nature of the work, we are very keen on qualifications in first aid and outdoor leader certificates. Diplomas are required for the higher manager levels. You could complete these qualifications full-time or as part of a traineeship.
TAFE NSW and private registered training organisations as well as universities offer these qualifications regularly.
Because the locations used for work are often not close to public transport, personal transport and a licence are also highly recommended.
SWG: What kinds of skills and attributes are useful for someone working in the industry?
Lori: You must love the outdoors, be energetic and fit. You’ll need excellent communication skills to be able to engage groups and articulate risk management procedures, and as teamwork is what you teach this is also an essential ingredient as an outdoor leader.
SWG: What makes working in the Outdoors Sector so rewarding?
Lori: Being in the outdoors first and foremost. We get to work in the most amazing landscapes and places, meeting lots of people from varied backgrounds and of all ages. We are leaders of fun and adventure and get paid for it! A career in this industry is a continuous journey of personal growth and discovery too.
SWG: Is it necessary to work nights, weekends or in shifts?
Lori: Yes, depending on the role and organisation. The Outdoors don’t have office shifts and conduct overnight treks, weekend adventures and week-day camps. One of the beauties of this industry is the flexibility it offers regarding work schedules. Bear in mind that most adventure tourism activities occur on weekends.
SWG: Are there opportunities to work from home and/or for yourself?
Lori: At home…. No, not unless you have your own cliff or cave in your backyard. But yes, this sector attracts entrepreneurial people and setting up your own business after a few years of leading experience is definitely possible.
SWG: What kind of things could high school students be doing right now to improve their prospects of getting a job in the Outdoor Sector?
Lori: You could join the Scouts or Guides, start a Certificate II or III in Outdoor Recreation or Leadership. Join an adventure activity club and start engaging in the activity of your choice on a regular basis. Volunteer in areas where you’ll get the chance to manage groups of school kids, like Sunday school or community groups.
SWG: Are there career opportunities for people with disabilities?
Lori: Yes, if you have a disability there are options to consider both as a career and for outdoor and sporting experiences. Bush therapy in particular is a growing area in our sector, it’s designed to encourage the balance between capability and nature for improved mental health.
SWG: What are some of the highlights of working in the Outdoor Sector?
- You get paid to indulge your passion or hobby
- You continually grow as an individual
- After gaining some initial training and experience in the sector, there are so many ways you can specialise or move to different niches
- The skills you build in this industry are life-long skills and transferable within many other roles.
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